Community Surveillance Working Group

Are you interested in serving on the City of Seattle’s Community Surveillance Working Group?

The new seven-member Surveillance Working Group will advise the Council and Executive on matters of surveillance technology from a community perspective. Please see the complete details for the Community Surveillance Working Group below.

Please email describing your interest to serve on the Surveillance Working Group. Please also include a copy of your latest resume and submit by Wednesday, November 21, 2018.


Council Bill 119218 amended the Surveillance Ordinance to add a Community Surveillance Working Group. The Surveillance Working Group would provide a privacy and civil liberties Impact Assessment for each Surveillance Impact Report (SIR), which is a report that documents and identifies how surveillance technologies will be used and how data will be securely stored, retained, accessed and audited by departments.

The 2017 Surveillance Ordinance outlined requirements that included: 1) surveillance technology review and approval by City Council before acquisition, 2) Council review and approval via ordinance for retroactive technologies, and 3) reporting about surveillance technology use and community impact. The Chief Technology Officer was required to compile a Master List of surveillance technologies in use by City departments. 28 technologies were identified in four departments: City Light, Dept. of Transportation, Seattle Fire Department, and Seattle Police Department.

The City has demonstrated a commitment to the privacy and security of the public’s personal information. We have worked to strike the right balance between protecting your personal information, providing services and being transparent with the public. Technology changes rapidly and Council has been responsive in updating our policies.

14.18.080 Community Surveillance Working Group


  1. There is established the Community Surveillance Working Group (“Working Group”) to advise the Council and Executive on matters of surveillance technology from a community perspective.
    1. The Working Group shall consist of seven members appointed by the Mayor and Council, including four members by the Mayor and three members by the Council, and shall be finalized by December 1, 2018. This group shall be reevaluated 18 months after its first meeting to review its effectiveness in composition and process.
    2. The Working Group shall elect co-chairs at its initial meeting. The Working Group shall meet at least once per quarter. All meetings of the Working Group shall be open to the public and all final documents and reports to the Council shall be posted by the CTO to the City’s website.
    3. At least five members of the Working Group shall represent equity-focused organizations serving or protecting the rights of communities and groups historically subject to disproportionate surveillance, including Seattle’s diverse communities of color, immigrant communities, religious minorities, and groups concerned with privacy and protest.
    4. The seven positions on the Working Group shall be numbered one through seven. The initial terms of odd-numbered positions shall be two years and the initial terms of even-numbered positions shall be three years. All subsequent terms shall be for three years. Working Group members may serve up to two consecutive terms. Any vacancy in an unexpired term shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. A member whose term is ending may continue on an interim basis as a member with voting rights until such time as a successor for that position has been appointed.
    5. The Working Group shall organize itself and adopt such rules and administrative procedures for its own governance, consistent with City Charter and ordinances, as are necessary for its functions and responsibilities.
  2. The Working Group shall perform the following duties:
    1. Provide to the Executive and the City Council a privacy and civil liberties impact assessment for each SIR that must be included with any departmental request for surveillance technology acquisition or in-use approval. The impact assessment shall include a description of the potential impact of the surveillance technology on civil rights and liberties and potential disparate impacts on communities of color and other marginalized communities. The CTO shall share with the Working Group a copy of the SIR that shall also be posted during the period of public engagement. At the conclusion of the public engagement period, the CTO shall share the final proposed SIR with the Working Group at least six weeks prior to submittal of the SIR to Council for approval. The Working Group shall provide its impact assessment in writing to the Executive and the City Council for inclusion in the SIR within six weeks of receiving the final proposed SIR. If the Working Group does not provide the impact assessment before such time, the Working Group must ask for a two-week extension of time to City Council in writing.   If the Working Group fails to submit an impact assessment within eight weeks of receiving the SIR, the department and City Council may proceed with ordinance consideration without the impact assessment.
    2. The Working Group shall provide recommendations to the CTO for inclusion in the CTO’s annual equity impact assessment in accordance with subsection 14.18.050.B.
    3. The Working Group shall provide assistance as resources permit to the Executive and Council in ensuring members of vulnerable communities have the opportunity to provide input and feedback on Surveillance Technologies through the SIR approval process.
  3. The Working Group shall be staffed by the Executive Department with Central Staff input.