City informs public about ‘smart’ streetlights

SAN DIEGO -- The City of San Diego is holding a series of meetings to help the public get a better understanding of the city’s new “Smart Streetlight" program.

The city has already installed about 2,000 of the smart streetlights throughout the city, mainly in the downtown area. When completed, the program will include nearly 9,000 energy-efficient lights. About half of those will use cameras to capture whats going on around them.

"My general concern is what if someone misuses this information," said Aleena Jun Nawabi, who attended Tuesday's meeting at the North University Community Library.

The bulk of community concern has to do with privacy, but the city has made it clear the cameras do not show private property and cannot perform facial recognition or read license plates.

"There is no proactive viewing of the smart street lights. No one is sitting in a room looking at these cameras," said Lt. Jeff Jordon with the San Diego Police Department.

Police can only request video after a serious crime or collision and any video captured by the cameras is wiped out every five days. The department says it’s already used video to aid in nearly 100 investigations since last August.

City leaders say collecting traffic and pedestrian data will hopefully help with public safety but are open to the public’s ideas and comments on what the devices should or should not be used for.

The last public meeting is September 10 and then all of the public input will be taken to city council to help form a solid policy for the cameras moving forward.

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