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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just replied on another thread about an idea that I think has legs. This was my post there.

Discussions around the theme of checking before driving to a particular charger remind me of a thought that I had ages ago. As we all know there are websites where you can log on to view a webcam at thousands of places worldwide to see what's going on there.

If sites such as ZapMap, in conjunction with the larger charge companies, were to install a webcam overlooking the charger sites and their surroundings we could then login and actually see the situation in real-time before deciding to visit there. Each site already has comms and power so the cost of a pole and a webcam would be negligible. Just needs someone like Zapmap to take it up and grab the kudos.

This is one site set up by someone focussed on Cornwall to cover many towns there. A similar website overlooking all of the major multiple charging sites would be mega useful.

Padstow webcam | Aspects Holidays (aspects-holidays.co.uk)
 

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Good idea as long as the car and driver aren't identifiable.
Two other problems are the car that is there with no idea of how long it will remain and the car that arrives just before you.
Perhaps we could also require drivers to sign in to a charge point with a planned leaving time or SoC and for the charge point to publish that and disconnect at that point? Also maybe a charged for booking system, e.g. you book to arrive at a time and are charged from that time regardless?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good idea as long as the car and driver aren't identifiable.
Why would that be a problem? A public webcam observing a public place is exactly like a human stood there using their Mark I eyeball. And there is no expectation of privacy when stood in a public place.

What a webcam would show is not only the current state of play there but also whether a couple of cars were hanging around in a queue. It would be a live stream, and watching for a minute or so could be a good indication of whether to head there or divert to another site - where another webcam view looks better.

Obviously, it is certainly no indication that when you got there after a 15-minute drive you would still find the same situation. But as a tool for decision making could be very useful.
 

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Why would that be a problem? A public webcam observing a public place is exactly like a human stood there using their Mark I eyeball. And there is no expectation of privacy when stood in a public place.

What a webcam would show is not only the current state of play there but also whether a couple of cars were hanging around in a queue. It would be a live stream, and watching for a minute or so could be a good indication of whether to head there or divert to another site - where another webcam view looks better.

Obviously, it is certainly no indication that when you got there after a 15-minute drive you would still find the same situation. But as a tool for decision making could be very useful.
Queue monitoring is quite a ‘trivial’ software/AI problem now so perhaps a simple computer read of the camera would be able to give us the useful information needed (2 charging, 5 waiting)?
 

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Why would that be a problem? A public webcam observing a public place is exactly like a human stood there using their Mark I eyeball. And there is no expectation of privacy when stood in a public place.
That's the case for private streaming, but not commercial. Arguably even an organisation like Zap-Map would have to get everybody to agree to a privacy notice, a bit difficult in a public carpark for all users not just those queuing for a charge point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's the case for private streaming, but not commercial. Arguably even an organisation like Zap-Map would have to get everybody to agree to a privacy notice, a bit difficult in a public carpark for all users not just those queuing for a charge point.
I'm sure that the live webcams showing in the Cornwall link above didn't seek permits from passing people and cars. Or in this link either.

Malham Village Webcam (malhamwebcam.co.uk)

It is pretty common to have a webcam view live online these days that appear to be hosted by several companies who have jumped through any jobsworth hoops in return for advertising income. If any random Hotel can be showing a live view of their surroundings then it has to be possible to show a parking site with a couple of Rapids and cars plugged in.
 

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I remember reading up on where it was OK to position CCTV cameras and where it wasn't some time ago, when fitting ours. Can't find the relevant regulations now, but I believe that you're not supposed to have any cameras pointing at other people's property, or at public areas, without consent. The two we have outside the garden I positioned to look along our drive, one at the garage end, looking towards the house, the other at the house end looking down towards the garage. I had to make sure that neither had a view of the lane, and that signs warning that CCTV was in use were displayed. I did get a jobsworth have a moan at the PTZ camera I fitted to look at wildlife in the garden, claiming that I could pan it around and look down the lane. He's a police officer, though, so perhaps felt he needed to point this out. I fixed it by just setting stops in the software, so it won't rotate around to look outwith the garden.

Not sure how all these Ring doorbells etc get around this, as some seem to show wide views of public areas (like the one that recorded a dog being stolen last week). I thought to position a camera like this required some sort of consent, in the same way as shop and garage security cameras do.
 

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The Malham cam seems to point too high to show any people.
The Cornwall one looks very intrusive, though. Sharp enough to recognise people easily, and lots of of them in view when I looked just now, who I'm sure didn't give consent to be on a world-viewable video.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The Malham cam seems to point too high to show any people.
The Cornwall one looks very intrusive, though. Sharp enough to recognise people easily, and lots of of them in view when I looked just now, who I'm sure didn't give consent to be on a world-viewable video.
Yes. But my point was that in seconds I was able to discover thousands of webcams showing misc views with people and cars in good detail. I showed two such. Another I have just found was a view across the road from a Guernsey hotel onto a beach. With passing cars and people clearly seen.

There simply has to be a way to display public webcams or these hosting sites would not be able to operate. Perhaps a charger outfit like ZapMap just needs to piggyback onto places that have already overcome the difficulties. And share any ad revenue.
 

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Yes. But my point was that in seconds I was able to discover thousands of webcams showing misc views with people and cars in good detail. I showed two such. Another I have just found was a view across the road from a Guernsey hotel onto a beach. With passing cars and people clearly seen.

There simply has to be a way to display public webcams or these hosting sites would not be able to operate. Perhaps a charger outfit like ZapMap just needs to piggyback onto places that have already overcome the difficulties. And share any ad revenue.

I think that all you need to do to make a public view camera comply with the GDPR and DPA. There's some guidance here, aimed at users of home CCTV, but it may be applicable to a public web cam view: Domestic CCTV systems - guidance for people using CCTV

Must be hundreds of thousands of people that have installed things like Ring doorbells, or car dash cams, that are probably blissfully unaware of this, and from the number of publicly available video clips around it looks as if the ICO pretty much ignore it too.

TBH, it doesn't look too onerous. As the person responsible for positioning a camera that has a public view you just become the "data controller". That places some obligations on you, but this look to be pretty trivial. You have to respond to any Subject Access Request (most likely from the police, I suspect), you have to agree to delete any recorded material if you get a legitimate request (say someone complains that they, or perhaps their car, has been identified) unless you have a valid reason not to (say a legal dispute) and you have to take heed of any objection to placing the cameras (doesn't mean you have to take them down, though).

If any webcam isn't storing imagery, then you pretty much avoid some of the issues above relating to data storage. It's not your problem, it seems, if someone else chooses to record your video feed, the onus presumably switches to them as the "data controller" if that happens (good luck tracing them!). I would guess that things like Ring doorbells do make the owner the "data controller", as they store clips, but the same is true for everyone driving around with a dash cam, or any Tesla owner that has sentry mode activated.

FWIW, I've been driving around with a dash cam recording since about 2010, and my wife's been doing the same since earlier this year. I frankly don't give a shit about the legal nuances of doing this, I'd far rather just have hard evidence of what happens if I'm ever involved in an accident.

I think the idea of having publicly viewable web cams at chargers is a brilliant idea, not only for seeing their current status, but also for seeing all the ICE wankers that park in charging bays, so they can be publicly shamed.

Probably an ideal topic for those that love to nitpick into the details of laws that are rarely, if ever, acted on, and fill the next few dozen pages of this thread with in-depth pseudo legal reasons as to why webcams doing something useful like this should make the owners subject to the death penalty . . .(that is a joke . . . ).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Probably an ideal topic for those that love to nitpick into the details of laws that are rarely, if ever, acted on, and fill the next few dozen pages of this thread with in-depth pseudo legal reasons as to why webcams doing something useful like this should make the owners subject to the death penalty . . .(that is a joke . . . ).
I know that the last few words are a joke but the rest of that paragraph is spot on. There are millions of lip pursing tooth sucking people out there whose main aim in life is to find thousands of reasons not to implement sensible measures rather than one to support it. Negativity is something I have fought against all of my professional life.
 

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Probably an ideal topic for those that love to nitpick into the details of laws that are rarely, if ever, acted on, and fill the next few dozen pages of this thread with in-depth pseudo legal reasons as to why webcams doing something useful like this should make the owners subject to the death penalty . . .(that is a joke . . . ).
There are millions of lip pursing tooth sucking people out there whose main aim in life is to find thousands of reasons not to implement sensible measures rather than one to support it. Negativity is something I have fought against all of my professional life.
I'll rise to this criticism. Conflating what individuals can and actually do with the law on what companies are legally required to do is plain wrong. For someone who regularly quotes the regulations on electrical installations etc I'm disappointed. Others seem to just not accept that they could ever be wrong.

Either way I out.
 

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I know that the last few words are a joke but the rest of that paragraph is spot on. There are millions of lip pursing tooth sucking people out there whose main aim in life is to find thousands of reasons not to implement sensible measures rather than one to support it. Negativity is something I have fought against all of my professional life.
I'm 100% with you on this. Quite why so many people come up with any reason to object to something, often before they've even had time to examine it to see if it makes sense or not, is beyond me.

Had an absolutely classic example yesterday. Our drive exits on to a single track lane, right on a bend. Visibility up the lane is non-existent, so we have to drive out slowly, hoping there is nothing coming, or if there is, that it's travelling slowly enough to stop (usually the case, except for cyclists that come down the hill hell for leather). My wife's been worrying about this since we moved in, but has become more worried since she got the new car. Our nearest neighbour, on the opposite side of the lane with their drive coming out a bit further up, has the same problem, and asked us a while ago if they could fit a mirror on one of our fence posts to get a better view up the lane (the mirror has been there a few years now).

I've been thinking about a better solution, one that would give us and indication is anything is moving down the lane, and which could be extended to also give and indication opposite the end of our neighbours drive. The (experimental) solution I'm playing around with is to fit a narrow beam Doppler radar, pointing up the lane, that will turn on a red light if there's anything coming. Not easy, as it needs a pretty narrow beam to work reliably (so I'm currently looking at making a narrow beam antenna/waveguide that will work with a cheap Doppler module).

I mentioned this to our neighbour in passing yesterday, thinking she would be happy to have something (on our land) that gave them an indication of traffic coming down the hill. She went in to full-on rant mode about my stupidity in thinking of irradiating them with something so dangerous, etc etc. No amount of trying to placate her by saying that I was only adapting an automatic door opening sensor, as used in supermarkets and offices around the world, and that anyway it was only going to point up the hill, away from their house and drive, had any effect at all. Daft thing is that she heads up the local neighbourhood watch team, manages the occasional re-positioning of the Doppler radar mobile speed warning sign in the village, and uses the hand-held Doppler radar gun that's shared with two other villages for doing random community speed watch checks. I'm now working on making the thing covert, so she won't know it's there, and not fitting the additional warning light for their use.
 

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I'll rise to this criticism. Conflating what individuals can and actually do with the law on what companies are legally required to do is plain wrong. For someone who regularly quotes the regulations on electrical installations etc I'm disappointed. Others seem to just not accept that they could ever be wrong.

Either way I out.

My apologies if that was taken as personal criticism, that genuinely was not what I intended.

FWIW, I only ever emphasise the regulations that really do matter, in terms of the risk to life if they are ignored. I don't hold with many regulations, and make that clear also. For example, I think the IET insisting that the fix for poor electrical terminal design and workmanship, that causes overheating and fires, should be to make enclosures fire resistant, rather than address the real problem of poor design, is just dumb, as well as dangerous. It's not a regulation I agree with, and neither is the forthcoming regulation that's going to make AFDDs compulsory, when the evidence shows they don't really work, and that anyway, arc faults cause less serious issues than poor terminations.
 

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Rather than having CCTV on charger bays, if the charge point installers had some vision, installing inductive sensors in the parking space in front of the charger would make more sense. A charge point can then recognise if something is parked in the bay in addition to whether or not it's charging. Could also be coupled to a camera on the charge point to take a photo of the parked car if it sits there for more than 15 mins without taking a charge which might help police ICEing?
 

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Isn't software clever enough to blur the number plate and face, a la Google Street View?

Probably. However, think about all the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of cars driving around with dash cams, plus all the newer cars that have cameras as standard as a part of their sensing suites. They don't blur anything out, in fact the idea is that they need to be clear enough to make out faces, number plates etc. These things are being driven around our roads, recording people, cars and places 24/7, 365 days a year, with zero controls as far as private cars are concerned. In addition, pretty much every delivery van or truck now has cameras, recording all the time they are in use, as an anti-theft measure as much as anything else. Then there are all the millions of YouTubers, recording their everyday lives, including inside other people's homes and public spaces, and putting the footage up for the whole world to see. Finally there are all the video doorbells than seem to be fitted all over the place, and all of which video looking outwards, often on to streets.

Given that all that is already happening, and has been for years, I find it hard to see why adding live cameras to charge points should really present much of a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks to people putting forward legitimate concerns and constructive comments. Thanks also to 'others' using a passive-aggressive method of actually proving my point about how some people will always prefer to search out negatives rather than positives.

The legalities of using public cameras either as a private or business is well documented. But the reality is that the vast majority of that activity is already in a place where any attempt to prevent the capture of images when in public would be a bureaucratic nightmare.

There are already numerous sites that host webcam feeds where people can log in and view any place in the world that has a webcam, in real-time. Quite why some people think that being able to piggyback onto such an established network to view chargers is either a legal or security issue beats me.

After all, never forget that the internet as a concept actually began in a Manchester Uni where there was a communal coffee pot on one floor that was used by people on floors above and below that brewing machine. These techy people got fed up with traipsing up and down many stairs only to find that the coffee pot was empty. So they rigged up a camera overlooking the coffee station and then devised a network so that people could log into there to view the coffee station before they made a trip. And the concept of linking computers to access remote computers was born.

That coffee viewing camera was solving the precise problem we have with EV charging. Presenting information before making a wasted trip. Or at least giving meaningful data on which to base a decision.

I see no technical reason why it wouldn't work. I don't see any security issues that are not already evident in the use of CCTV, webcams, and dash cams. Everyone carries around a camera with video capability. And as for legal problems that may or may not exist the fact is that some companies have obviously been able to square that circle.

An enterprising person could follow their business approach and host an exclusive site that offered a streaming webcam image of charge points accessible by smartphones and paid for by ads in there or a small monthly subscription. And linked to an existing site such as ZapMap or Plugshare who already try to monitor chargers and advise on current status, then the ability to also offer a live view could be invaluable.

That is unless 'others', who have such strong opinions that they have exited the debate can produce a reasonable argument to show that technically it is a bad idea. And perhaps just needs a more positive suggestion to overcome any legal problems.
 
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