New street lights called “Intellistreets” are coming to Chicago. These are not your average street lights. These lights also double as surveillance monitors. They can play music, direct traffic, monitor conversations, take pictures, and send emergency signals. The lights include “Homeland Security” applications and are being installed in a few cities, including Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit, with the aid of government funding. The first concept installation of the system was launched in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Some say these lights should be called, “Spying Street Lights.”
The system detects movement and can identify whether the movement is a car, person or animal. If too much movement is detected, the police are notified.
As you can imagine, some view this as an invasion of privacy, “creepy” and the feeling that Big Brother is watching. Others see the system as a way to keep their neighborhoods safer. One example is that some believe such a system could have prevented a deadly shooting that took place in the Uptown area of Charlotte, NC, last May. The shooting is believed to have been gang related.
The Deputy of Charlotte, North Carolina Homeland Security chief was quoted as saying, “If the City installed street lights with surveillance abilities…you would never know.”
The founder of the system, Ron Harwood, said he came up with the idea after 911 and Hurricane Katrina. He is the president of the company that manufactures these lights – Illuminating Concepts. In an interview with Fox News, Harwood said that if speakers are installed in the poles, authorities could speak to people to tell them what to do if there is an emergency. He also said that access to pictures/images would not be available to just anyone. He said that a police officer, city official or city employee would have to “ask” to retrieve an image from a pole and that image would be in the form of a “picture.” It was after Harwood’s development that he began discussions with Homeland Security.
It seems to me that law enforcement or investigators would need more than a picture if they were trying to analyze a crime – who did what and when, etc. It would seem you would need active surveillance to determine what took place during a crime. When people don’t feel they are being told everything, they aren’t going to trust the system. If the system is capable of surveillance and monitoring conversations, why would one believe that only a picture would be released to authorities?
Using street lights as surveillance tools has already been advanced by several European countries. In 2007, leaked documents out of the UK Home Office revealed that British authorities were working on proposals to fit lamp posts with CCTV cameras that would X-ray scan passers-by and “undress them” in order to “trap terror suspects.”
Dutch police also announced last year that they are developing a mobile scanner that will “see through people’s clothing and look for concealed weapons.”
So-called ‘talking surveillance cameras’ that use a speaker system similar to the Intellistreets model are already being used in UK cities like Middlesborough to bark orders and reprimand people for dropping litter and other minor offenses.
According to reports, one of the most common phrases used to shame people into obeying instructions is to broadcast the message, “We are watching you.”
At $3,000 a piece, Intellistreets luminaries have the potential of lowering energy costs by adjusting brightness to match the appropriate atmosphere and location. Additionally, the company says it has an endless number of entertainment options and can serve as a public address system of sorts and offer advertisements up to passersby. That’s right — it records video, counts heads and spews propaganda! When you put it that way, it’s no wonder that Harwood is in cahoots with Homeland Security.
The transformation of street lights into surveillance tools for Homeland Security purposes will only serve to heighten concerns that the United States is fast on the way to becoming a high-tech police state, with TSA agents being empowered to oversee that control grid, most recently with the announcement that TSA screeners would be manning highway checkpoints, a further indication that security measures we currently see in airports are rapidly spilling out onto the streets.
According to the Illuminating Concepts Website, the Intellistreets system comprises of a wireless digital infrastructure that allows street lights to be controlled remotely by means of a ubiquitous wi-fi link and a miniature computer housed inside each street light, allowing for “security, energy management, data harvesting, and digital media.”
After the first installments took place in Michigan, a backlash began to hit Intellistreets and the company removed a YouTube video that offered an eerie insight into the surveillance capabilities. The video was also quick to once again note the Homeland Security features which have the potential to link up to government agencies. Infowars responded by asking, “If Intellistreets is such a cutting-edge concept that presents an array of wonderful benefits, as the promo video claims, then why remove it from You Tube?” “Now that the company has tried to hide the video, it will only generate more suspicion about the true purpose behind Intellistreets and the level of involvement on behalf of Homeland Security,” read a blog post on the site.
Sources: Fox News, nowtheendbegins.com, forbiddenknowledgetv.com, rt.com, infowars.com