RICHMOND (KPIX 5) — A neighborhood in Richmond has installed technology that just ten years ago might have been considered troubling.
Country Club Vista, a development in North Richmond, takes its security and the threat of crime seriously.
About six months ago, when sideshows began happening at the entrance to the neighborhood, the Homeowners’ Association installed its own automated license plate readers, or ALPRs, at the streets leading into the development.
“Right outside of the community here, the cars were doing doughnuts, like in the middle of the night,” said Leon Navarro, Country Club Vista homeowner.
Navarro seems to think the ALPRs made the drivers think twice.
“Once they realize that there’s license plate readers, I think people think twice before they break the law,” said Navarro.
The cameras automatically record the plate numbers and store them with time and date in a database.
It’s not uncommon for cities and police agencies to install ALPR systems, but now companies are offering them to private property owners.
This prompted the Electronic Frontier Foundation to send a letter in January to the lawmakers warning:
“Currently, nothing prohibits ALPR companies from making this data more widely available on the open market. One security breach could result in sensitive location data on millions of people being leaked online.”
The fear is that ALPR companies could share, for a fee, innocent people’s movement data with private companies that deal in things like banking, insurance and debt collection.
Tony Anderson lives right across the street from the ALPRs of Country Club Vista and never realized what they did. But he doesn’t seem overly concerned about the risk.
“If I did have some indication that it was being misused or abused, that would raise some concern. But for the benefit of safety and feeling secure in the neighborhood, I think that would override that,” said Anderson.
“Like, there’s cameras everywhere, there’s cameras in schools. So, like, being recorded is just like a normal day thing,” said Durell Willis, a 16-year old resident.
It seems these cameras are not only keeping an eye out for crime, but they’re also giving us a high-definition glimpse of the future.
The cameras at Country Club Vista send their video to a cloud server that can be accessed with a password. But the company says it only keeps data for 30 days and reportedly allows residents to “opt out” of being automatically recorded.