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Last updated at 4:32 PM on 27th October 2011
Like something out of a sinister Orwellian vision of the future, streetlights with the ability to monitor conversations and announce government warnings are being installed on American streets.
As part of a federally-funded project, manufacturers Illuminating Concepts have begun installing the system, dubbed 'Intellistreets' in the town of Farmington Hills, Michigan.
According to the company’s video presentation the capabilities of the devices include homeland security, public safety, traffic control, advertising and video surveillance features.
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Light fantastic: The new 'intelligent' street lights are equipped with cameras, microphones, display screens and PA systems
Conspiracy theorists and freedom of information campaigners have been quick to suggest the devices amount to a plot by federal government to control communications and eavesdrop on people's lives.
Fears the lampposts are a step towards the creation of a police state were further fueled when the firm removed a promotional video from You Tube, rumoured to be a result of negative publicity about the 'Homeland Security' features.
Each street light contains a speaker system to broadcast emergency alerts, and a video display and is also equipped with proximity sensors capable of recording both pedestrian and road traffic.
The speakers can be used for public announcements as well as advertising
Communications: The street lights are linked together through underground cables and a wireless network
The speakers and sensors mean they can be programmed to blare out advertisements as people walk past.
An article on the website Infowars suggested: ‘Intellistreets is even more frightening a concept than the DHS-funded surveillance cameras that have blanketed America.
'If Intellistreets is such a cutting-edge concept that presents an array of wonderful benefits, as the promo video claims, then why remove it from You Tube?
'Now that the company has tried to hide the video, it will only generate more suspicion about the true purpose behind Intellistreets and the level of involvement on behalf of Homeland Security.
Orwellian: Conspiracy theorists believe the lamp posts amount to a Big Brother-style plot by the government to spy on citizens like in the novel 1984
'Using street lights as Minority Report-style broadcasting platforms for advertising and government propaganda also dovetails with the Obama administration’s agenda to have complete control over communications by means of the Emergency Alert System and the program to have all new cell phones display mandatory “emergency” messages from the federal government by next year.'
In Britain, Middlesbrough council introduced streetlights with speakers attached in 2006 to blast warnings at people indulging in anti-social behaviour.
Last month Mail Online revealed that talking bins, which feature celebrity voices thanking people for not dropping litter are being installed in Liverpool and London.