Privacy Assurance and Acceptable Use Policy
County of Los Angeles Fire Department

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This policy outlines the guidelines for acceptable use of this network and to enumerate the policies and technical mechanisms employed to achieve the program’s goals without compromising the public’s right to privacy.


    Wide Angle: A photographic lens system with a short focal length, used to capture an image of a large area.
    Telephoto: A photographic lens system with a long focal length used to produce a large image of a distant object.
    Pan: Moving a camera left and right along its vertical axis for the purpose of framing a shot.
    Tilt: Swiveling a camera up and down along its horizontal axis for the purpose of framing a shot.
    Zoom: Changing the focal length of the lens of a camera to effect a transition, such as from a “wide-angle” type setting to a “telephoto” type setting.
    Focus: Camera adjustment that affects the distinctiveness or clarity of an image.
    Preset: A stored array of settings for Pan, Tilt, Zoom and Focus that can be quickly recalled.


Measures have been taken to ensure that only public areas are photographed. Areas where a member of the public has a reasonable expectation of privacy will be blocked from the camera’s view. Secondly, images from public areas are only viewed by specially trained personnel for use in discharging their official duties, except when it is determined that the quality of the image makes it impossible to recognize the identity of the photographed individual. We have achieved success through the careful selection, installation and implementation of technology, our editorial policies, restriction of access, and training of authorized personnel.

Technology Overview

Our cameras have remote Pan, Tilt, Zoom and Focus control giving selected users the power to view a wide variety of images from a fixed point. The cameras have been strategically placed on public beaches, perhaps also within range of homes, mobile homes, “live-aboard” boats and restrooms, where the public has a reasonable expectation of privacy. At installation time, such areas are identified and masked from the camera’s view. Our cameras have a feature where “privacy zones” are programmed into the camera, creating a digital mask of these areas.

In the event two or more users attempt to control a specific camera at the same time, the user who first takes control has priority; all others can still see the output of the camera, without controlling its Pan, Tilt, Zoom and Focus controls.

County Firewall

The network encompassing the cameras is within a Firewall, and is inaccessible over the Internet. Special protocols have been established to transfer content from within the County Firewall to Internet web servers for public use. These protocols are governed by our editorial policies discussed later in this document.

Project Overview

Twenty-seven cameras are being installed along 72 miles of coastline over a period of 27 months. These cameras produce images used by five groups: System Administrators, Operational Users, Trainees, The Public and Environmental Scientists and Analysts.

Editorial Control

Only members of the first two groups (System Administrators and Operational Users) have the ability to control the cameras in real-time, view live images, or set presets for the cameras. This group has the responsibility of exercising editorial control over the images made available to the other three groups, such that no recognizable images of individuals are made available to the public, unless permission is granted from the individual(s) in question.

Our public website contains still images from the cameras that are automatically updated periodically, but only from presets where it has been determined with certainty that the preset in question is not capable of acquiring a recognizable image of an individual, either because of the distance from the camera to potential subjects, the zoom setting of the camera, or the focus setting of the camera.

Restricted Access

Operational Users are granted access to the live images and given system privileges to control the cameras only because their professional role within the Lifeguard Service requires it, only after being trained in its proper use, and only after signing an acknowledgement of our “Operational User Policies and Procedures.” Access will be restricted using individually assigned accounts with username and password protection and automatic session timeout for inactivity.


As discussed previously under "Technology Overview," the live output from the cameras is viewable by more than one Operational User at a time. In addition to allowing team members to simultaneously view a given incident, this system will provide "internal control" for our policies with regard to appropriate use of the system. Any inappropriate use will be visible to others on the network in real-time.

Operational User Policies and Procedures

The images generated from the web cameras are considered confidential county data, and should be treated as any other confidential county data as detailed in the County’s Data Security Policy. Every Operational User has a responsibility to maintain and enhance the County’s public image and to use the system in a productive, professional manner. Any improper use of the system is unacceptable and will not be permitted. Please refer to the County’s Data Security Policy and the AUP for more details.

Acceptable Uses

Acceptable uses include, but are not limited to:

  • Inspecting beaches for activity when making staffing decisions
  • Following rescue activity to help incident commanders assign resources
  • Creating archives of conditions or operations to be used for training or public education purposes
  • Creating archives of images to be used by the program’s partners, or the academic and scientific community.
  • Training or practicing the use of these cameras for any acceptable use
  • Demonstrating the system for other lifeguards, officials or members of the public

Prohibited Uses

Technical mechanisms are in place to ensure that only public areas are photographed with our cameras. But even on public beaches, it is Fire Department Policy to behave professionally and extend the utmost respect to our beach patrons, which includes respecting their privacy. Any attempt to view or record anything that constitutes unwarranted invasion of privacy to any member of the public is strictly prohibited. Any distribution of images obtained through these cameras to non-Fire Department personnel must follow the same procedures as other confidential County data, such as by obtaining pre-approval from the Public Information Office.

The data and images collected from this network are meant to supplement that collected by personnel on-scene. Under no circumstance will any Lifeguard, regardless of rank, "second guess" an on-scene Incident Commander, based solely on data and images delivered over the network. Furthermore, "camera patrols" are supplemental, and are not a replacement for beach unit patrols.

Operational Users are hereby advised that any other user of the system may monitor use of the system at any time, including system administrators and Fire Department officials. Privacy Policy
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