San Francisco Public Utilities Commission reveals plans to possibly use streetlights for surveillance

Madison Ruppert, Contributor
Activist Post

In a request for participants (RFP) issued by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) for a secure wireless control and communication system for San Francisco’s future network of dimmable LED streetlights, it is revealed that the network may also be used for street surveillance, public information broadcasts, gunshot monitoring and much more.

The plans seem quite similar to other streetlight surveillance and broadcasting systems like Intellistreets which boasts behavioral recognition technology, among other features.

While these Big Brother-esque plans might seem strange or frightening to some, it really isn’t all that surprising given that surveillance equipment has already been placed on public buses in San Francisco and elsewhere (see below video for more information).


The RFP, dated June 8, 2012 and released by Public Intelligence on January 21, 2013, reveals that the “integrated wireless communication monitoring and control system” designed at first to remotely manage the city’s future network of LED streetlights, could have many more troubling applications.

While the RFP itself at first glance makes it seem as though the wireless network will be used to transmit street surveillance and other information captured by devices other than the LED streetlights, a report by Rebecca Browe of the San Francisco Bay Guardian makes it clear that the streetlights themselves will do the surveillance.

“Each light has something akin to a smartphone embedded inside of it, and the interconnected network of lights can be controlled by a central command center,” reports Browe, describing technology nearly identical to that in the Intellistreets streetlights (see above linked article for more information).

Some of the “future needs for the secure wireless transmission of data throughout the City may include,” according to the RFP, “electric vehicle charging stations data transmission, electric meter reading, gunshot monitoring, street surveillance, public information broadcasts, street parking monitoring devices, traffic monitoring, traffic signal control, pollution monitoring” and the mysterious need labeled “others.”

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