“It is therefore not possible to simply reject Chinese companies”

The municipalities are working on model agreements for technology, including cameras. Camera surveillance is increasingly taking place, but there is often still a lack of a central point of expertise in the municipalities. “Now each department is buying its own cameras,” said Councilor Saskia Bruines of The Hague AG Connect

At his own municipality, Bruines, VNG portfolio holder Smart Society, notes that digital security is also becoming an increasingly pressing issue at the local level. Therefore, the Digital Safe The Hague agenda was presented recently, which contains a clear strategy to make The Hague digitally more secure in the coming years.

Central control

Bruine sees the need for this in the discussion about Chinese cameras, which are used by many municipalities, but where it can not be ruled out whether espionage is taking place. The Hague Municipality currently has several hundred cameras. »These are used for all kinds of services and purposes in a municipality: traffic, safety, environmental zones and in the town hall itself. The municipality’s various policy areas usually procure them themselves, they are responsible for the supply. We are working towards centralized control, where all the necessary knowledge about camera technology is available. ‘

Municipalities are all on the same page, but not all municipalities are equally fast

According to Bruines, the story behind this central control is ‘bigger’ than just Chinese cameras. ‘How do you handle devices in public spaces that measure or track data? It does not have to be just about cameras. This also includes sensors, for example. ‘ There is now often a lack of one specific point in the municipality where knowledge is available. The Hague wants to change that in the future. ‘It is important as a municipality to get a better grip on this. In a world of data collection, you have to set rules, know what is happening and what is allowed and not allowed.

Procurement rules for China

It is important for the municipalities that, among other things, tender rules for the purchase of technology are examined. But it is not easy. “You can’t just deny parties at random. At least not if they comply with the purchasing rules. There must be legal certainty for the parties and a level playing field. So simply denying Chinese companies is not possible. A municipality must always be able to explain why. Discrimination on the basis of land is not possible. With VNG, we are looking at the flexibility of the existing rules for this. ‘

In addition, European or American cameras may also be unsafe, or use Chinese parts. ‘Safe. Due to the changing technological possibilities, complexity is a constant. The US government has also been accused of espionage. The important thing is that you as a municipality are very aware of what exactly you collect. The data must not be traced back to persons and images must not be stored permanently. ‘

A model agreement has previously been developed with VNG, which the municipalities can use when purchasing smart technology. This is now being expanded so that the municipalities can also use it when purchasing this type of specific technology. ‘The municipalities are all on the same page here, but not all municipalities are equally fast.’

The digital committee works well

It is important that all organizations can make use of good knowledge in the field and follow the same line. The national government may also play a role in providing VNG with handles. It happened too little in the past. But according to Bruines, dialogue with the government is getting better and better thanks to the new Secretary of State for Digital Affairs. »The Standing Digital Committee is also bearing fruit, because there are people who really understand what it’s all about and who would like to know from us what themes are at stake. At the same time, they are a good source of information for us. ‘

The extension of the model agreement for the purchase of smart technology for municipalities is expected in about six months.

This article was previously viewed on AG Connect

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