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Intellistreets: Big Brother or Big Idea?

On October 26, after being told that a couple of bloggers were negatively reacting to our Intellistreets video, we noticed that the video essentially linked to a very outdated website, so we pulled the video to give us some time to update it. We are a small, but successful Detroit-area lighting design and multi-media firm with clients around the world, but did not anticipate the immediate attention this would garner. We are updating the website to be accurate to today's Intellistreets features. We will re-post the video - unchanged - along with the updated website by end of day today.

We are extremely proud of our American-designed and American-made Intellistreets and its potential. To paraphrase a line from our neighbor Chrysler across town: "It's what we do - and it's made right here in the Detroit area."

Those crying foul over our Intellistreets lighting, security and information system seem to have two consistent qualities: they know little if nothing about the overwhelming merits of our potentially life-saving technology; and, everything they ever learned they learned from the "Big Brother" movies.

What the Intellistreets system is designed to do is simply make our streets safer, more energy efficient and smarter, while being informative and entertaining.

The first and most obvious benefit is energy conservation, through intelligent dimmable lights that react to the dynamic lighting environment. Cities and towns can reduce their electricity costs for lighting by 75 percent compared to conventional systems - a huge advantage in these economically challenged times. This is why the Department of Energy (not the DHS) funded hundreds of municipalities with "grant" money to begin the process of saving energy. Our test site benefitted from this kind of small equipment grant and our firm funded the entire installation cost.

In its fullest form, Intellistreets also includes the collection and reporting of information immediately and completely so that first responders (police, fire and EMS) can react very quickly in moments of danger for an individual or an entire community; and, in other cases, pedestrian and vehicular traffic can be safely routed away from danger in an orderly manner.

That's why we proudly reached out to the Department of Homeland Security to share our technology. DHS needs American entrepreneurs to develop the technologies that can better keep our citizens safe. Importantly, DHS is intrigued by Intellistreets' potential. They see the tremendous opportunity to add a level of safety and security into our public environments utilizing infrastructure that already exists. To date, no funding from the DHS has been either offered or accepted by us.

Consider the following real-world scenarios (yes, we are Monday-Morning-Quarterbacking):

Earthquake in Berkeley, California: Instead of a siren going off, through Intellistreets more localized voice messages could have relayed the real information needed to know about the quake and any action needed to be taken. Everywhere in the country, we are lucky to even get a siren and then luckier of we understand what that means!

Hurricane Katrina: Instead of no warning system other than TV and Radio - through Intellistreets citizens that were outdoors and not connected to some media device could have been told what to do and where to go. After the storm, relief efforts could have been facilitated by having much more information about where people were stranded and those in more desperate need. A disaster relief Intellistreets system is in design right now, where even under heavy site and energy system damage, the system can be used to assist first responders.

September 11, 2001: Instead of panic in the streets and traffic backed up blocking first responders, Intellistreets would have been an aid in almost all forms of information and announcements.

While focusing on one optional aspect of the technology makes for sensational storytelling, the more complete and accurate picture of Intellistreets is an invigorated urban environment, like a streetscape, shopping center, or entertainment venue, with the sights and sounds that energize pedestrians and make them feel safer and more informed at the same time.

As we have showcased the potential of Intellistreets, we have had the philosophical support of nearly every person with which we've had discussions, including business people, utility leaders, municipal officials and local and national politicians. They, like us, want and need to protect not only our country, but our families and friends.

But Intellistreets is very much a case of private enterprise, working in the private sector, with private dollars, to help solve the security, energy and financial challenges facing our cities and citizens. That is why the lion's share of the resources have been invested by our company, Illuminating Concepts - an American company headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, providing an American solution to American challenges, while designing and manufacturing that high-tech solution right here in America.

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