Morning Report: Shedding Light on Police Access to 'Smart' Streetlights - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Shedding Light on Police Access to 'Smart' Streetlights

Streetlight cameras in downtown San Diego / Photo by Megan Wood

Government employees and other stakeholders from across the globe are set to meet in San Diego this week to talk “smart cities” and how data captured in public rights of way might improve the urban landscape.

San Diego’s own experience with one such program offers a good example of what not to do.

When the San Diego City Council approved a smart streetlight program in 2016, it was sold to the public as a tool to analyze traffic patterns. In reality, it’s become a tool for law enforcement.

Yet police access to the cameras never came up in the public discussion of the program, and as VOSD’s Jesse Marx reports, two members of the City Council now say they had no idea police could access the footage.

“We could have done a better job of communicating the change to the public and to the policymakers here,” said Erik Caldwell, the city’s deputy chief operating officer. “Hindsight being 20/20, you could always do things better.”

Now, more than two years after the program was OK’d, police officials are writing guidelines outlining how they should be allowed to access footage captured by the cameras.

That means SDPD, not city officials, is setting the terms for how the department should police itself as it accesses data from the streetlights — and it’s doing so long after the technology actually went into the field.

For Once, the Mayor Gets His Way on the Convention Center

San Diegans will finally vote on a hotel-tax hike to fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road repairs next March.

The City Council voted 5-4 on Monday to place the tax measure on the presidential primary ballot in March 2020. (The Council has to vote on the move again, so technically it could still change its mind.) Supporters of the move argued it could more quickly pull in cash to address the city’s homeless crisis – and that a March election wouldn’t conflict with a 2016 proposition that sought to move ballot measures to the November ballot.

City Council Democrats Georgette Gómez and Jen Campbell joined with Council Republicans in favor of the March 2020 election despite pushback from Measure L supporters who said failing to place the hotel-tax hike on the November 2020 ballot would that ignore voters’ intent in 2016.

Backers of Measure L, led by Alliance San Diego, rallied against moving the measure to the March ballot, including by purchasing ads on social media sites.

Those arguments were persuasive for most City Council Democrats despite speeches from labor leaders, homeless advocates and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who is running for mayor.

Many advocates hinted – some more directly than others – that a March hotel-tax vote would pave the way for two November 2020 tax measures to bankroll affordable housing and transit projects.

Diseases Don’t Stop at the Border

U.S. officials are on alert after several patients crossed the border to receive surgery at a Tijuana hospital and wound up with bacterial infections.

To date, there have been dozens of linked cases in 16 different states. But infections and disease crossing the border is nothing new.

In the latest Border Report, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan explains how medical experts are taking on cross-border collaboration to improve infection control.

In Other News

I Could Fall in Love … With This SDSU Course

Selena Quintanilla Perez would have been 48 years old today.

The slain singer lives on, though, and will now be the subject of an SDSU course titled “Selena and Latinx Media Representation,” according to a release from SDSU.

The course will explore “the socio-cultural mediated representations of intersectional Latinx identities by analyzing the music, career and influence of Selena. The course also accentuates her influence on Latinx media, media personalities, audience reception and niche marketing,” the release says.

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood, Lisa Halverstadt and Sara Libby.

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