Public Comment Period Opening for Technologies Subject to the City’s Surveillance Ordinance

The City of Seattle has published the fifth set of draft Surveillance Impact Reports (SIRs) for six of the 26 currently existing surveillance technologies, per the Surveillance Ordinance.

The City of Seattle is looking for the public’s input on the SIRs to provide the City Council with community perspective and ensure the City’s policies responsibly govern the use of these technologies.

The public comment period is currently open and runs through May 20, 2022. There are three ways for residents to provide input and share their concerns:


1. Residents can submit their surveillance comments on each technology online at: City of Seattle Privacy website.

2. Seattle residents can also mail comments to Attn: Surveillance & Privacy Program, Seattle IT, PO Box 94709, Seattle, WA 98124

3. City Surveillance Technology Events: The City will hold virtual events to allow attendees to engage with the technology experts and hear from City leadership. These virtual events will take place using Webex and participants can join via online or by phone. Links and times for the event dates below can be found on the events calendar on the City’s Surveillance Technologies website. Scheduled event dates are:
Date and time:
Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 3:00 pm
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 3:00 pm

Webinar topic:
Group 4b Surveillance Public Meeting

Next Date and time: Wednesday, May 18, 2022 3:00 pm

Join link: https://seattle.webex.com/seattle/j.php?MTID=m549182a7ee153d68cc332b28fe94e311

Webinar number:
2497 635 9688

Webinar password:
D6JhTcf5KU7 (36548235 from phones)

Join by phone
+1-206-207-1700 United States Toll (Seattle)
+1-408-418-9388 United States Toll
Access code: 248 062 39194


More information on these technologies, as well as the City of Seattle’s Privacy program, can be found online at the City of Seattle’s Privacy website.

This public input period is a valuable part of our process. The City of Seattle is committed to being transparent and accountable. Hearing from residents is part of the process. We welcome your thoughts and comments and look forward to hearing them. The complete list of technologies in this group for review, can be found below.

Seattle Police Department’s Tracking Devices 

Seattle Police Department’s Tracking Devices technology is under review for public comment as a retroactive surveillance technology. This technology is a hidden tracking device carried by a moving vehicle or person that uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine and track its precise location. United States v. Jones mandated that these must have consent or a search warrant to be used. 

Seattle Police Department’s Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) 

Seattle Police Department’s Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) technology is under review for public comment as a retroactive surveillance technology. These are SPD non-recording ROVs/robots used by the Arson/Bomb Unit to safely approach suspected explosives, by the Harbor Unit to detect drowning victims, vehicles, or other submerged items, and by SWAT in tactical situations to assess dangerous situations from a safe, remote location. 

Seattle Police Department’s Extraction Tools 

Seattle Police Department’s computer, cellphone and mobile device extraction tools (extraction tools) technology is under review for public comment as a retroactive surveillance technology. These are forensic tools used with the consent of a phone/device owner or pursuant to a warrant to acquire, decode, and analyze data from smartphones, tablets, portable GPS device, desktop and laptop computers. 

Seattle Police Department’s Crash Data Retrieval 

Seattle Police Department’s Crash Data Retrieval technology is under review for public comment as a retroactive surveillance technology. This technology is a tool that allows a Collision Reconstructionist investigating vehicle crashes the opportunity to image data stored in the vehicle’s airbag control module. This is done for a vehicle that has been in a crash and is used with consent or a search warrant. 

Seattle Police Department’s Camera Systems 

Seattle Policy Department’s covert camera systems capture images and video of identifiable individuals, some of whom are unaware of the recording. Covert cameras can be concealed on a person or hidden in or on objects within a particular environment.  These cameras capture images only; they do not record sound.   

Seattle Police Department’s GeoTime 

GeoTime is geospatial analysis software that allows the visual analysis of events over time.  Utilizing geodata, such as latitude and longitude, procured during criminal investigations, investigators use GeoTime to create specialized 2 and 3 dimensional maps of call records and cell site locations. These maps allow investigators to see patterns in the existing data that might not be interpreted through other methods.