Security cameras are now everywhere — before private homes, in airports, inside and outside stores of every variety, at bank ATM booths, on street corners and intersections in cities big and small.
Now, we can add the humble street light to the ever-growing list of the Surveillance State.
Look out! Big Brother is Watching You.
Matt Roush reports for CBS Detroit that a company called Illuminating Concepts, based in Michigan’s Farmington Hills, launched its first “Intellistreets” concept installation in its hometown in October of last year, 2011.
Farmington Hills is using federal grant money to become the first site in the world to feature the Intellistreets system, a lighting pole system that combines energy conservation, audio entertainment, traffic control, advertising, homeland security features and more.
Intellistreets amounts to an intelligent wireless network, completely concealed within the street light pole. But it’s far more than a simple street light. Its lighting is variable for energy conservation and theming, reacting to natural light, the environment, and wireless commands. It has sensors to monitor foot and vehicle traffic. And it replaces static vinyl banners typically attached to light poles with LED screens. It can transmit information for emergency alerts, indicate evacuation routes or Amber Alert warnings, or hazardous environment alerts.
The system was invented by Illuminating Concepts founder Ron Harwood, who holds numerous patents in the lighting and multimedia fields.
On Oct. 28, 2011, politicians including Congressman Gary Peters and Farmington Hills Mayor Jerry Ellis headlined a ceremony to officially send the system live on 10 Mile Road in Farmington Hills.
This is how the company Illuminating Concepts describes these new “intelligent” street lights:
Illuminating Concepts, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based architectural lighting company, revisited the ubiquitous light pole and found vast untapped potential. With a touch of technology, the simple light pole can be transformed into a product that is poised to completely change what is possible in an urban streetscape: Intellistreets.
At its core, Intellistreets is a wireless light pole-based intelligent control system that addresses the needs of the modern cityscape. The system was designed to provide developers, urban planners and city officials with powerful new tools to enhance public safety, inform residents and visitors, and connect commercial, residential, hospitality and entertainment components. By using light poles as its foundation, the Intellistreets system takes advantage of the vast amount of infrastructure that already exists in cities around the world to transform urban corridors into environments that promote vitality, safety and economic development. …
Unlike other control and energy management systems, the Intellistreets system is intelligent. Not only is it possible to control or schedule functions such as lighting and audio, Intellistreets components can adapt to changes in the environment without any human intervention. If a light pole is damaged, neighboring light poles can route around the damage and continue to function. If communication throughout the system is disrupted for any reason, each light pole has the ability to continue to function independently. The Intellistreetssystem has the ability to learn over time, allowing unprecedented flexibility and automation.
The Intellistreets base system consists of the following components: lighting control, wireless communication, concealed audio and alert indication. Additional digital video signage and data acquisition components are available to further enhance functionality. …
A concealed speaker housed within the base of the light pole provides clear, high-quality, 360-degree dispersion audio without being visible. The audio capabilities of Intellistreetscan be used for many different audio applications, such as background music, paging and announcements, emergency alert information, and even sirens.
The Intellistreets system supports visible LED alert indicators that can easily be programmed for a wide range of uses. Alert indicators can be used to direct people to an exit in the case of an emergency, or could be used to indicate a faulty lamp source to maintenance personnel. Alert indicators can also be used as part of a larger security system to provide safety benefits. …
The Intellistreets system offers the ability to add digital video signage in the form of a large LED banner to a light pole, much like the vinyl banners currently seen in city environments. Unlike vinyl banners, LED banners can display a wide variety of continually changing content, including both still images and video. This opens up endless possibilities for revenue generation through advertising, as well as intuitive and localized way-finding and video-based public service announcement.
A wide range of sensors can be added to the Intellistreets system, including weather and environmental sensors, toxic gas, radiation and other atmospheric monitoring and alert systems. Footfall sensors can be added to gather and relay valuable information regarding pedestrian traffic, which can assist city planners, managers & DDA directors. All of this data can be intelligently shared between poles to enable the system to adapt and react by itself, as well as enabling advanced reporting functionality as an adjunct to Homeland Security, emergency management and municipal operations. …
An Idea Whose Time Has Come
With its enhanced energy efficiency capabilities and security benefits, Intellistreets is a natural candidate for stimulus funding, and the system’s unique municipal, educational, commercial, and even military applications are limited only by the imagination. With Intellistreets, Illuminating Concepts has re-imagined the light pole and redefined conventional notions about what is possible in the modern urban landscape.
Yes, indeed! In the name of “safety” and “homeland security,” these “intelligent” street lights will alert and protect us from all sorts of threats and hazards!
We are the Government, and we’re just here to help you! Just sign on the dotted line on this Faustian Bargain contract!
Meanwhile, the powers and capabilities of Government grow ever bigger….