New street lights in Las Vegas are actually high tech surveillance devices that can videotape you, track you and even record your conversations. The LED lights look like normal street lights but have the capability to record video and audio.
The lights called Intellistreet are connected to a central control center via a Wi-Fi network. Officials in the control center can watch and listen to what is going on in the streets and even communicate with people on the street through loudspeakers built into the streetlight.
“This technology, you know is taking us to a place you’ll essentially be monitored from the moment you leave your home till the moment you get home,” Las Vegas resident Daphne Lee told a Las Vegas TV station. Lee is described as a civil rights advocate and she isn’t happy about the technology.
What the street lights can see and do
Intellistreet lights can do a lot. A brief rundown of the surveillance capabilities this technology gives authorities includes:
- The ability to record video and audio of everything that goes on in the street and save it via a cloud storage solution.
- The ability to give pedestrians and others on the street orders via loudspeakers.
- The ability to play music or commercials over a loud speaker system.
- The ability to page the smartphones or cellphones of people walking near the lights.
- The ability to control the system through a Virtual Command Center that can be accessed from any computer.
The lights are currently being tested in a few places around Las Vegas. It isn’t clear what the city plans to do with this technology.
Another wired city
Las Vegas isn’t the only “wired” city in the United States. Camden, New Jersey, which has suffered from severe budget cuts, is replacing many of its police with cameras and microphones. According to Info Wars, the Camden County Police are doing the best to watch everybody in the city.
Some of the surveillance efforts in Camden include:
- 120 cameras positioned throughout the city to watch everything citizens do.
- Cameras equipped with thermal imaging and other spy technology that can see through walls.
- The “Sky Patrol,” a 40-foot high tower with cameras mounted on it that can watch large areas of the city. Among other things, the Sky Patrol can see into backyards and into homes.
- Microphones that can now monitor sounds in one third of the city. The devices are supposed to be gunshot detectors but they can record conversations. The ACLU discovered that such detectors are being used to record conversations in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Gunshot detectors have been installed in at least 70 cities around the US according to the ACLU.
And it could be legal
The most frightening thing about a lot of this surveillance is that much of it appears to be legal. The problem will come if the cameras start taking pictures of what people do in their homes or on private property, Camden attorney Jeffrey Zucker told the Associated Press.
“When there’s that expectation that you are alone, and someone’s looking in a window or a fenced in backyard, that’s a real problem,” Zucker noted, “if you’re on the street or your porch that’s a different matter.”
It is not clear if evidence collected with such surveillance systems would be admissible in court. No court has ruled on whether such surveillance constitutes unreasonable search and seizure as defined by the Fourth Amendment.
“When it comes to the Fourth Amendment it is a very gray area,” attorney Kenneth D. Aita told AP.
Modern technology makes it easier than ever for Big Brother to watch you.