- A San Francisco tech executive has launched and funded a network of security cameras across the city in response to a property crime plight that has plagued the city for years, per a report in The New York Times.
- Startup founder Chris Larsen has poured $4 million into the cameras, which are monitored by neighborhood groups instead of police departments.
- Hundreds are installed on private property in plain sight within certain neighborhoods of San Francisco.
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A tech executive has poured millions into a network of 1,000 security cameras that cover 135 blocks of San Francisco.
In a report from Nellie Bowles in The New York Times, Chris Larsen, co-founder and executive chairman of cryptocurrency startup Ripple, began installing the first cameras in 2012 in his neighborhood.
The cameras are in plain sight but installed on private property with permission from homeowners, who work together to decide where the cameras should be placed. Per the report, Larsen has spent nearly $4 million for the high-definition video cameras and also backs the neighborhood coalitions that monitor and control them.
Police departments do not operate the security network. But according to the NYT, if the police want access to any of the video footage, they have to ask the appropriate neighborhood group for permission. Per the report, footage in the city’s Japantown district was once sent to the San Francisco Police Department to help track down a suspect who stole a golden retriever.
The time-stamped footage is deleted after 30 days, and the cameras do not use facial recognition, per the report. The project has the support of San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin, a progressive and advocate for defunding the police.
The Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf districts are two of the city’s neighborhoods that have joined the project.
A Bay Area native and resident, Larsen told the NYT he kicked off the project after witnessing and being personally victimized by the city’s infamous smash-and-grabbers. San Francisco has been plagued by a break-in crisis in recent years — it’s common knowledge to never leave anything in your car when parking on the street.
The conversation surrounding privacy and surveillance has been thrown into overdrive following the police killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd and the worldwide protests that have followed. According to the report, Larsen has long been a privacy advocate.
Larsen is also a co-founder of E-Loan, an online lending startup that went public in 1999.