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100+ newly installed Smart Streetlight cameras assisting San Diego police investigations

Smart Streetlight camera in San Diego 2-23-24
Posted at 3:38 PM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 18:38:32-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Police Department has begun installing and using Smart Streetlight cameras and Automated License Plate Recognition technologies, and they have already assisted in solving crimes.

"Having our Smart Streetlight and ALPR technology is already making our city safer, with examples just in the first two months of operating that show their ability to help police locate and apprehend dangerous suspects more efficiently and with greater certainty," Mayor Todd Gloria said. "With the level of transparency and accountability for the use of the technologies we have in place, we're enhancing San Diegans' safety while protecting their right to privacy."

SDPD's five-year agreement with Ubicquia Inc. and Flock Safety's ALPR technology, included the installation and maintenance of an initial 500 locations citywide. Since late December, more than 100 of the 500 cameras have been installed, with new installations occurring almost daily, according to SDPD's Ashley Nicholes.

"The San Diego Police Department already produces clearance rates for solving crimes above the national average," SDPD Chief David Nisleit said. "Instead of casting a large net based on sometimes vague descriptions, the Smart Streetlight cameras and ALPR system now allow officers to be laser- focused on who committed the crime. This investment is precision, intelligence- led policing at its finest and will deliver results."

The cameras and ALPR can only operate in conjunction with an LED streetlight. If an LED streetlight is already in place, the technology can be easily connected to the streetlight without modification. If a designated location is not LED-equipped, SDPD works with the city's Transportation Department to replace it with an LED light, Nicholes said.

Installation of all 500 cameras is anticipated by June, weather and other infrastructure issues permitting.

"We're honored to partner with the City of San Diego and Ubicquia on this groundbreaking deployment of public safety technology," said Garrett Langley, CEO and Founder of Flock Safety. "Every city is different, but all need public safety solutions that align with the character and citizens of their community. This new method of positioning LPR and video security technology through the UbiHub streetlight technology shows that Flock Safety is committed to constant innovation to serve every community."

Once the cameras are installed, SDPD's Special Projects and Legislative Affairs Unit individually reviews each camera's viewpoint to digitally mask private property, so it is not recorded by the cameras before they are fully operational, Nicholes said. SDPD is working to provide training opportunities to officers and investigators to ensure they understand the responsibilities of access to the system.

Safeguards for the system include:

  • Officers and investigators must take the required training before access is granted;
  • A case or event number is listed when searching the system;
  • The SPLA Unit is constantly auditing the system to ensure compliance;
  • Video captured by the streetlight cameras is deleted after 13 days, and ALPR data is deleted after 30 days;
  • Streetlight camera video and ALPR data are only maintained if they are being used in an investigation;
  • The hotlist ability for officers or investigators to enter license plates suspected of or associated with a crime can only be entered by members of the SPLA Unit and only remain on the hotlist for 72 hours;
  • SDPD has taken steps to better inform the public about the new technologies, including publishing use policies and other related materials in accordance with the Transparent and Responsible Use of Surveillance Technology Ordinance to its technology website; creating a searchable map of locations of the streetlight and ALPR cameras; and collaborating with Flock Safety to create a "transparency portal" on the ALPR data being collected.

Since early January, Smart Streetlight and ALPR information has assisted SDPD officers and investigators with more than 22 homicide, robbery, burglary, assault and stolen vehicle investigations, Nicholes said. Twelve stolen vehicles have been recovered, with 11 suspects in custody from these investigations.
SDPD has accessed critical information using the Smart Streetlight and Flock ALPR system to assist with four homicides, Nicholes said.

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