“Smart” cameras installed in Midlands neighborhoods, records vehicles’ license plates

Cameras are installed on 8 to 14 ft. poles. Flock Safety photos used with permission.

There’s a new type of security camera that’s been installed in Lexington and Columbia neighborhoods, and it’s designed to take preventative action to eliminate crime. Flock Safety has created a “smart” camera, that is wireless and solar-powered. The product specializes in capturing license plate numbers of cars going in and out of neighborhoods. Flock Safety is an Atlanta-based company that began selling the cameras about 18 months ago.

According to Flock Safety’s Head of Marketing and Communications Josh Thomas, a license plate number is the piece of evidence police need most for a potential incident in a residential area.  He said police departments in Atlanta reported to have crime reduced between 25-50 percent in neighborhoods under Flock surveillance. “It tends to deter criminal activity,” he said. “Our mission as a company is to eliminate all nonviolent crime in the community, and to prevent it from ever happening.” Signs are located at the front of neighborhood entrances letting drivers know it is being monitored by Flock Safety.

Thomas said the cameras cost about $1,500 per year, and are installed and updated by their employees. They are intended for neighborhood entrances, exits, and thoroughfares.

The technology behind the camera allows it to capture and log license plate numbers into its data. “We write the software behind it, so we can recognize the images,” Thomas said. “You don’t have to scroll through hours of footage.”  The images can be found through a quick search by typing in a category, like “truck” or “white car.”

One of the main concerns Thomas addressed was privacy. He stressed that the information retrieved through the camera is only accessible by the administrator (usually a Homeowner’s Association President). “All the footage is 100 percent owned by the neighborhoods. We don’t share it or sell it, or access it at all, unless they ask for assistance in helping them find an image.” The footage also deletes automatically after 30 days, according to Thomas.

Residents who live in the neighborhood but don’t like the idea of having their own license plate recorded, can also choose to have their information eliminated. “If a resident were to be concerned, they can actually opt out of the footage altogether. They can sign up to have their license plate removed.”

Currently, Flock Safety has cameras installed in 20 states. South Carolina cities with Flock cameras include Fort Mill, Greenville, and now recently Lexington and Columbia have been added to the list. Thomas said the names of the neighborhoods will not be revealed, for privacy purposes. To learn more about Flock Safety’s cameras, and to get one installed in your neighborhood, visit HERE.

Categories: Columbia, Crime, Lexington, Lexington County, Richland County