Quo Vadis Smart Surveillance? How Smart Technologies Combine and Challenge Democratic Oversight

  • Marc LangheinrichEmail author
  • Rachel Finn
  • Vlad Coroama
  • David Wright


“Smart” seems to have become the new standard for surveillance technology. Smart surveillance promises fewer human resources, larger coverage, and higher detection rates. This article examines the roots of this development through the lens of current and emerging technologies. Based on the review and analysis of academic articles, policy documents and reports, press stories and research projects, we identify the different kinds of surveillance technologies prevalent in our society today and those that are emerging in the near future. Our analysis highlights the ways in which both current and emerging technologies are increasingly being organized into assemblages—“smart surveillance” systems where individual surveillance technologies and local systems are becoming integrated, multi-modal, automated, ubiquitous and increasingly accepted by the public. In the process, they challenge notions of consent and democratic oversight.


Activity Recognition Voice Over Internet Protocol Defense Advance Research Project Agency Gait Recognition Defense Advance Research Project Agency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper has been prepared based in part on research undertaken in the context of the SAPIENT project (Project number: 261698), funded by the European Commission’s Directorate General Enterprise. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone and are in no way intended to reflect those of the European Commission.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Langheinrich
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rachel Finn
    • 2
  • Vlad Coroama
    • 3
  • David Wright
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of InformaticsUniversità della Svizzera italiana (USI)LuganoSwitzerland
  2. 2.Trilateral Research & ConsultingCrown HouseLondonUK
  3. 3.Center for Industrial EcologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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