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“Intellistreets” Street Lights: Big Brother Intrusion

New American [1]
November 3, 2011

When Ben Franklin declared, “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” he wisely predicted that the American people would often be prone to willingly forego their rights for so-called protection from the federal government. The clearest example of that has been with the inception of the PATRIOT Act [2], which has garnered a surprising level of support from the majority of Americans; however, there are a number of local examples of that exchange of liberty for safety as well. The most recent example can be found in cities across the country: high tech street lights [3] which act as surveillance cameras as well as display signs.

Produced by Illuminating Concepts, the “Intellistreets [4]” feature motion sensors and video surveillance, and are composed of a “wireless digital infrastructure that allows them 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,’” reports [5]Prison Planet.

The devices are also set to aid the Department of Homeland Security by displaying “security announcements.” CBS Detroit reports [6], “The signs can be programmed by authorities to show any message — a civic welcome, directions to parking for festivals or farmer’s markets, maps, pretty much anything the imagination can conceive. In emergencies, they can also post pictures of children being sought in Amber Alerts or the location of toxic chemical releases or the paths of tornadoes (and more importantly, how to stay away from those dangerous areas).”

Intellistreets went live last week on a 10-mile stretch of road in Farmington Hills, Michigan, which served as the official testing area for the brand-new surveillance equipment. The devices were dedicated in a ceremony attended by U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

Illuminating Concepts posted a YouTube video boasting the capabilities of the special street lights, including “energy conservation, homeland security, public safety, traffic control, advertising, [and] video surveillance.”

The video likely does little to assuage concerns regarding the intrusive equipment, however, as it includes disorienting footage of the street lights being used to transmit security alerts such as “Pay attention, please — please stand by for a public safety announcement,” and “This is a security alert.”

Full article here [1]