NGOs—including the fundamental rights platform epicenter.works, Amnesty International, and System Change, Not Climate Change—view the plans critically. In an open letter, they addressed their objections to Vienna Transport Council member Ole Sima (SPÖ) and Transport Minister Leonor Gosler (the Greens). They have spoken out against video surveillance to calm the traffic the city wants — which must be made possible by the federal legislature.
“We doubt that this will be an appropriate tool to limit vehicular movement and warn of the negative consequences for our basic and human rights,” she said in Thursday’s broadcast.
Almost as many holes as Swiss cheese.
“According to our information, the City of Vienna plans to install video cameras in approximately all 38 access roads from the Ring Road to District One, thereby automatically registering the license plates of all cars entering and exiting.” Does not live in District One, taxi or truck should not be penalized, does not operate a business in the area or is not approved by a company such as a supplier or hotel guest, does not park in a multi-storey car park or does not leave the area within 30 minutes.
It states that “the model has holes almost like Swiss cheese”. In terms of traffic policy, it would be “much more convenient and cheaper” to reallocate part of the city’s parking spaces than to monitor the majority of streets with network cameras, the initiators believe. He added, “We also doubt that the technical and administrative implementation of this project can be designed so that only license plates and not photos of the vehicle or driver are registered.”
Passers-by are also affected
It is said that pedestrians crossing the street or cyclists may also be affected by video surveillance. In addition, such a system must be centrally connected to the network, since cars belonging to unauthorized persons who leave the area within 30 minutes or drive into a multi-storey car park should not be penalized.
“The city of Vienna is thus creating a mountain of data that we fear will arouse desire and that the data will also be used for other purposes in the future.” In addition, NGOs assert that a large part of meetings in Vienna take place in the city center.
“Video surveillance of this scale makes us fear that it will have a deterrent effect on the population by not participating in meetings in central Vienna in the future.” Now advocate the use of “more lenient means”. It was emphasized that the goal of calming traffic was “essentially worthy of support”.
Assignment of a feasibility study
The City of Vienna and the 1st Municipal District commissioned a feasibility and implementation study to calm traffic within the city, and this was announced at the beginning of the year. The focus is on the plan to monitor the city limits through the cameras. The Car Free City project has been around for a long time. In 2020, the first concept – which was ultimately not realized – caused discussions.
In the study, among other things, technical requirements and a possible schedule will be discussed, according to the SPÖ club. Access to area residents and users of public garages, delivery traffic, emergency vehicles and municipal services such as garbage disposal will continue to be guaranteed.
The city refers to other European cities
To defend the concept, Eric Valentine, representative of the SPÖ municipal council and head of the transport committee, came out on Thursday. In a broadcast, he confirmed that the camera-based access control complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Such a procedure is already successfully used in many other cities of Europe – for example, Bologna, Turin and Dubrovnik. He emphasized that “the protection of personal data is a valuable asset, and it is of great concern to the City of Vienna that this protection is strictly adhered to.”
Camera-based access is only related to license plate recognition to classify access as permitted or disallowed. Photos will only be taken when vehicles enter and leave the vehicle. In the case of legal entry – for example, if the license plate number is known to be exempt from the driving ban or if you subsequently enter a garage – the registration will be deleted immediately after the comparison is made.
Compared with the control section
“This procedure is consistent with that of department monitoring. The legal interest in automated surveillance and criminal prosecution is the same in both cases and serves road safety in both cases. “Only vehicles are photographed, no pedestrians or protesters are registered,” Valentin explained.
At the same time, the Commissioner of SPÖ also emphasized that a city center with less traffic would effectively contribute to protecting the climate and increasing the quality of life. “We want to reduce individual motorized traffic in the city. Traffic calming city center is an important measure to reduce traffic emissions, and District One has excellent public access.” District and city are working very closely together on this and a feasibility study is currently being carried out And technical implementation, which should be available in the summer depending on the city of Vienna.
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