Town Business: Uber for Parking; Police Sex Crime Scandal Undermined Trust in OPD


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Uber for Parking: Oakland is poised to grant a franchise to a private company that uses a web of surveillance to develop apps for parking. The company is called Streetline.

Streetline's proposal is as follows: the company will blanket 750 city blocks with sensors and cameras to record the comings and goings of cars. Oakland will also turn over license plate recognition data, traffic camera feeds, gate and meter payment information, and other surveillance inputs to Streetline. The company will use this information to build a free "parking assistant" app that Oakland residents and visitors can download. The app literally guides drivers to open parking spaces.

The whole thing is free for Oakland. But of course nothing is ever free. Streetline will own all the data, and Streetline makes its money by selling this data to third parties. One money-maker is selling a "guided enforcement" app to cities that want a better way to spot illegally parked cars.

The deal with Oakland would last three years. Oakland will also have to participate in a marketing push to get at least 10,000 people to download and use the app.

Oakland's privacy commission will be examining the underlying technology and potential civil liberties issues regarding the Streetline app. But this week the proposal is coming before the Public Works Committee as part of a larger package of parking initiatives.

Police Sex Crime Scandal Undermined Trust in OPD: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Task Force, a multi-agency group that includes the Alameda County District Attorney, Oakland Police Department, and numerous nonprofits, just issued its annual report. According to the task force, efforts to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children were undermined by dozens of cops from Oakland, Richmond, the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, Contra Costa Sheriff's Office, and other police agencies who sexually exploited a teenager. The case has damaged what trust there was in law enforcement, and will make it more difficult for the authorities to find and protect trafficked and exploited kids.

The task force wrote:

"The recent law enforcement sexual misconduct accusations led to heightened mistrust in law enforcement agencies and shone a spotlight on the issue of CSEC. Many service providers reported that the allegations further exacerbated their clients' mistrust in law enforcement. Others noted that this was one of the reasons why their clients felt isolated from safety measures in the city. The most significant impact is the damage the accusations had on OPD's credibility in the fight against sexual exploitation, damaging years of hard work and dedicated attention to handling CSEC in a comprehensive way."

In response, the task force is recommending that all City of Oakland employees undergo training to identify children who may be commercially sexually exploited.

The CSEC task force's annual report is scheduled to be heard at the Life Enrichment Committee on Tuesday.