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City to install thousands of streetlights with sensors

SAN DIEGO -- The City of San Diego is letting people know about its plan to install more than 4,200 so-called smart lights throughout the city.

They may look like regular streetlights, but if you look closer, you'll notice small antennas, sensors and camera lenses. The devices are equipped with energy-saving technology to observe weather conditions, traffic patterns and pedestrian traffic. All of this information is gathered and sent to city engineers and planners.

"Sensors that we’re putting up help us better understand how people move through urban environment, giving us real-time information about traffic counts and how people are moving so we can better provide services," said City Deputy Chief Operations Officer Erik Caldwell.

Caldwell says the sensors will also be a valuable tool for police.

"It's going to give us the ability to look at traffic accidents and ... move back the clock to really understand what really happened here," Caldwell said. "If there's a crime in the community the police department can access the street nodes and actually see what happened."

The city has already installed 2,000 of the lights, mostly in the downtown area. It has also begun staging community meetings around town to explain the capabilities and restrictions associated with the lights, insisting they will not be a "big brother type of thing."

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