Street lights haven’t changed much since they were invented at the turn of the 19th Century. Sure, gas has been swapped for electricity, and glass for plastic, but they still serve the same purpose.
That is, until now.
GE has announced it’s putting cameras, microphones and sensors on 3,200 street lights in San Diego, in a bid to harvest data about how the city works.
The corporation says that its “sensing nodes” can monitor traffic circulation, crowd sizes, parking spots, air quality, weather emergencies and even gunshots. But the move has prompted questions about privacy.
“It’s anonymous data with no personal identifiers,” a spokesperson for San Diego’s mayor told Reuters. The spokesperson said that the council had approved the lighting without discussing the privacy issues and that no objection arose during a trial that began in the city in 2014.
The technology is being installed as part of a $30 million upgrade to the city’s lighting system, which will see new LED lights slash energy costs.
“Fostering innovation and improving infrastructure are important to enhancing the lives of all San Diegans,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a statement. “This new technology will give the City and developers the opportunity to make our neighborhoods safer and smarter.”
GE, which is working with AT&T to link up the network of smart lights, said it’s expecting a big market for such systems as cities attempt to get smart.
It looks like these smart lights are here to stay, whether you like it or not.