JAN 18, 2018 1:34 PM PST

Is Streetlight Surveillance Coming to Your City?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Intelli-Platform is a wireless streetlight surveillance and communications system created by the Wi-Fiber company in Camp Spring, Maryland. Wi-Fiber won “Best in Show” in the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) “Smart City” category for its Intelli-Platform and other wireless-based city projects.

Intelli-Platform, credit: Wi-Fiber

Along with making the Intelli-Platform, Wi-Fiber specializes in delivering high-functioning, fast (capable of gigabit speeds), continuous wireless technology to communities. In the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, for example, it used its network called “Blinked” to create a continuous wireless “mesh” around the entire area, providing residents with free Wi-Fi. It has also provided wireless solutions for underserved housing projects in Arlington and parts of Boston.

“To date, we’ve seen success by listening to the needs of the municipalities, their employees and the citizenry … With each new deployment, we’ve deepened our understanding of the mechanics of the market, the fiber routes of disparate cities, the challenges those cities often face, and the near- and long-term road maps of their smart efforts,” Wi-Fiber Founding Partner and Chief Experience Officer Chase Donnelly says.

The multifunctional Intelli-Platform widens the scope of Wi-Fiber’s services markedly – it offers speakers, strobe and color-shifting LED lights, two-way microphones, cameras that are able to recognize faces and license plates, and a gunshot detector. Intelli-Platform also has reliable 2/5G Wi-Fi, IoT (Internet of Things, or interconnected-device networking) and LTE (long-term evolution, describing its quick Wi-Fi capabilities) connectivity. The devices can be hooked up to existing streetlight systems within about 30 minutes and are modular – individual components with different functions can be added and removed on their own.

Dr. Michael Sherwood is the director of information technology for Las Vegas, where the largest mass shooting carried out by an individual in U.S. history took place in 2017. He has been working with the city on safety solutions and is setting up a partnership with Wi-Fiber. He is a fan of the Intelli-Platform and thinks it could have saved lives, had it been in place during the October shooting. He expressed at CES that the system could likely have enabled law enforcement to triangulate the gunshots more quickly and issued auditory and mobile warnings, among other helpful capabilities.

Elsewhere in the U.S., other municipal surveillance programs are in the process of expanding. In New Orleans, the city announced the expansion of a surveillance video network in November 2017, with plans to integrate personal and business-owned cameras.

“If you’re in public, you don’t have that expectation of privacy. People should conduct themselves accordingly,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

Similarly, in December 2017, New Orleans proposed a requirement that all business selling alcohol would have to put up surveillance cameras that “would store footage on a cloud-based government server.”

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana interim Executive Director Jane Johnson said the measure would subject “New Orleanians to near-constant monitoring of their daily lives … ” adding, “This kind of pervasive government surveillance system has been shown to be both ineffective and susceptible to abuse, raising serious constitutional concerns for privacy and undermining trust with the community.”

As of April 2017, Chicago reportedly had the third biggest camera surveillance set-up in the world, with about 10,000 cameras, behind Beijing (No.2) and London (No. 1). Chicago has the biggest system in the U.S. New York City’s surveillance system is the fourth largest in the world with about 6,000 cameras.

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
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