Spies on the corner - Page 4

San Franciscans are in the dark about the city's plans for surveillance streetlights

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GUARDIAN ILLUSTRATION BY DANNY HELLMAN

Tienken and Sheehan downplayed the RFP's reference to "street surveillance" as a potential use of the wireless LED systems, and stressed that the pilot projects are only being used to study a narrow list of features. "The PUC's interest is in creating an infrastructure that can be used by multiple agencies or entities ... having a single system rather than have each department install its own system," Tienken said. The SFPUC is getting the word out about the next batch of pilots by reaching out to police precinct captains and asking them to announce it in their newsletters, since "streetlighting is a public safety issue," as Tienken put it.

Haselmeyer acknowledged that public input in such a program is important: "It's very important to do these pilot projects, because it allows those community voices to be heard. In the end, the city has to say, look — is it really worth all of this, or do we just want to turn our lights on and off?"

LIGHTS, BUT NO SUNSHINE

One company that is particularly interested in San Francisco pilot is IntelliStreets, a Michigan firm that specializes in smart streetlights. IntelliStreets CEO Ron Harwood told the Guardian that his company was a contender for the pilot through LLGA; he even traveled to Rio and delivered a panel talk on urban lighting systems alongside Hale and a representative from Oracle.

A quick Google search for IntelliStreets shows that the company has attracted the attention of activists who are worried that these lighting products represent a kind of spy tool, and a spooky public monitoring system that would strip citizens of their right to privacy and bolster law enforcement activities.

"It's not a listening device," Harwood told the Guardian, when asked about speakers that would let operators communicate with pedestrians, and vice-versa. "So you can forget about the Fourth Amendment" issues.

Harwood seemed less concerned about the activists who've decried his product as a modern day manifestation of Big Brother, and more worried about why his company was not chosen to provide wireless LED streetlights in San Francisco. After being passed over in the LLGA process, Harwood said IntelliStreets responded to the RFP issued in the weeks following the Rio summit. Once again, Harwood's firm didn't make the cut.

Since his company provides very similar services to those described in the RFP, Harwood said he was "confused" by the outcome of the selection process. IntelliStreets' Chief Administration Officer Michael Tardif was more direct. "Clearly we think this was an inside deal," Tardif told the Guardian. Tienken, for her part, declined to discuss why San Francisco had rejected IntelliStreets' application.

And when a public records request was submitted to the agency last August for details on San Francisco's participation in LLGA, the response was opaque at best. "After a duly diligent search we find that there are no documents responsive to your request," an SFPUC public records coordinator responded via email. "The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is not a participant, nor is involved with Living Labs Global Award. Please know that we take our obligations under the Sunshine Ordinance very seriously." That was just an honest mistake, Sheehan tells the Guardian now by way of explanation. In the public records division, "Clearly, nobody had any familiarity with LLGA."

Comments

The NY Times, oddly, has reported the current wireless "smart" parking meters put in by the SFPark people "has been bedeviled by electromagnetic interference from overhead trolley lines." It's baffling how these were approved without some sort of EMF testing. I imagine these could run into the same problems. I also imagine they'll be as litigious as SF's stop light camera program, too.

Posted by Werther deGoethe on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

little fear for law-abiding citizens. If you have a car with OnStar, a clipper card, a credit card, a cell phone or a laptop, chances are the authorities can always figure out where you are.

Problem?

Posted by anon on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

Can we have reliable continent-wide rapid transit and public sector health care finance as well because it is fairly standard in Europe, that should hold little fear for law-abiding oil, auto, insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical companies?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

more comfortable with a diversity of outcomes.

Posted by anon on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

Libertarians in red states and counties are much more comfortable being subsidized by progressives in blue states and counties is what you're trying to say, and they've allied with corporations and religious wingnuts to screw the coasts and great lakes states and the Democrat party elites have joined in as well.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 2:49 pm
Posted by anon on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

falsely accuse and convict, or violate the civil or constitutional rights of innocent people, would they?

http://www.innocenceproject.org/

Another reason not to have a cell phone.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

Imagine the hilarity surrounding the newfound uses for the mental health databases to be used for "gun control."

Posted by marcos on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

Let me guess: no car, TV or ipod either.

How about vegan too, just to fill out the royal flush of hopelessness?

Posted by anon on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

No ipod, still prefer vinyl. The landline works fine. Two computers for a two person household.

Vegan, not freegan, but I have certain exceptions, like "all wedding cake is vegan," so not obsessively strict.

I have no idea what these lifestyle choices have to do with hopelessness. Do you equate personal property or spending money with happiness?

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

as all TV transmissions are now digital?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

over-the-air transmissions, so no.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 16, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

This is off-topic.

Eddie, I'm a vegetarian (I eat eggs and rennet-free cheddar cheeses). Do you eat a vegan cheese you like and would recommend? I've looked at some and I think they all had carrageenan in them, which is controversial. It seems that carrageenan is in most things. Just thought I'd ask you. Gracias.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

I've not found any good vegan cheese.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

I worry about it every day.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

Snapples: No need for you to worry about it. Eat as much of it as you can.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

I had some Daiya last night at a friend's house and it was good. Escape From New York uses it on their vegan pizza and it works for us, just a little step down from real mozzarella.

I don't know the ingredients, though.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

Concern troll,

You are a corporatized mindless sheeple. You are the problem but will likely never understand that because that's not something the sheeple have the ability to do. That's why they're called sheeple.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

What willful-ignorance! You would live most comfortably in a full-blown dictatorship while standing behind a "law-abiding citizen" shield, which the "authorities" would kick in.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

Those not aware of On-The-Media, will find these comments by Daniel Solove, law professor at George Washington University, disturbing or comforting depending on your sheeple index:

http://www.onthemedia.org/2013/jan/04/if-youve-got-nothing-hide-youve-go...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2013 @ 10:43 am

Those not aware of On-The-Media, will find these comments by Daniel Solove, law professor at George Washington University, disturbing or comforting depending on your sheeple index:

http://www.onthemedia.org/2013/jan/04/if-youve-got-nothing-hide-youve-go...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2013 @ 10:51 am

They recently installed a camera at the corner of 3rd and Evans. Big Brother is now watching you!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2013 @ 10:12 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2013 @ 7:21 am

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