A little smarter than your average streetlight.

Johann H. AddicksA little smarter than your average streetlight.

It’s not just a streetlight. It’s a streetlight that fights crime.

No, it does not also eat donuts or dress up like a man-sized bat. Don’t be silly. It’s still a streetlight, but it doesn’t just sit there all the time, being on, wasting money and causing light pollution. That kind of streetlight is so 2010. The 2o13 streetlight, which is now being installed in Chattanooga, Tenn., can reduce crime and increase park usage by shedding light on unsavory goings-on.

Instead of driving away crime by installing more or brighter lights, police officers can brighten these networked LED lights from inside their cars — turning up the light on suspicious activity, or illuminating the path of a fleeing suspect. Chattanooga is safe from light pollution, money is saved, and crime is fought. You don’t need to be a streetlight expert to call that a win-win.

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You might, however, be a little concerned about police controlling the streetlights. Because even though this thing sounds kind of cool, if you were also getting that itchy George Orwell kind of feeling, well, they are considering kitting the things out with video cameras. Of course.

Still, a light system like this is handy for a lot of other things besides crime fighting. Like lighting people’s way during evacuations. Or after natural disasters. It’s the old progress vs. civil liberties question. And it won’t be answered today. But in the meantime if we are ever in Chattanooga, we can go to the park and play frisbee, because there are no drug dealers in it. And that’s good. Or that’s sad. Oh well.

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