Local councils play big brother

Sydney’s local councils have taken a big brother approach to their council duties, monitoring citizens applications by the use of satellite technology.

Sydney’s local councils have taken a big brother approach to their council duties, monitoring citizens applications by the use of satellite technology.

According to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, Tim Rahr, a Paddington resident, was contacted by a council officer querying his application for a parking permit when apparently she could see clearly on her computer’s satellite imagery that Mr Rahr’s house had off street parking.

The council worker was incorrect and had been looking at the wrong house, however the entire incident angered Rahr who resented the notion that the council could monitor anyone’s home.

The council does not use Google Street View or Google Maps, but rather its own in-house aerial mapping program, E-view.

Mr Rahr said “that makes me feel even more creepy. It’s a bit weird they have their own program just to look at us.”

Sydney Council however said it is common practice for councils to use aerial mapping programs to keep track of information they gather; from dog attacks to noise complaints to development applications.

“If councils didn’t have this kind of information, it would be a concern. We wouldn’t be able to do our job,” said a City of Sydney spokesman, Josh Mackenzie.

More than half the council’s staff can log into E-View, which allows them to search on a person’s name or address or zoom in on the detailed aerial photos.

“We can see anything bigger than 10 centimetres by 10 centimetres,” said the City of Sydney’s spatial information co-ordinator, Matthew Dobson, adding that the aerial shots are soon to be updated. “A number of councils have E-View or similar programs. You just couldn’t get by without them.”

Source: SMH



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