Data Visualization

Cameras follow every step you take in Budapest – we mapped the eyes watching you

If you walk around the inner districts of Budapest, it is a safe bet to say that every single step you take is recorded by a CCTV video camera. The main purpose of this is to make streets safe, but privacy has become a more pressing issue since a new law was passed. Atlo’s latest data visualization project maps CCTV cameras around Budapest.

According to our estimates, there are between 25 and 30 thousand CCTV cameras nationwide installed by public agencies in public spaces. There are about 10-15 thousand more installed by banks and financial institutions.

Atlo, the data team of Atlatszo filed freedom of information requests with all Budapest districts asking for the number and location of CCTV cameras in public spaces. Not all districts answered our request. Adding up the numbers sent to us by those that did, we counted approximately 2500 cameras.

Bekamerázott Budapest

A térfigyelő kamerák jelenléte sokak számára a biztonságot jelenti, másoknak pedig az állam mindenhová elkísérő szemeit. A kormány új törvénye miatt az eddig egymástól függetlenül kezelt kamerákat egyetlen rendszerbe kötik be, a felvételek tárolási és felhasználási feltételeit pedig kiterjesztik.

The cameras are making Budapest streets safer, but worries about privacy and surveillance were strengthened in October 2018 when minister of the interior Sándor Pintér introduced a bill in Parliament. The bill was passed shortly after it was introduced in Parliament.

According to one of the attorneys working for Atlatszo, Tibor Sepsi, a significant change introduced by the bill is that previously the camera footage was kept for three days but now it is kept for 30 days. Also, the new bill links all cameras and CCTV systems and integrates public and private camera systems and links their database. Also, it gives the right to public road safety and road management authorities to install cameras wherever they want. According to his analysis, all these make the new bill unconstitutional and in breach of GDPR, the EU’s data protection rules.

Atlo’s new project presents all types of cameras you can find on Budapest streets, what exactly they ’see’ and from what angle and maps them – more exactly, maps them in the districts that answered our FOI request.

Mapping the cameras in downtown Budapest

We also took a short walk around Atlatszo’s office, checking out all the cameras on the way and chatting with Tibor Sepsi about the implications of the new law. The video has English subtitles – switch them on!

Text, data and visualitation by Attila Bátorfy, Bence Mikola and Katalin Erdélyi

Coding by László Horváth. Video by Márk Tremmel, Áron Lődi and Dániel Kiszler

English version by Anita Kőműves. You can read the original, Hungarian language story here.