Intelligent LED street lights that are capable of eavesdropping pedestrian conversation from U.S. based company Intellistreets have been installed in Las Vegas City Hall, according to a Daily Mail report. The new lights are largely funded with government aid and come with video and audio recording capacities. This has raised concerns from local residents that the “surveillance lights” could invade personal space and privacy.
Intellistreets LED street lights installed in Las Vegas City Hall. (LEDinside/ Intellistreets)
U.S. government officials have reassured public that the lights will not be used for monitoring or intelligence gathering purposes. Neil Rohleder a Public Works Department told NBC News 3 in Las Vegas that the lighting systems are not installed for surveillance purposes, but to offer a unique experience for visitors. "Right now our intention is not to have any cameras or recording device”, Public Works Director Jorge Cervantes told MyNews3. “"It's just to provide output out there, not to get any feed or video feed coming back."
Despite reassurances from government officials, the U.S. public is still rather cautious about these lights and with good reason. The public’s mistrust in the lights is not misplaced, especially with the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) recent monitoring and surveillance record. A MSN report sourly commented “What's next? The NSA Casino?” The report also raised the question as to whether the lights can be hacked since it is operated via a remote Internet-based module.
Intellistreet inventor Ron Harwood noted that the lights can be installed with surveillance cameras, but argued the lights were not as vulnerable to hacking as believed. Harwood defended the product during a talk with MSNBC in 2011, saying the encrypted lighting system would send a warning and automatically shut down if hacking activities were detected.
The lights installed are LED replacement for 250 watt Sodium fixture can save more than 50 percent of energy and comes with a digital LED banner for community message, according to the company website.