Arlington County Board approves pilot project to install smart streetlights along Wilson Blvd.

There’s no shortage of streetlights all over Northern Virginia, but what if those streetlights – could help improve emergency responses? In Arlington, officials think it can be done.

On Wednesday evening, the county board approved a pilot project to install smart streetlights along the 2900 block of Wilson Boulevard, as was previously reported by Arlington Now. The lights have sensors inside, and at first, they’ll mostly monitor crowd size and movement.

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Later, the plan is for them to also monitor things like shots being fired, or smoke coming from a building, or screaming. The information would be sent straight to the 911 center, where officials can use it to respond immediately.

"Imagine there’s a crowd and you don’t know what the crowd is doing," explained Holly Hartell with Arlington County’s Department of Technology Services. "It’s picking up a crowd movement, but you happen to know that maybe the Caps just won. So then you can correlate, well maybe this isn’t something that I need to be concerned about, or maybe there is nothing that’s happening, or maybe this is occurring at 2 am. Well that’s unusual, maybe I should send somebody out to look into what I’m hearing."

"The more information that a first responder has," she continued, "the better they’re able to respond."

The lights could be installed as early as mid-Spring, and the pilot program is expected to run a year.

The county will pay for a relatively small portion of the costs – about $13,000, according to documents. Most of the goods and services – roughly $90,000-worth – will be donated by US Ignite, the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, and Comcast.

Asked about privacy concerns, Hartell said the lights can’t take pictures or identify anyone, adding that "it’s totally anonymous."

For more information on the project, you can click here.