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LEDs have their Eyes on You at Newark Airport
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LEDs have their Eyes on You at Newark Airport


More and more American cities are being installed with LED light fixtures with embedded cameras and sensors. Newark airport is the latest among the long list of areas investing in surveillance technology in combination with LEDs. The newly installed LED fixtures are connected to a wireless surveillance system to provide safety for fliers and cut down on operating costs. Around 171 LED fixtures have been installed around the airport so far.


“Using an array of sensors and eight video cameras around the terminal, the light fixtures are part of a new wireless network that collects and feeds data into software that can spot long lines, recognize license plates and even identify suspicious activity, sending alerts to the appropriate staff,” according to the report by The New York Times.


This new intelligent technology installed in LED fixtures has the ability to capture various ranges of data. Las Vagas is planning on installing a lighting system which can broadcast sound. Copenhagen has already installed streetlamps that can monitor pollution and control traffic. With LED light fixtures lowering in cost, more and more government agencies and businesses will move towards replacing current lighting fixtures with these new LEDs.


Those opposed to the LED lighting fixtures feel it is an encroachment on personal privacy.


“There are some people in the commercial space who say, ‘Oh, big data — well, let’s collect everything, keep it around forever, we’ll pay for somebody to think about security later,’ ” said Justin Brookman, who studies consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “The question is whether we want to have some sort of policy framework in place to limit that.”


According to The New York Times, there are companies in the U.S. who have begun installing these systems, referred to as intellistreets, "a flexible wireless solution for integrating energy efficient lighting, audio, digital signage and more into your city, campus or sporting venue."


There are both positive and negative attributes to this developing LED lighting technology. On the positive side, it will provide cheaper lighting options with the ability to collect data and create more adaptable infrastructures. However, they can also become intrusive surveillance devices which can be easily hacked.