Blog Post 5: Approaches to design for change, design-led ethnography

“Surveillance Mapping” – The Data Trail


“We can’t see how the street is immersed in a twitching, pulsing cloud of data. This is over and above the well-established electromagnetic radiation, crackles of static… This is a new kind of data, collective and individual, aggregated and discrete, open and closed, constantly logging impossibly detailed patterns of behaviour. The behaviour of the street.” – Dan Hill

The quote above was very inspirational towards the approach I wanted to take. I wanted to understand the intricate networks of society and the Interactions between users and technologies. In the blog post – ‘The street as platform’ by Dan Hill, He noticeably speculated about the street as something that can not be seen by the naked eye. Conveying the complexities beyond the physical and social space. That is, ‘Data’.   

In this exercise, I’ve proposed an activity for participants to undertake during the week. The aim was to map the locations (GPS) and take photos of all (or some) of the security cameras that they’ve encountered to create a visual journey. Essentially, this activity shows where the users have travelled to and from to establish a complex network of data trails. This activity also outlines the constant interactivities with technologies/ interfaces and creates a social awareness of tracking and monitoring in a real life environment.

Alternatively, participants could map out their journey by ‘connecting the dots’ where they’ve encountered surveillance cameras in the city. The following map shows the journey of the individual and shows the location en route to the destination. Peter started his journey from N2 Extreme Gelato and made his was from Liverpool street where he encountered the first camera, following by George Street, Albion Place and few more cameras where he noted down while he was travelling to Town Hall Station.




This exercise was to enhance users perceptions of their surrounding environment in particular surveillance cameras and Sydney’s CBD networks. It creates visual awareness of the ongoing tracking and monitoring of individual’s rights and responsibilities in a public setting. Everything we do and say may be tracked or listened to. This very aspect can be re-evaluated and brought to attention. How much do people actually value their privacy and safety? Without this exercise, surveillance cameras would still remain incognito or in the subconscious minds of individuals. Looked past, forgotten and ignored.  


Creating a Data Set

There were other approaches I would like to implement with this exercise and that will bring out different results and findings. Such alternatives were mapping (location coordinates & surveillance), List (Name of the place & description), Illustration & collage (quick sketches of all the cameras and buildings of the locations), Questionnaire (Questions for participants in relations to their daily routines and encounters with surveillance/ CCTV cameras.


Point summary:

  • Surveillance cameras are a ubiquitous technology often noticed subconsciously. This exercise creates social awareness of constant tracking and monitoring in public places and in surrounding communities.
  • Understanding the complexities of a data/ security network.  
  • Provides Insights of Dan Hill’s ‘The Street as Platform’. Speculating the street as a catalyst of information and data that isn’t noticeable to people. The digital that co-exists within the physical space and is evidently portrayed within the designed activity proposed.
  • Advocates the interactions between individuals and technology in surrounding environments
(quote reference)
Hill, D. 2008, ‘Essay: The street as platform,’ City of Sound, Blog, viewed 22 August 2016,


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