Data collection or Protection

While I was going around recording audio and taking pictures in areas that are in my ecology site, I noticed that there are police cameras posted outside each and every building from Tremont to Kingsbridge, with a sign that reads “NYPD Operation Clean Halls”, which means that the area is essentially always being watched and police officers have the authority to come in the buildings and make sure there aren’t people selling drugs or non-residents loitering. When I was getting closer to Riverdale, I realized that there were little to no cameras in the vicinity, especially when I visited Fieldston, which is a predominantly wealthy white community in Riverdale.




When I asked Jessica, a detective who works at One Police Plaza, why is it that there are so many cameras in Tremont as opposed to Riverdale, she answered, “because there are more crimes in Tremont and the businesses, houses, and private owned buildings in Riverdale can afford their own cameras, so there’s no need to waste city money on putting cameras there”. Who’s to say that there isn’t criminal activity going on in Riverdale and high income communities alike? But since the people in Riverdale have the agency to own property and live in an area low key segregated from the rest of the borough such as Fieldston, they get a pass in not being surveyed and becoming data for the criminal identity. This assertion just heightens the point that my army friend Maverick brought up, which is, minorities continue to be under a control. Its clear that the crimes that are committed in minority communities are being committed by people of color and it is due to circumstances such as lack resources and education; so to have law and order, people within these communities are subjugated and have to consent to being surveyed and recorded at all times for their “protection”. Some people would consider this safe, but the bigger picture is that there’s no privacy and they don’t own or have any permission to acquire the data that is being collected, hence why Maverick says, minorities will always be under a control. The causality of not having money to own property and put cameras up, leads to them being recorded and dependent on the cameras that are put up by the city.

If low income minority communities in the Bronx are always being surveyed, police officers inherently associate criminal activity with people of color. Algorithmic Studies, by David Theo Goldberg & Jenna Ng, is about algorithms and how it structures almost everything in life even society and the social. Goldberg & Ng both write, “Algorithmic studies rest on the epistemological assertion that digital technologies remodel the conditions of possibility for a number of crucial discursive and material practices. These practices and their modes of production, representation, distribution and circulation include the definition of Being, the structuring of the Social, the instrumentalization of the Political and the animation of the Cultural.”, and I compare this with what is happening right now with low income minorities, police surveillance cameras in their community, and the media coverage they receive when caught doing illegal activity. The police have the agency to not only know who they are and their physical traits, they also have the power to amplify and/or alter (if they wanted to) the crime by zooming in and mass sharing their wanted poster all over the city. The media plays a big role on how these people and their crimes are represented, and the social affect of all this leads people to adopt the ideology. There’s an algorithm when the cycle continues to be repeated, so much that it structures the public in which these low income minorities live in.


The cycle of control is algorithmic and the camera is a piece of technology that has granted police an affordance to continue the cycle. In Afrofuturism, by Ramon Amaro, he writes “today in terms of the tip of a police bullet, the subject of the body cam or racial profiling, the efficiency of redlined pricing and other technologies that disproportionately reduce the maneuverability of black people.” Amaro would agree with both Goldberg & Ng because he believes that as technology innovates, new forms of subjugating Blacks and Latinos increase at the same pace to continue to maintain that control; so are all these surveillance cameras in the hood for our protection only, or are low income minorities are being watched closely, collecting data on their activities and physical traits in order keep track of them and solidify control?

Works Cited:

Algorithmic Studies, By David Theo Goldberg and Jenna Ng

Afrofuturism, By Ramon Amaro


~ RocketG






~ by rocketg6 on October 14, 2018.

4 Responses to “Data collection or Protection”

  1. Best All Around
    I like the comparisons you made between Tremont and Feldstein, and how Tremont has more cameras and is patrol by cops more often compared to Feldstein. I also love the fact how you are challenging the status quo of criminal activity in Feldstein. I agree with your statement, “which is to say there isn’t criminal activity being produced in these areas.” Most people have a strong and positive association with predominantly white communities as if there isn’t any drug activity being conducted in these spaces. However, researchers have proven time and time again the Blacks and Whites consume drugs at equal levels. Therefore, maybe Maverick is right, the power to be want to have minorities under control.

  2. The information you provided through research and personal anecdotes was really useful. However, I feel like you didn’t utilize enough aspects of the neighborhood that you could bring the reader into the environment. For example, in your intro, you talked about what you saw and you used nice images to substantiate those, however, you could have included some of the sounds that you heard, or some of the interactions between people to create a more vivid scene.

  3. Understyled: I think you did a good job in providing the factual and conceptual research of the criminal activity taking place in this area. However, I think it would have been better if you developed more on creating affect. You started off rather strong with your initial observations when you got to the area, but maybe you could expand on your interaction with the area more before going into the factual elements.

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