'This decision is proactive in nature': AMS to record videos inside Safewalk vehicles for security, safety

The AMS will start recording video inside Safewalk vehicles after AMS Council approved changes to the society’s existing surveillance policy.

Two weeks ago, councillors voted to amend the AMS’s Video Surveillance Policy (SR-14) to allow cameras inside AMS-operated vehicles. VP Admin Ben Du — who brought the policy change to Council — said the amendments were intended to improve the safety of staff and students inside these vehicles.

The updated policy specifically lists authorized personnel who will have access to the recordings, including the Managing Director, the Building Operations Manager, the IT Manager, the Chief Technology Officer, and for Safewalk, the Senior Manager of Student Services.

If others want access to the footage, they will need ask the Building Operations Manager or the Senior Manager of Student Services and view the footage in their presence.

On how these cameras will be implemented, Du said only activity inside the vehicle would be recorded, videos would not include sound and footage would be deleted 15 days after recording unless an investigation was prompted.

There are some concerns around privacy with this new policy, however. During Council, Arts Councillor and Board of Governors representative Max Holmes said that he was worried the cameras could lead students to lose trust in services like Safewalk due to privacy concerns.

At Council, Du emphasized that there would be restricted access to the footage.

“I think the responsibility and the due diligence does lie in the responsible personnel who are accessing the footage,” he said.

Student Services Manager Mitchell Prost added that students can instead use the walking services with Safewalk, and that there will be signs posted on vehicles to ensure passengers can provide their consent before entering.

In a statement sent to The Ubyssey, Prost did not speak to Holmes’s concerns but said AMS executives, Council and the Operations Committee were consulted on this policy change.

“This decision is proactive in nature to increase safety of our student drivers and passengers, a practice that is common in other passenger transportation operations,” he added.