Reader’s Rant: Will New “Smart” Led Street Lights on Newport Ave in Ocean Beach Write You a Parking Ticket?

by on February 24, 2017 · 8 comments

in Culture, Economy, Energy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Not Amused in OB

Are “smart” led street lights coming to Ocean Beach to surveil you and write you a parking ticket? I heard Newport Avenue is slated to get new led lights.

The evening news on Channel 10 covered this, and it appears that our mayor, Kevin Faulconer , just rolled out on Wednesday a program of installing new street lights in San Diego and Ocean Beach. The mayor announced he’s expanding this program of putting in “smart sensors” which will be able to “gather and disseminate data on things like traffic, parking availability, public safety and air quality.”

And Kevin said that his city has partnered with a company from back east called Current which will install 3200 of these “Smartlight Sensors”, powered by GE.

Let me repeat part of the article – some strange claims that the smart lights –

“gather and disseminate data on things like traffic, parking availability, public safety and air quality. The sensors will send all the data up into a cloud, where it will be free and accessible for app developers to use….

The nodes can use real-time anonymous sensor data to direct drivers to open parking spaces, help first-responders during emergencies, track carbon emissions, and identify intersections that can be improved for pedestrians and cyclists.”

A little digging … shows Jacksonville Florida also with this technology, and how it works:

GE Spotlights New Smart Street Lamps

“What really separates these lights from the run-of-the-mill light bulb is the pack of sensors that GE provides with each one. These could be weather sensors or a video camera that can see traffic, parking violations and so forth.

As an example, the video sensor generates visual data to apply to any application, Rue said. You could count cars to plan transportation or use video for public safety purposes.”

Wonderful. And the cost savings in electricity pays for them in 5 years, supposedly.

But it turns out Jacksonville has already ditched the program, so that means San Diego is flying solo. And the smart lights cost wayyyyy more than simple LEDs would’ve.

Luckily San Diego is flush with cash, right?

Here’s a local report from Jacksonville press on it all:

“The test pilot showed some of the positive benefits of the intelligent system: police were able to catch two-to-three more parking violations per space per month and gained an extra $2,400 in citation revenue…

The pilot program was at no cost to the taxpayer, but to make the intelligent LED conversion it would cost $50.1 million. In comparison, a standard LED conversion would cost just $1.4 million. Still, the Intelligent Cities solution saw a 400 percent increase in surveillance and a 347 percent increase in gunshot detection. To install those features could cause a 5 percent reduction in crime and a 10 percent reduction in homicides.”

Despite the potential benefit, it seems the city will not continue with the data-collecting LEDS.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Judi February 24, 2017 at 12:30 pm

I bet Orwell is rubbing his hands and shouting with glee. Big brother is watching!


triggerfinger February 24, 2017 at 7:03 pm

It almost seems like a salesman walked up to Faulconer’s doorstep and this is the result. I’d like to be the first to develop an app for these. I’d call it STOP WASTING OUR TAX DOLLARS ON STUPID SHIT WE DON’T WANT AND CAN’T AFFORD.

The LED lights were presented as a way to save money… but nope.


Michael Russell February 24, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Perhaps we could put these in Downtown San Diego, to track the people at SEMPRA and the Banks, to see what they are up to? If we could put them in the offices of every politician and lawyer, we could stop the abuse and corruption of our government by Developers and Corporations. And we need these in Rancho Bernardo to watch the White Collar Crime, too.


Rufus February 25, 2017 at 7:30 am

Never underestimate a politician’s attraction to flashy objects because those flashy objects are purchased with Other People’s Money!

Being a downtown worker, I had to laugh at CivicSanDiego’s push for a real time parking availability application. The only problem? That would require that every single on street parking stall, garage, and parking lot have sensors in every single space which would report availability to the application. Who would pay for that?? You guessed it.

And I have to chuckle when I visit USD. Their parking garage has an overhead system to indicate which parking stalls are occupied (red light) or open (green light). What happened to our eyeballs? And I have to wonder what that system cost the students??

Have we become so fascinated with meaningless and expensive toys!

City council, how about investing in your citizen’s quality of life first? I find it hard to believe that we’re installing “smart” street lights when there are homeless and drug addicted citizens who need a hand up.


eric March 1, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Right on! Rufus


PL Local February 25, 2017 at 9:14 am

I just hope they are able to monitor the Air Traffic Noise


OB Dude February 25, 2017 at 11:38 am

PL….now that would be a wise feature…but something tells me that’s NOT going to happen!


MTW February 28, 2017 at 11:04 am

Great read! I would just like to add that as a rule of thumb, you need 10 watt LED to replace 60 watt incandescent bulb. I think total of 8-10 watt LEDs would be optimal to illuminate a small kitchen for example.


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