Case Study: Schiphol Airport CO2 Emission of Flights

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Authors: A. Singh & J.P.R. van der Laarse
Publication Date: December 4, 2021

For our final case study, we focused on predicting CO2 emissions from flights taking off and landing at Schiphol Airport, using AI. 

Why this is an interesting case 

Schiphol has promised to be CO2 neutral by 2030. This promise, however, only considers the airport itself, and not the actual flights. Think for example of the cars that drive along the taxiways. 

Parallel to this promise, we see an annual increase in flight movements that would largely cancel out the reduced CO2 emissions of the airport.

Inverse Surveillance AI 

If we have a look at our definition of Inverse Surveillance AI the case study should follow the following rules: 

(1) Citizens are surveilling governments and bigger organizations (2) in order to control and influence and (3) thus promote transparency and equality, and by doing so democratizing power.

In this case, the AI predicting CO2 emissions of flights will be used by citizens to surveil a bigger organization, Schiphol Group, in the context of their promise to reduce emissions. 

Flight Data 

For this case study, the data we need to surveil this larger organization is freely available, namely flight data. For this we can use the following: 

Via the developers portal from Schiphol airport, we can use their API and request all sorts of data, especially flight data:

We can also make use of this Schiphol Airport Flight Data API Python Wrapper on Github 

CO2 emission of flights

We can use the following links for making CO2 emission assumptions and calculations:

CO2 Emission of commercial aviation (per airplane type) 

CO2 Emission of aviation calculations by Carbonindependent 

CO2 footprint calculation based on the distance between airports 

Github links – CO2 Prediction

Base to start with

Different type of regressions:

Overview of time series forecasting

Panopticon Effect 

Now that citizens can predict CO2 emissions using AI, and thus surveil Schiphol Group by doing so, this surveillance would not work if we do not include the panopticon effect. For this, we need to publicly share the output of this AI where citizens, activists, and journalists can freely see and export this information and use it against Schiphol Group in their protests, and (social) media. By doing so, we can hold Schiphol Group accountable, poke through their emission-free story by showing that the real problems are the actual flights and substantiate (political) arguments against Schiphol Group. By doing so, citizens will be empowered to stand up against the Schiphol Group and change the power dynamic more in their favor.

International Use 

Similar cases can be developed for other airports. Although for the panopticon effect we currently rely on a free society where protests are allowed and have impact on politicians and thus regulations.

Inverse Surveillance AI Expert Interviews

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In collaboration with podcast Future Based we conducted 4 expert interviews on the topic of Inverse Surveillance

Episode 1 – Aidan Lyon

“In this first podcast episode we will go into conversation with Aidan Lyon. Aidan completed his PhD in 2010 at the Australian National University on the philosophical foundations of probability. His research focuses on psychedelics, meditation, uncertainty, wisdom, and collective decision making. Aidan is also an entrepreneur: He is CEO and co-founder of DelphiCloud, and often works as a freelance consultant on projects relating to my research areas. His new book Psychedelic Experience, is a philosophical analysis of psychedelic experience with the central thesis that psychedelic experiences are mind-revealing experiences and can also occur via meditation.” source: Future Based Podcast Page

Episode 2 – Steve Mann

Steve Mann, an inventor and professor widely hailed as “the father of wearable computing” expanded on the concept at the MIT Media Lab. He is a professor studying priveillance, i.e. the interplay between privacy and the veillances such as surveillance (oversight) and sousveillance (undersight) as well as metaveillance (sensing sensors and sensing their capacity to sense). Steve has been described by the media as “the world’s first cyborg” for his invention of Mediated Reality (predecessor of Augmented Reality), and also invented HDR and panoramics now implemented in most cameras including Apple iPhone. He is considered by many to be the inventor of the WearComp (wearable computer) and WearCam (EyeTap and reality mediator). Furthermore, Steve joined Blueberry as Co-Founder and CTO in 2020. He is currently the acting director of the EyeTap Personal Imaging (ePI) Lab at the University of Toronto. He is also the Chief Technical Advisor of VisionerTech.

Steve has written more than 200 publications+books+patents, and his work and inventions have has been shown at the Smithsonian Institute, National Museum of American History, The Science Museum (Wellcome Wing, opening with Her Majesty The Queen June 2000), MoMA (New York), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Triennale di Milano, Austin Museum of Art, and San Francisco Art Institute.” source: Future Based Podcast Page

Episode 3 – Nadia Benaissa

Nadia Benaissa is a human right advocate and has worked as a data protection officer at the municipality, she is humanitarian, writer and policy advisor at Bits of Freedom. Bits of Freedom is an organization that stands up for two fundamental rights in your digital communication that are indispensable for your freedom: privacy and communication freedom. These rights have been built up over centuries in the offline world and because they are incredibly important for your individual freedom, for a just society and for a healthy functioning democracy, it is important to reflect on how online rights are being guaranteed. But how exactly is democracy, freedom and privacy being ensured online? In this episode, we talk with Nadia about the commonalities between AI and law and learning from historical data to improve the future.” source: Future Based Podcast Page

Episode 4 – Rudy van Belkom

Rudy van Belkom is a futures researcher at the Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends (STT). He recently published his book about ethics in the design process (‘AI no longer has a plug’) that offers developers, policymakers, philosophers and basically anyone with an interest in AI, tools for integrating ethics into the AI design process. The main question of his research is always: what future do we want? We need to ask ourselves what purpose we want to use technology for, rather than seeing it as purpose in itself. How can we use technology to create a better world? And what exactly is a better world? Currently Rudy is focusing on the impact of technology on the future of Democracy. In addition he developed an ethical design game for AI, inspired by the scrum process, that can be used to translate ethical issues into practice. The essence of the game is based on the position paper that he wrote together with the HU research group on AI and was accepted for ECAI 2020: ‘An Agile Framework for Trustworthy AI’. Van Belkom also investigated the role of AI in the future of his own field.” source: Future Based Podcast Page

Inverse Surveillance AI Hackathon 2021

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This hackathon is part of the Inverse Surveillance AI research project.

Hackathon Challenge: With your help we can demonstrate the potential of Inverse Surveillance AI —> using AI to surveil governments and bigger organizations to identify and predict wrongful behavior or systematic flaws and by doing so empower citizens.

Everyone is welcome to join. (Individuals & Teams)
This includes students, researchers, professionals, etc.

What to Expect

The hackathong consists of two parts:
1. One month of preparation time (starting October 15, 2021)
2. Hackathon Weekend (19-20-21 November, 2021)

Online, via Discord, English, CET (UTC+1h)

Those with other obligations are not required to join all hackathon events, as long as you submit your code before the deadline.

1. Concept for Inverse Surveillance AI
2. Proof of Concept of Inverse Surveillance AI
3. A (video) pitch explaining your Proof of Concept

You can download the full Hackathon briefing in the link below. Here you can find a full description, the challenge expectation, guiding questions, Prices, Elaborate Timeline & Schedule, etc.

Timeline & Schedule

  • Preparation Month – Friday 15 Oct. – Friday 19 Nov.
    You are allowed to prepare your concept and write code
  • Pe-Hackathon Week – Friday 12 Nov. – Friday 19 Nov.
    • Q&A Session: Friday 12 Nov., 18:00-19:00 CET (UTC+1h)
  • Hackathon Day 1 – Friday 19 Nov. (18:30 – 20:30)
  • Hackathon Day 2 – Saturday 20 Nov. (09:00-18:00)
  • Hackathon Day 3 – Sunday 21 Nov. (09:00-18:30)
    • 15:00 CET (UTC+1h) Submit code, and (video) pitch

Join and make a difference!

Your Proof of Concept, in combination with the theoretical research and expert interview podcasts will serve as a launchpad for future research and work into the topic of Inverse Surveillance AI.

Inverse Surveillance offers a new pespective on the dynamic between citizens and bigger organisation and governments. AI makes this dynamic feasible. Inverse Surveillance AI can empower citizens and turn them into auditors keeping bigger organisations and goverments in check, and by doing so democratize technology in the process.

Your proof of concept has the power to demonstrate the potential of Inverse Surveillance AI and get this idea rolling.

Sign-Up & Questions

For sign-ups you can e-mail Juliette van der Laarse at or contact her through LinkedIn

Two Examples for Inverse Surveillance

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Authors: J.P.R. van der Laarse & N.L. Neuman
Publication Date: September 24, 2021

Here we provide some metaphors as examples to better illustrate Inverse Surveillance. These metaphors are a representation of how we see inverse surveillance in comparison to other forms of surveillance and sousveillance at this moment in time. Throughout this project we aim to continue to refine this concept, and more clearly describe the differences between the different forms of veillance. 

Defining Surveillance

We use the terms surveillance and sousveillance as stand-alone concepts in these metaphors, based on the consensus within academic research. But surveillance could also be seen as an umbrella term for all activities. And the same is true for the term sousveillance with respect to all surveillance activities carried out by citizens, including inverse surveillance. 

The definitions used in these metaphors are based on our framework for inverse surveillance research. Prof. Steve Mann, the author on sousveillance, uses a broad veillance framework for veillances that encompasses surveilllance, sousveillance, inverse surveillance and other veillance concepts. He made the case for using veillance as the umbrella term instead of surveillance, which has different connotations.

1) Police Officer vs. Auditor

Inverse surveillance is by definition not anti-government in a dystopian sense, but pro-government from a utopian stance. Inverse surveillance provides citizens with leverage for holding a government accountable, which ought to be considered a positive effect in a functioning democratic society. For the Panopticon effect to work, there needs to be some level of threat. However, citizens will not take the role of a police officer, who issues fines based on criminal behaviour, and exercises power. Rather, citizens using inverse surveillance AI will essentially fulfill the role of an auditor. Auditors are also within their right to assess, correct, and sometimes enforce norms under the threat of specific consequences.However, an auditor is different from a police officer, since auditors report, while offering organizations also an opportunity for improvement. An auditor can be seen as an additional means of control to check that everything is running as it should within an organisation according to some normative framework. Despite the strict monitoring role of auditors, in which they directly hold organizations accountable for their behavior, independent auditors are frequently hired by organizations themselves to monitor their business and operations to ensure that they have everything in order when a formal audit occurs. This dynamic of organizations reaching out to auditors for help in auditing their systems and contributing ideas for improvement is exactly the kind of relationship our Inverse Surveillance project aims to stimulate between citizens and governments or other large /organizations. 

2) School examination

This metaphor relates to the different forms of veillance, and aims to illustrate the differences.

Surveillance: A teacher walks around during an exam to check if students are cheating. This is a form of power from above.

Counter-Surveillance: A student sits behind a pillar during an exam in protest, or sets their table up so that the teacher cannot perceive them properly. Whether the student cheats or not is irrelevant. The focus is on evading surveillance by the teacher. 

Sousveillance: The teacher walks past the tables and a student addresses their behaviour. For example, “Sir/Madam, I keep seeing you walking past the tables of students of colour. This is a form of discrimination”. The teachers’ surveillance is being observed and reported by a student.

Inverse Surveillance: The teacher walks past the students making their exam, without the students paying attention to it. Surveillance is part of this process and the students are not necessarily concerned about it. However, the students have set up a student council to evaluate the teachers and school system. Are they working fairly? What exactly is being surveilled? Have any processes crept in that lead to, for example, occurrences of racism? Or are there patterns that can be identified that indicate corruption? 

Podcast: Creativity and Constraint in Artificial and Biological Intelligence

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The Brain Inspired podcast approached us for a conversation about Creativity and Constraint in Biological and Artificial Intelligence. We cover generating art with neural networks, AI’s challenges for neuroscience, and how the infamous frame problem in AI traces all the way back to Plato.

Listen to it on iTunes, Spotify, or below:

Brain Inspired podcast 062 Stefan Leijnen: Creativity and Constraint

Artistic Style Transfer Blending

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Transferring the style from one image to another has been done plenty of times before and has gotten a fair bit media coverage lately. One thing we considered was the possibility of not just transferring the style from one image, but combining the styles of multiple images and transferring those; style transfer blending. After throwing around a few ideas, the thought came around of combining two images of different styles and feeding that to existing style transfer applications. The results where quite interesting…

These are some of the input images we used for the various style combinations:


We used three style permutations, each style being a compound of two input images. We tested each combined style on these three different images:


And here are some of the results after 200 iterations:


There is definitely some potential in combining styles and transferring them to content. It may proof useful to designers looking for inspiration, providing a more diverse and bigger set of suggestions.