Mayor Walsh’s advisory group will review proposed uses of tethered unmanned aerial systems in emergency situations and remote cameras to disrupt illegal dumping at vacant lots

The City of Syracuse Surveillance Technology Working Group is asking for community input on two proposed technologies. The City is considering the use of tethered unmanned aerial systems deployed in emergency situations and remote cameras and sensors to monitor for illegal dumping at vacant lots.

Input can be submitted at an online form which will be open for comment until Tuesday, July 27. Additional information about the technologies is provided below:

Tethered UAS

Tethered devices launch to give public safety responders situational awareness on major incidents like fatal crashes, train derailments, endangered missing persons, mass shootings, or barricaded individuals. They can also provide public safety awareness at large public gatherings or events. The devices, manufactured by Fotokite, only go up and down and have no horizontal capabilities.

  • Devices provide photography and video
  • Use will be subject to applicable regulatory and legal restrictions, i.e. Federal Aviation Administration rules governing airspace requirements and U.S. Constitution Fourth Amendment right to privacy
  • Devices will be launched only when circumstances require situational awareness

Vacant Lot Monitoring

Monitoring uses cameras and sensors mounted on street lights or utility poles to monitor City-owned vacant lots where illegal dumping is a recurring problem. The pilot program is part of the City of Syracuse Smart City initiative in partnership with the New York Power Authority. It is being reviewed by the advisory group because equipment could capture images of people or vehicles which pass within the camera’s field of view.

  • Comparative analytics use images over time to identify changes at the site.  Notifications will be sent if there are changes indicating illegal dumping.
  • Department of Public Works staff will have access to review photos after an illegal dumping notification.
  • Proposed for use at five initial sites; the program could be expanded, if effective.

Mayor Walsh appointed the Surveillance Technology Advisory Group to ensure residents have input on potential surveillance technology by the City. The group will consider public input as part of its review process for authorizing use of the technologies. The process is outlined in the City Surveillance Technology Policy. Mayor Walsh signed an Executive Order requiring the creation of the policy and public input in December 2020.

Questions regarding the review can be directed to Amanda Darcangelo in the Office of Accountability, Performance, and Innovation at

1 Comment

  1. I agree with the use of cameras and would like to see an increase in cameras for traffic control.

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