St. Louis looks to take next technological step towards ‘smart’ sensors

ST. LOUIS - St. Louis city leaders are looking to modernize technology in the city by possibly bringing in multiple kinds of 'smart' sensors including cameras.

Officials at City Hall say the goal of the sensors would be to improve the services that are provided to citizens.

But there are some concerns about privacy issues when it comes to potentially having more cameras around the city.

The city`s Chief Technology Officer Robert Gaskill-Clemons spoke at a meeting Wednesday at City Hall with people who could wind up selling smart sensor technology to the City of St. Louis.

The City Hall meeting gave potential bidders an opportunity to learn about the potential project and ask questions.

City leaders say the sensors could help with traffic and weather information along with environmental and air quality issues.

The sensors could also be used to detect gunfire and vehicle crashes.

“Usually they`re very small devices that we would deploy on traffic lights or street lights that talk to each other and then talk to a back-end network and relay the information back that we`re looking for,” said Gaskill-Clemons.

City officials say more than 3,000 cameras could be part of the sensor program, many would be used to help fight crime.

The cameras would monitor roadways, special events, public spaces including parks, even alleys, and vacant properties.

There could also be dashboard cameras and cameras to recognize license plates.

Gaskill-Clemons explained, “We need to be paying attention to how we`re protecting the privacy of the citizens of St. Louis while also helping make sure they get the benefits from the technology that we`re deploying.”

Melissa Cowin was at the meeting.

The St. Louis company she works called Fybr for could bid for the sensors.

“This is definitely a step forward and there are cities around the world that are already implementing this stuff that is proven to reduce government spending, proven to generate higher revenues that can go into other infrastructure projects,” said Cowin.

Gaskill-Clemons says there are already some 'smart' technology elements in the city like the Real Time Crime Center.

He believes this plan can help the city take the next technological jump.

“It`s a big puzzle and we`re tackling various pieces of it at a time,” said Gaskill-Clemons.

Companies that want to bid for this project must submit their plans by February 15th.

At this point, there is no timeline for when the sensors could become a reality.

We're told 52 people attended today's City Hall meeting either in person or via a conference call.

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