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“Dead trees all over the city”
Where tree-planting efforts go wrong
Funding for tree planting is a necessary waste of tax payers hard earned money – WHY?
Firstly, no one discusses the years of Aerosol spraying and how toxic the soils are along with heavy metals, EVERYWHERE.
TREES AND PLANTS CAN NO LONGER SURVIVE IN THE INTENTIONALLY CREATED POISONOUS ENVIRONMENT
NO ONE WILL TELL YOU PLANTS AND ALL LIVING THINGS ARE BEING EXTERMINATED.
PLANT MATERIAL HELPS TO BLOCK 5G’s Deadly frequencies and the frequencies of neighborhood acoustic weapons when we are targeted in our communities and homes.
From coast to coast, cities are working toward tree-planting goals, and the White House is all in, announcing in April $1 billion in grants for communities to increase “equitable” access to trees and green spaces.
Government GRANT funding for tree planting is only disbursed within a specific time table and cities are desperately trying to get trees in the ground because the grant cycle which typicially ends in a year.
Your city wants to prove they are interested in taking your money and proving they want trees they are not able to maintain.
NOW cities, counties, states tell us we MUST REDUCE OUR OUTSIDE WATERING and some areas folks are fined and penalized if they water any outside landscaping.
DOUBLE SPEAK – a WORLD OF DOUBLE SPEAK.
GRANTS FOR TREE PLANTING is a necessary waste to keep an illusion of planting trees while killing plant life at the same time.
Geoengineering aka Chemtrail fallout, contaminated soil, Toxins added in many commercial foods and fertilizers, and high intensity EMF from ground transmitters similar in function to the old HAARP, and the use of cell phone systems.
Some trees resonate with the EMF frequencies and die quickly, others like some evergreens are more resistant to EMF damage. Low voltage is often generated in the ground as eddy currents (when emf hits the ground and creates a second current that goes up the tree from the ground) form the EMF and this can retard growth or kill trees too.
We learned that the heavy metals from the aerosol spraying aka Geoengineering/Chemical Trails are taken up into the trees through the root system. The tree roots clog similar to how plaque clogs human arteries and the trees are unable to absorb water which is blocked by the heavy metals. ALL trees have been compromised. Millions are standing dead in forest waiting to be sparked by fire causing weapons.
We are told all the dead and dying trees are due
to Climate Change while Weather Weapons remain Unacknowledged.
OUR TREES ARE INTENTIONALLY DYING
OUR OXYGEN COMES FROM TREES AND PLANTS
TREE planting sounds Nobel and environmentalists
believe tree planting efforts will benefit communities and restore the sheer cutting of forests and in the Amazon, along with being a carbon sink to reduce CARBON which is OUR OXYGEN.
Sadly, most folks are unaware of the real intentions behind all these wasted efforts.
“Dead trees all over the city”: Where tree-planting efforts go wrong
As federal funds flow toward urban forestry, collaboration with residents and appropriate technical expertise can lead to more tree-planting success, one researcher says.
Nature has emerged as a key partner for cities looking to advance environmental justice and prepare for and mitigate worsening climate change. From coast to coast, cities are working toward tree-planting goals, and the White House is all in, announcing in April $1 billion in grants for communities to increase equitable access to trees and green spaces.
While the funding presents a “tremendous opportunity,” achieving this goal is not as simple as planting as many trees as possible in underserved communities, said Lincoln Larson, an associate professor at North Carolina State University.
How communities can successfully develop and execute equitable tree-planting plans is the focus of Larson’s research, which is supported by the U.S. Forest Service.
Permission granted by NCSU College of Natural Resources
Smart Cities Dive caught up with Larson to discuss the potential worst outcome of tree-planting efforts, whether trees are inherently valuable to society and why communities in most need of trees may not welcome more.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
SMART CITIES DIVE: What opportunities and risks do communities face, with all the recent attention allocated to trees?
LINCOLN LARSON: While we’re pretty good at identifying where trees need to be planted, actually working with communities to get that done in a way that resonates with community members and aligns with their goals, preferences, concerns, all of the above becomes a lot more challenging, especially when you realize that you can’t just put a tree in the ground. You have to nurture it, you have to care for it and maintain it.
The worst outcome — which is what we see in a lot of cities with tree-planting programs that don’t have resources and community buy-in to sustain themselves — [is] you end up with dead trees all over the city. That’s a worse outcome than no trees for a lot of people.
And those dead trees are due to a lack of maintenance?
Yeah. Sometimes, when you’re planting trees, especially in narrow right-of-ways or on private property, it’s hard to maintain them, with watering and tree pests. We see that nationally, with a lot of invasive [insect] species coming in and threatening urban tree species. If you don’t have a support team, with the technical expertise and the resources to support tree growth over the long term, you can run into challenges.
How can tree-planting programs avoid those unwanted outcomes?
A lot of tree-planting professionals and NGOs that focus on tree equity operate with the assumption that everybody views trees as this inherent good for society. But the reality is that many members of the public don’t.
In a lot of communities, for a variety of reasons, trees are seen as a problem. They’re a maintenance issue. They create opportunities for perceived crime in densely forested settings. Sometimes trees fuel property [value] rises and [higher] property taxes, which is a good thing, but it also can catalyze green gentrification, which drives residents out of neighborhoods where they might have been for generations.
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Are there common pitfalls of tree-planting programs when it comes to developing an equitable urban forest?
The obvious one is don’t plant trees without public input and community involvement. Yet we do it so often. I think that happens a lot, too, when we’re desperately trying to get trees in the ground because the grant cycle ends in a year, or whatever the motivation may be. It’s often easier to just plant on public property. In a lot of cases, that may work. In others, it may be that if you want to increase canopy coverage in underserved neighborhoods, you have to find a way to do it on private property because there may not be a lot of public green spaces that exist in these areas where it’s ripe for the planting, if you will.
That dichotomy presents challenges, especially in a lot of these areas where you have predominantly renters with absentee landlords who may or may not allow this. Suddenly you have a strange dynamic again about who has access to trees. Do you have to be a homeowner to get trees?
What do you recommend?
The solution to a lot of these problems is understanding that there are local community organizations and nonprofits embedded in those spaces already who are really engaged in social justice, environmental justice issues, and know what the community needs and is looking for.
Work with these organizations [and] don’t think that your same practice that worked elsewhere is going to work in this place. Take a little bit of time to get to know the place, the key players, and work within their system and the organizations that are based there to make things happen. Yes, it takes time, but that is time well spent, if your goal is a healthy urban forest.
- Google’s free tree canopy tool now covers hundreds more cities. Here’s how early adopters are using it. By Ysabelle Kempe • April 13, 2023
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Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs has abandoned another US smart city project after reported fights about transparency
Feb 24, 2021, 3:41 AM
- Yet another smart city project launched by Google-backed Sidewalk Labs has been scrapped.
- Officials in Portland, Oregon said it had ended its relationship with Sidewalk spin-off firm Replica.
- The move follows failures to get another project off the ground in Toronto.
Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google, has ditched another smart city plan after reported disputes over data sharing with officials.
In 2019, Sidewalk Labs partnered with officials in Portland, Oregon, on a plan to track how people move around the city. Less than two years later, disagreements over transparency have brought the project to a halt. RedTailMedia first broke the news.
Sidewalk Labs used its Replica software to map how people move through the city, and planned to use this data to help officials make planning decisions that would increase mobility, reduce congestion, and improve residents’ quality of life.
Replica was later spun out as a separate company, which took on the project full-time.
RedTailMedia reported that there had been constant disagreements between senior figures on either side of the project, with Portland raising questions over the accuracy and transparency of Replica’s data and eventually nixing the project.
Are you a current or former Googler with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email (email@example.com). Reach out using a non-work device.
A spokesperson for the company told the BBC that Portland officials were “frustrated” by its refusal to share subjects’ personal data.
“At Replica, we believe better insights should not come at the cost of personal privacy,” they said. “We were not willing to compromise on our privacy principles, which frustrated our Portland Metro client and ultimately led to an early end to the project.”
The decision comes less than a year after Sidewalk Labs abandoned an ambitious $900 million for a high-tech neighborhood in Toronto, citing economic “uncertainties.”
Around the same time, Protocol reported that Kansas City officials found a trial of Replica’s software useful but “didn’t have enough staff ‘to take advantage of all of its capabilities.'”
A spokesperson for Portland Metro, the city agency in charge of the latest project to be scrapped, told the BBC: “After review of the draft data, Metro ended its relationship with Replica. Metro did not pay Replica for any services.”
They added: “We wish Sidewalk Labs the best with its future work.”
Insider approached Replica and Portland City Council for further comment.
- U.S. drivers experience a collective 17.25 million hours of delays per day at intersections with poorly timed traffic signals, according to a new study from transportation analytics company INRIX.
- The analysis of 210,000 intersections found that nearly 7% of delays experienced during a trip are at poorly timed traffic signals, and those delays result in increased carbon emissions, often concentrated at intersections. Those delays are most often found in densely populated cities like New York and Los Angeles, with the latter home to more than 1.7 million hours of delay for drivers each day, INRIX said.
- If better coordinated timings increased travel speeds by 10%, INRIX said, that could cut emissions by at least 5% and reduce up to 80,000 gallons of gasoline wasted each year across the 25 U.S. intersections with the worst delays. INRIX said new technology like vehicle-to-everything (V2X) infrastructure could help keep people moving more smoothly.
Cities have seen vehicle congestion reduced amid the coronavirus pandemic, but have also seen speeds increase at sometimes dangerous levels. And with a reduction in people traveling or commuting during remote work and stay-at-home orders, emissions have also been driven down.
With the transportation sector responsible for a large amount of urban emissions, INRIX transportation analyst Bob Pishue said taking the time to re-time traffic signals and prevent emissions build-up from engines idling at red lights could be a small way to further improve air quality in addition to the larger actions cities are taking.
“[Cities are] all looking at carbon emissions, as priority No. 1, or in the top few priorities that they have,” Pishue said. “This was one thing that really stands out. It’s not necessarily the top of people’s lists, like shutting down coal plants or something like that. But this is obviously a source of emissions. That should be looked at to try to minimize carbon emissions at these intersections.”
Pishue said a city’s signal re-timing efforts must be holistic and data-driven, and there has already been some success. INRIX partnered with Austin, TX on monitoring its major thoroughfares and re-timing signals, and the city has seen travel times reduced as much as 25% in some places. But that re-timing needs to be done at a “regular cadence,” Pishue said.
In addition to re-timing signals, INRIX said cities should look to take advantage of the fact that their infrastructure is becoming more digitized and reliant on technology. That includes the increased installation of V2X infrastructure at intersections so that signals are better able to sense traffic and help it move through, and the use of technology to manage curb space and avoid congestion there too. In a recent report, Transportation for America called for cities to take the lead on curb management and not leave it only to private companies.
Pishue said with all the competing demands on city infrastructure, making use of technological advances can help ease delays at curbside, and at intersections.
“Anytime you’re dealing with a grid or a transportation network, having all of these things connected and talking to each other is absolutely vital,” he said. “That’s the role I see it playing, and this is one part of the digitizing of a downtown grid or a city’s transportation network.”
ADVISORYCities After Covid More Tech, Health and Open Spaces
This is Sustainable Development on Warp Speed
Using Covid as the Platform
This is NOT a Test Demand for a 15-minute Life Style
We ARE Being FORCED and “Transformed” by our OverLords
Posted on StopTheCrime.net
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London Development to Test Demand for 15-Minute Cities After Covid-19
Related Cos. leads $6 billion development to transform 180 acres into a walkable urban neighborhood
By Ruth Bloomfield
Dec. 22, 2020 8:00 am ET
The hot new trend for European development is neighborhoods where everything a resident needs is within a short walk. Now, a prominent U.S. developer is building one of London’s largest versions of this type of megaproject.
Related Companies is leading a development costing £5 billion, equivalent to $6.7 billion, to transform 180 acres into what it calls a model urban neighborhood, where residents would be able to work, rest and play all within a 15-minute stroll from their front doors.
Work began earlier this year on Brent Cross Town, a joint venture between Related and the U.K. developer Argent. The first of 6,700 homes are slated to be ready in 2024. A new train station with service to central London taking just 12 minutes should be completed in 2022.
But Brent Cross residents might not choose to travel to the city center that often. The project would include 3 million square feet of office space and about 50 acres of parks and playing fields. Plans also call for stores, restaurants, a movie theater and three schools.
Taken together, they represent what Europeans call a 15-minute city.
None of the six key sectors expected to lead climate change mitigation — power, buildings, industry, transportation, forests and agriculture — are making fast enough progress to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a joint report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) and ClimateWorks.
The report analyzed 21 indicators across the six sectors to find that current climate efforts are too slow to drive a 50% cut in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. In the transportation sector, for example, the report said greater adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will depend on governments to promote behavioral change among consumers. Shifting people away from cars and onto public transit will need incentives for that behavior change, the report said, with policy likely to lead the way.
Overall, WRI and ClimateWorks found that increasing the share of renewable energy used in electricity generation must be accelerated five times faster; coal must be phased out for electricity generation five times faster; and the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) must happen 22 times faster than the rate of adoption in recent years. These requirements were calculated using historical data on the rate of change, and specific targets for 2030 and 2050.
“Two areas where the world is doing especially poor is halting deforestation and curbing emissions from agricultural production,” the report reads, though the measures of increasing crop yields and maintaining consumption of ruminant meat are both on track to reach 2030 targets.
Indeed, EV adoption has accelerated in recent years as cities embrace the technology and the need to invest in charging infrastructure, but it remains to be seen if consumer habits can change, especially to ease range anxiety. The American Lung Association (ALA) earlier this year found a “widespread shift” to EVs could bring immense economic and health benefits, although making up-front investments in charging infrastructure and the vehicles themselves could still be tricky.
The report called for greater climate financing across public, private and philanthropic sectors, and for governments and businesses to support more significant emissions reduction policies. But the cost to carry out “rapid transformation” could be steep, the report warns. It estimates that efforts to transform just the energy industry through more robust renewables portfolios will cost between $1.6 trillion and $3.8 trillion annually through 2050, meaning climate financing efforts need to step up.
“Most finance has been focused on renewable energy, EVs: the more charismatic things,” said report co-author Katie Lebling. “But [climate] adaptation has received, I think, around 5% of total climate finance. So it needs to be a lot more focused on that.”
Worldwide, richer countries should do more financially to help poorer countries reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the effects of climate change, she said.
In a bid to try and raise additional funds at the local level for climate action, a number of governments in the United States have turned to ballot initiatives, especially as local budgets have been decimated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Beyond that, some have suggested turning to public-private partnerships (P3s) and other alternative funding mechanisms in areas like energy efficiency.
And there is some evidence that local governments are looking to invest in some less visible, but still important, ways to mitigate climate change. New York City voted recently to strengthen the building requirements for its Climate Mobilization Act, in an acknowledgement of the impact that sector has on emissions.
It will take all levels of government and the business sector to step up and take action, the report says. After President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris accord in 2017, cities and states have stepped up with their own policies to cut emissions in lieu of federal leadership. But while goals have been set, Lebling said everyone can do a better job at transparently keeping track of progress.
“There’s so many commitments that have been made,” Lebling said. “But it doesn’t mean that there’s actually been action that’s been taken on the ground. So making the commitments but then actually following up to report on the progress transparently, and show that something is actually happening to back up, is important.”
REEF Technology raises $700M to support the 15-minute city
- Mobility, logistics and neighborhood hub operator REEF Technology announced Tuesday it has raised $700 million to help deliver its vision of a 15-minute city. The growth equity round was led by Mubadala Capital, with Softbank and others. The remaining $300 million was raised under a partnership with Oaktree called The Neighborhood Property Group to acquire real estate assets.
- The infusion of capital will help the company expand its network of more than 4,500 parking lots and garages, 100 neighborhood kitchens, fulfillment hubs and health care centers, according to the official announcement. The funding will also help the company build on its existing technology and create more “Neighborhood Hubs,” which connect people to local goods and services.
- REEF Technology will also use the money for a pilot program to allocate $10,000 marketing grants and support for up to 100 local, underrepresented, and women-owned restaurants to grow their business on its Neighborhood Kitchens platform. The solution helps restaurants expand delivery service under a revenue sharing partnership, with the kitchens helping handle costs, operations and food preparation.
Discover insights on where the markets for storage, rooftop solar, electric vehicles, and other clean energy resources are headed over the short and long-term.
The 15-minute city design concept, a place where people can access everything they need within a 15-minute radius of their homes, has seen strong enthusiasm from some private and public-sector leaders during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “As we have witnessed during the pandemic, proximity to the consumer is increasingly important in today’s economy,” Managing Partner of Softbank Investment Advisers Ervin Tu said in a statement.
The design concept has taken hold in Minneapolis, with leaders saying transit should be no more than a five-minute walk away. And the Coalition for Urban Transitions, in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and C40 Cities, made the 15-minute city a goal as part of an active transportation plan that includes more available multimodal options.
A 15-minute city also places a large emphasis on having a strong and resilient community network, something REEF has made strides towards. Earlier this year, the company kicked off its Barrier initiative in New York City to provide sanitization and personal protective equipment (PPE) bundles to drivers, with officials noting the effort is key to helping communities get back on their feet after the pandemic. At the time, a REEF spokesperson said such investments are key to move away from vehicle ownership while at the same time ensuring other modes are safe for use in the 15-minute city.
“What COVID has done is it has accelerated some trends that we were seeing in the mobility space,” the spokesperson said in a previous interview. “We believe we’ll continue to see the rise of car-sharing, ride-sharing and micromobility, ultimately moving towards a future that is shared, autonomous and electric. That is focused and centered around the idea of a 15-minute neighborhood, where everything that you do in your life is within a 15-minute bike or walk of where you live.”
In addition to the pandemic, experts have said the 15-minute city could be a way to incorporate racial equity into urban life, especially after this year’s protests against systemic racism. The design principle can be used for a comprehensive look at available amenities like open space, retail, healthcare, housing and internet availability to provide services in a more equitable and accessible way, Gensler’s Principal in Cities and Urban Design Andre Brumfield said.
REEF shares a similar view. The new funding and the opportunities it allows can help cities “become more sustainable and inclusive centers of community and opportunity,” CEO Ari Ojalvo said in a statement.
The NEXT PUMP and DUMP ECONOMY is BEING SETUP – NOW
NEW WORLD ORDER PROMOTOR – Kaiser Family Foundation – McKinsey and Company – Holberton
Tulsa to be the Newest Tech Hub
Virtual Health, Energy Technology, Drones, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and So Much MORE
The Enemy WITHIN is Offering JOBS in the Wake of a Jobless Covid Economy
GKFF will pay a portion of monthly payment as long as YOU stay in Tulsa
Tulsa Innovation Labs Looking to Create the Nation’s Most Inclusive Tech Community – July 30, 2020
Staci Aaenson-Fletcher, a Tulsan previously working as an accountant, recently took a career turn. “I was working in an accounting job with a large corporation — great benefits and culture,” she says, but there was a catch. “With the work experience I had, I was pretty capped in my salary. I was going to have to be a traveling regional manager,” Aaenson-Fletcher says, if she wanted to earn more. “But I want to stay local and be with my family.”
Instead, in January of this year, Aaenson-Fletcher joined the first cohort of students from the newly opened Tulsa campus of the Holberton School, a San Francisco-based software engineering academy. The Tulsa campus is one part of the Tulsa Innovation Labs, an initiative that has set out to make Tulsa not only the nation’s newest tech hub, but its most inclusive as well.
The lab is an initiative of the Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation, which seeks to end intergenerational poverty in its city. By working with McKinsey & Company to analyze the areas of opportunity in the city, the initiative identified five focus areas that will anchor its efforts: virtual health, energy technology, and drones, as well as cybersecurity and data analytics.
“We landed on these five in particular because they scored highly in terms of impact, feasibility, and inclusivity. Together they represent an interconnected set of opportunities to transform Tulsa into a tech hub,” says Nicholas Lalla, the co-founder and managing director of Tulsa Innovation Labs.
The George Kaiser Family Foundation is investing $50 million in Tulsa Innovation Labs to create local growth in these specific areas and take a diversity-focused approach along the way.
One way the lab has set out to spark this growth is through its partnership with Holberton. Once the school reaches its intended scale, the plan is for a diverse crop of 500 software students to graduate from it each year. Aaenson-Fletcher’s inaugural cohort is a group of 25 people between the ages of 19 and 55, with backgrounds ranging from welders and customer representatives to rock climbers and musicians. Half of the group are women or people of color.
“Having diverse backgrounds and experiences in the workplace makes for better business decisions, more responsive products, and a more inclusive ecosystem,” Libby Wuller, executive director of Holberton School in Tulsa, said in a press release.
To help foster that diverse workforce, Holberton offers a living assistance program so students can afford to go to school full time and also pay their bills. Holberton also offers a deferred tuition model, meaning that graduates don’t have to pay for the program until they graduate and earn at least $40,000, at which point they’ll start making monthly payments to the school. The intention of these programs is “to create pathways to the software engineering profession regardless of an individual’s circumstances,” Wuller added.
The George Kaiser Family Foundation is currently offering assistance with tuition repayment, as well. “If I get a job after graduation, GKFF will pay a portion of that monthly payment as long as I stay in Tulsa,” says Aaenson-Fletcher.
In terms of inclusivity, “it’s obviously the right thing to do and it’s mission-aligned to GKFF,” says Lalla. “Especially during the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we recognize that not all Tulsa neighborhoods have had access to the same opportunities. We’ve built inclusivity in through research and analytics. We prioritized looking at what share of jobs are accessible with associate degrees or certifications and built that in to land on our top five [focus areas.]”
Clay Holk, the senior policy advisor for small business, entrepreneurship and economic innovation for the City of Tulsa, sees Tulsa Innovation Labs as being a big piece of the economic diversification puzzle the city is trying to piece together.
“We’ve had an interesting experience here, not just with COVID but longer-term declines in energy prices given how much of our local economy is tied to the oil and gas industry,” he says. “Tulsa has been through a lot of booms and busts. When we’re building out these [tech] ecosystems, the idea is that some things are booming while others are busting, but altogether we’re continually rising.”
Holk is already impressed with Tulsa Innovation Labs simply for their sharing of the results of the McKinsey analysis — a source of subject matter information that is “hard to replicate [in] the public sector” — but he realizes that the city has to be accountable to all of its nearly 400,000 residents.
“Something we have to think about a lot actually
the distributional consequences of taking part in something like this,” he says. “We have to be thinking about the second and third order effects… You can look at housing prices in [larger] cities and see those second and third order effects,” while adding that those problems are a long way off for Tulsa at the moment.
Right now, he sees opportunities for the city’s low cost of living as a draw for the remote workforce that has grown in the wake of COVID-19. “People can be wherever they want to be and that’s a very interesting opportunity for us.”
Amid swirling controversies surrounding San Diego’s Smart Streetlights program, including its use to surveil protestors marching against systemic racism, new laws being debated in the city would more strictly govern the use of surveillance technology.
One ordinance sponsored by City Councilmember Monica Montgomery would set policies governing the current and future use of surveillance technology and set parameters for how it can be used. It also creates requirements on oversight, auditing and reporting. Another would establish a nine-member Privacy Advisory Commission (PAC), which would create a use policy for the San Diego City Council to consider and adopt, and would also need to be informed whenever the city is about to partner on a new type of surveillance technology.
The legislation comes as many cities face a reckoning over policing methods, funding and the culture of surveillance, with calls to “defund the police” upending some cities’ budgeting processes. While some police departments have worked to try and assuage residents’ fears about the use of technology in law enforcement, it has prompted legislative action in cities including New York, where the city council voted in June to force the New York Police Department (NYPD) to be more transparent about the tech it is using.
The two ordinances unanimously passed the San Diego City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee and the Rules Committee, setting up a vote before the full council in September.
“The impact will be at the very least that we’ll have oversight and certain uses will not be allowed,” Montgomery said in an interview. “I think it’ll make people feel safer, I think it’ll build more trust with law enforcement in using these the right way.”
Controversy has dogged San Diego’s Smart Streetlights program, powered by CityIQ, for some time. Montgomery said elected officials started hearing “rumblings” in 2018 and 2019 that the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) had started using the cameras primarily as a crime-solving method, rather than for the original purposes of optimizing parking and traffic and tracking air quality. Earlier this year, there was a dust-up in city council as Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed paying for the program through the city’s community parking district budgets, but saw that proposal rejected.
Objections came as the SDPD wrote the policies for how its officers would use the surveillance footage collected on the smart streetlights. “[There] was no oversight, there were no parameters given to the department and they had their own internal policies. That’s when this stuff started to rise to the surface,” Montgomery said. City officials did not respond to requests for comment on the program, which was the subject of a lawsuit late last year over its data collection and use.
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The city’s Smart Streetlights program has been the subject of some change in recent months, as smart streetlight company Ubicquia acquired all CityIQ assets in May, including the program in San Diego. Ubicquia declined to comment on the legislation through a spokesperson.
The program raised the hackles of various community organizations, which objected to the streetlights’ use by law enforcement and wanted to see some changes to the program. That helped prompt the formation of the Transparent and Responsible Use of Surveillance Technology San Diego (TRUST SD) Coalition, which collaborated on the legislation and has run public education and advocacy campaigns on the technology.
Genevieve Jones-Wright, the TRUST SD Coalition’s facilitator, said given the public interest in surveillance technology and the desire to see policing methods change, this legislation and the new PAC are steps in the right direction.
“When we started doing those community education forums, we were worried a little bit that maybe it would be a little too highbrow for some folks and they wouldn’t care, as it’s not that sexy,” Jones-Wright said in an interview. “But people were really pouring into these forums … So many people were interested in this, and a lot of people were extremely concerned and appalled. I think when we have this open discussion, we are going to see more civic participation.”
Lilly Irani, an associate professor at the University of California-San Diego who is involved with the TRUST SD Coalition, published a report earlier this year that said the Smart Streetlights program has merely resulted in “broken promises on civic innovation.”
“Instead, the city is left with a surveillance system that pervasively records video in public thoroughfares and near homes, workplaces, and places of worship — and the city, not citizens, access and use the data,” Irani wrote.
Montgomery said while there is a recognition that technology can play a role in helping keep people safe in what she called a “technological world,” its use must be governed properly to prevent over-surveillance, especially of communities that have traditionally been targets of such practices.
“We use technology quite a bit, we’re very dependent on it,” Montgomery said. “And the police department and law enforcement can use some of these things in their crime-solving methods. But overwhelmingly, people believe there should be very consistent oversight, because folks are really concerned about technology and surveillance creeping into their lives, and their privacy and civil liberties being violated through this technology.”