#Police Using Streetlamps to Spy on the Public

Gone are the days when cities used streetlamps to simply illuminate sidewalks and streets. Today’s streetlamps are being used to form an interconnected web of surveillance devices. A recent San Diego Union-Tribune article revealed how San Diego police officers have used streetlamp video surveillance in at least 140 cases and sometimes as frequently as 20 times a month. Let that sink in for a moment; spying streetlamps are real and police have already requested video footage from more than 140 streetlamps. Lt. Jeffery Jordon called spying streetlamps “game-changing” and that is exactly how they should be viewed. Streetlamps that are designed to spy on the public really is a game-changer. San Diego’s street lamps are equipped with ShotSpotter microphones that police claim are not being used to listen to public conversations. Should we believe them? Could police use ShotSpotter to listen to public conversations? Nearly a decade ago, the East Bay Times revealed how the Oakland Police used ShotSpotter to record public conversations. It was only three years ago when the NJ Transit secretly used DriveCam’s LTYX cameras equipped with microphones to listen to public conversations. So just what is law enforcement using these streetlamps for? No one knows for sure, but a spokesperson for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said that a citywide policy to regulate the use of the microphones and cameras in streetlamps is “under development.” The San Diego Union-Tribune claims that 100 police officers have direct access to streetlamp surveillance and said that nearly every one of the department’s 1,800 police officers can request access. Just how concerned is the City Council that law enforcement is using streetlamps as surveillance devices? Apparently not very much, as City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery admitted, by saying that she’s “open to exploring” oversight of the program. In what dystopian nightmare are we living in, where listening and watching everything we do in public is “underdevelopment” or “open to oversight?” Over the past few years, I have written numerous stories about smart streetlamp/streetlight surveillance. Police are also using street lamps equipped with things like Smart Nodes and secret facial recognition cameras to identify Bluetooth devices and people. More recently, I warned everyone that law enforcement is using GE’s CityIQ street lights and Intellistreets to identify people. (Cl

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