Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Muni's Super Bowl Non-Surveillance Cameras 

Wednesday, Jan 13 2016
Comments (1)

Soon, more than 110 million pairs of eyes will be on San Francisco for the Super Bowl — and for attendees at Super Bowl City, the "fan village" taking over the foot of Market Street at the Embarcadero, extra eyes will be on them.

Over the past few weeks, Muni has quietly installed 25 cameras on the stretch of Market Street from First Street to the Ferry Building that will be shut to traffic from Jan. 23 to Feb. 12. (The fan village will host events, like an Alicia Keys concert, from Jan. 30 up until game day on Feb. 7).

The cameras, affixed to city-owned streetlight poles, were first noticed by leery, privacy-minded Twitter users who spread word of a creeping super surveillance state via the hashtag #SuperBowlSurveillance.

But these aren't security cameras — really. Rather, according to Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose, these are "traffic cameras," installed as part of a nearly decade-long "intelligent" traffic improvement effort called "SF Go" that's seen more than 70 traffic monitoring cameras installed in other parts of the city since 2007, including on Mission Street and rush-hour hospots like Franklin and Gough streets.

These cameras don't record, Rose says — as per a city law that forbids recorded surveillance — and are meant to monitor traffic, not people. Further, they're linked to a control room at Muni headquarters at 1 South Van Ness Ave., not police headquarters.

However, they could still be used to keep an eye on things. They pan, tilt, and zoom, like a security camera (and their installation did not require public notice or Board of Supervisors approval).

They won't be the only cameras on hand for the Super Bowl, either: PG&E may also deploy "mobile cameras," possibly to keep an eye on the power grid, according to the Department of Emergency Management (which says it has no access to Muni's cameras).

As for why Muni chose the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl to install traffic cameras that just happen to monitor areas closed to traffic? A coincidence. Either way, the world — and Muni — will be watching us.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


Showing 1-1 of 1


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"