Wyoming town welcomes AI-powered centralized surveillance system

These AI-based cameras, dubbed 'Falcon' by Flock Safety, are capable of sending immediate alerts to law enforcement agencies.

Wyoming town welcomes AI-powered centralized surveillance system
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Another US state enters the era of AI-enhanced mass surveillance, with Jackson, Wyoming, green-lighting the installation of 30 solar-powered license plate recognition (LPR) cameras. Managed by the private company Flock Safety, this centralized system marks Wyoming's first foray into AI-boosted surveillance infrastructure.

Despite endorsing the move, some council members, like Jonathan Schechter, voiced their concerns about the potential downsides. “I’m screaming ‘stop’ as I vote ‘yes’,” said Schechter, reflecting his apprehension about the growing trend towards pervasive surveillance, the Daily Wire reported.

These AI-based cameras, dubbed "Falcon" by Flock Safety, are capable of sending immediate alerts to law enforcement agencies. The company offers an array of surveillance tools, each named after bird species: Raven, an audio device for detecting crime sounds; Wing, a system for combing through vast volumes of footage for specific vehicle identifiers; and Condor, offering a live feed with zooming capabilities. This suite of products forms Flock Safety's mass surveillance system, known as "TALON."

TALON has stirred controversy due to its eerie resemblance to surveillance systems portrayed in popular TV dramas like "Person of Interest" and "Black Mirror." Flock Safety insists, however, that their technology only captures and retains data on license plates and vehicles, not individuals, in compliance with state and local laws.

The AI system's "convoy analysis" feature, which identifies the proximity and travel patterns of vehicles, has drawn criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who labeled the technology "Orwellian." Moreover, the system allows law enforcement to access a suspect’s vehicle history and unique features like bumper stickers and decals across state lines.

Flock Safety cameras are present in over 2,000 cities across 43 states. Private individuals and homeowners associations (HOAs) can also purchase the cameras and opt to share their footage with law enforcement. These camera owners can also set up alerts for specific license plates, which are automatically cross-referenced with state police watchlists and the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

Flock Safety's CEO and co-founder, Garrett Langley, suggests the technology could potentially aid immigration authorities. He emphasized, though, that the use of the technology would be up to the customers. Langley, who was inspired to create Flock Safety due to personal experiences of property crime, successfully raised around $380 million in capital for the company, bringing its valuation to approximately $3.5 billion.

As the first town in Wyoming to adopt this system, Jackson's move adds to the growing debate around the ethics and implications of AI-enhanced mass surveillance.

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