From guest writer, Joe Cadillic, of the MassPrivatal blog
The future of privacy in big cities is bleak—cities are now getting paid to convert street lights into spying SmartNodes. What are SmartNodes you ask? SmartNodes will soon replace street lights, because they are equipped with cameras, microphones, speakers, etc., all-in-one light pole. For example, the city of Los Angeles, California is working with Philips Lighting and ENE-HUB to turn 110,000 street lights into a one-of-a-kind citywide SmartNode surveillance network.
“The Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting and Philips Lighting have collaborated on a program that uses CityTouch connected street lighting management and connected sensors to obtain additional value from the public lighting system.”
Philips SmartPoles are equipped with ‘environmental noise monitoring’ microphones, which can be used to spy on ‘raucous neighbors and loud music’.
“The city of Los Angeles is leveraging their connected street lighting infrastructure to actively monitor and manage noise levels on the streets. Using existing connected street lights, the city has installed microphones to collect noise data at the street level.”
Where could the music be coming from you ask?
Philips doesn’t say, but you can bet they mean people, vehicles and homes. Which means, SmartPoles can listen to more than just noise.
Click here to watch Philips Lighting admit SmartPoles are great data collecting conduits. In the video, Remco Muijs boasts that Philips and the city of Los Angeles are working together to host third-party sensors that influence people’s behavior, because nothing says influencing people’s behavior, quite like 110,000 spying street lights. (There are a number of YouTube videos from Philips about their Smart Cities Initiative.)
An article on the PTC.com (PTC Technology) website reveals that private companies are paying cities $1200 yearly for each SmartPole they install.
“The streetlight-based cells will generate revenues by being leased to wireless providers. The City of Los Angeles will receive $1200 per year for each SmartPole. The installation of 100 IoT-connected streetlights is currently in process in Los Angeles. Philips and the city plan to expand the network to 600 streetlights by 2018. Philips, under a tech development pilot program, is also installing 50 SmartPoles in The City of San Jose.”
To translate that into dollar figures, if Los Angeles turns 110,000 light poles into SmartPole’s the city would make approximately $13.2 million a year.
And with that much money at stake, it won’t be long before every city in America turns their street lights into money making, spying SmartPoles.
According to the ENE-HUB’s website, here are just some of the components that the smart lights poles could provide to cities.
- RBG Beacon Light
- Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi detectors
- Two-way Help Buttons equipped with microphone and speaker
- Public Announcement speakers
- LED Street and roadway lighting
- Community messaging
- Parking management
- Data capture
- People counting
- Electric vehicle car charging
- Travel card readers
- Traditional smart pole functions (signage, traffic and lighting)
Los Angeles’ KCRW radio report also revealed that ENEHUB’s, SmartNode’s could also be equipped with ‘video streaming and gunshot sensors connected to police and fire stations’.
One can assume that in the near future, SmartNode’s will also be equipped with E-ZPass readers and license plate readers.
Unfortunately, Philips Lighting and ENE-HUB aren’t the only ones trying to turn entire cities into giant surveillance networks.
Siemens, GE, Cisco, LED lighting maker Acuity Brands and mall developer Simon Property Group are also installing spying SmartNodes across the country.
After writing numerous articles about Smart Cities, SmartPoles and SmartNodes one thing becomes crystal clear. They are all about corporate/government surveillance and making money off of the backs of citizens.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author. For additional information on smart street furniture, check out the NMA Driving Freedoms Magazine Winter 2017 edition.