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City's Streetlights Illuminate With Possibilities

(Originally published on MSNBC, October 28, 2011)
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The streetlights in Farmington have been given a makeover by a former Disney designer.

Ron Harwood invented Intellistreets, which is a concept that cranks out streetlights that serve a purpose more than just illumination.

"There are a lot of storytelling things we can do with Intellistreets that the system was originally designed to do. It's just smart enough to do a lot of other stuff," Harwood said.

The streetlights are computer-operated and equipped with video screens, which can display anything from traffic to police alerts. They stream live video of any activity that is in the surrounding area.

Too invasive?

"I find that when I have to go to the airport and I have to take most of my clothes off and walk through a scanner, that's far more invasive than anything Intellistreets does," Harwood said.

Harwood said the system is encrypted to prevent hacking. But, Harwood said, if that ever happened, the systems sends a warning and shuts down.

The new streetlights are funded through a federal energy department grant. They line west 10 Mile Road east of Orchard Lake Road.

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