Are your street lights watching you?
Such a benign and banal part of the urban landscape that city-dwellers may not even notice them, street lights are useful for brightening up a road and not much else – or so you might think. People these days are used to the idea of CCTV cameras, even hidden ones, but street lights tend to blend in to the background. Perhaps that is why they are finding new functions in the modern world, with its zealotry for surveillance.
These seemingly innocuous devices can host anything from microphones and cameras to facial recognition and de facto compulsory 5G wifi transmission.
Lighting In A Smart City
STENGG’s smart lampposts are designed merely to be a thread in a wider Internet of Things web, in which virtually every object is connected to a shared network. As part of such a system, lampposts are so much more than just street illuminators; they are multi-purpose devices used to monitor the cityscape. The designincorporates environmental sensors, a wifi hotspot, an infotainment display, radar for vehicle monitoring, and, of course, equipment for “public safety and traffic surveillance.” Naturally, this aspect of the network is downplayed; a promotional video for the company’s WISX Internet of Things system doesn’t mention population surveillance at all, and neither does a Hong Kong government brochure.
Similar technology has been used in several U.S. cities, most notably New York, which fixed microphones to street lamps in high-crime neighborhoods. The ShotSpotter sensors are said to pick up only loud, suspicious noises, such as gunshots or shouting, and then send an alert to the police department. Although the data appear to have been less than dependable, it has not stopped police from attempting to use it as evidence in criminal trials.