Street Lights Double As Surveillance
CHARLOTTE, NC- They can entertain, save energy, and the designer says they could save your life.
But some say “Intellistreets” should really be called "spying street lights."
"If I'm out, I just wanna be out. I don't want to feel like I have eyes on me all time,” said Steven Ortiz, an Uptown Charlotte resident.
"It's a small invasion of privacy," said Brandon Chalfant, a North Charlotte resident.
These street lights double as surveillance.
They can play music, monitor conversations, direct traffic, send emergency signals, and take pictures.
"It makes me feel kinda.. that's creepy," said Shamel Ridley, an Uptown Charlotte Resident
The designer says the lights aren't some type of spook technology. But, they can detect movement and determine whether it's a person, car, or even an animal. Late at night, if there's too much movement, the light will notify police.
"If we could add digital signage and put speakers in the poles, we could talk to people to let them know what to do and what was going on and which way to go for safety," said Ron Harwood, president of Illuminating Concepts.
Harwood came up with “Intellistreets” after tragedies like 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Parts of Michigan have them and the lights are going up soon in Chicago and Phildelphia.
"A city official, city employee, or police office could ask to retrieve an image. But they have to ask to retrieve an image in the form of a picture of what was going on at that pole or two poles or at the intersection," said Harwood.
Takara Edwards of East Charlotte says that technology could have been helpful during the shooting following speed street in Uptown.
"They could probably spot potential trouble before it starts. Especially with kids... they like to go in big groups and crowds. If the police can see that before anything happens, that's a good thing," said Edwards.
While some say the lights feel too much like big brother watching, Edwards says she welcomes them in her neighborhood… "East Charlotte, where I'm at, that would probably be a good thing over there."
We talked to the deputy chief of homeland security in Charlotte.
He says if the city installed street lights with surveillance abilities... you would never know.