High-tech system to include speakers, video surveillance, emergency alerts.
New street lights that include “Homeland Security” applications including speaker systems, motion sensors and video surveillance are now being rolled out with the aid of government funding.
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,” according to the Illuminating Concepts website.
According to the company’s You Tube video of the concept, the primary capabilities of the devices include “energy conservation, homeland security, public safety, traffic control, advertising, video surveillance.”
In terms of Homeland Security applications, each of the light poles contains a speaker system that can be used to broadcast emergency alerts, as well as a display that transmits “security levels” (presumably a similar system to the DHS’ much maligned color-coded terror alert designation), in addition to showing instructions by way of its LED video screen.
The lights also include proximity sensors that can record both pedestrian and road traffic. The video display and speaker system will also be used to transmit Minority Report-style advertising, as well as Amber Alerts and other “civic announcements”.
With the aid of grant money from the federal government, the company is about to launch the first concept installation of the system in the city of Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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.”
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.
The ability of the government to use street lights to transmit “emergency alerts” also dovetails with the ongoing efforts to hijack radio and television broadcasts for the same purpose, via FEMA’s Emergency Alert System.
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