When stay-at-home orders were enacted in late March, many people experiencing homelessness had nowhere to go. Shelters around the city saw increases in demand and have had to adapt to this new reality, taking measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, keep residents occupied and help people living on the streets. These new conditions have had an impact on residents’ mental health and, combined with heightened demand, have increased shelters’ operating costs.
Alisa Grishman has experienced clear pathways and inclusive venues while navigating Pittsburgh in her wheelchair. But she’s also encountered sidewalks without curb cuts and with obstructions.
Though Pittsburgh has become more accessible to people with disabilities since the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] passed in 1990, parts of the city have presented challenges to Grishman’s mobility. The act requires existing buildings to remove accessibility barriers when easily done and minimally expensive, but it’s only enforceable through citizen complaints and lawsuits filed with the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Dystopian” and “'Black Mirror'-esque” are among the ways critics have described Clearview, a facial recognition technology startup founded in 2016. The program’s ability to scrape photos off of the web and instantly aggregate information on just about anyone with an online presence, without their knowledge, has drawn the ire of privacy advocates, Democratic lawmakers and the same social media companies it relies on for data.
The system has been used by more than 600 law enforcement agencies in the United States and abroad — including, as newly obtained records show, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.
Emails obtained by PublicSource through an open records request show that Clearview trial accounts were linked to email addresses of four employees in the office of District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.: analysts Andrew Colvin, Ted DeAngelis and Norah Xiong, and detective Lyle Graber. The trials started at different times, with emails first referencing a trial on Feb. 7 and last noting a log in on March 17. Three of the employee accounts were signed in to more than once.