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How Flock Safety Eliminates Neighborhood Crime While Protecting Resident Privacy

Learn how we store the data your Flock Safety security system collects. (Hint: We don't.)

By Janice Ng


One of the questions we’ve heard over and over again when speaking with neighborhoods across the country is, “I’ve only seen Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR) in businesses and on busy streets. I’ve heard that those companies keep data for long periods of time and use it to monitor their customers. Does this mean you’ll be watching our neighborhood and monitoring who comes in and out? What do you do with that information?”

We've talked about privacy in the past, but we feel so strongly about this subject, we wanted to make sure we address it again.   

Across the US, 83% of property crimes go unsolved. When we heard this statistic, we knew we needed to do something, so we spoke to police. The number one request we heard from police is that they needed more actionable evidence. Since over 70% of these crimes occur with a vehicle, Flock Safety is focused on capturing evidence police can act upon to keep communities safe — vehicle footage.

While our technology’s focus is to capture what police need in the field, our company’s focus is to keep residents safe, and part of that mission is to respect resident privacy. From the beginning, our CEO and Co-Founder Garrett Langley had a vision to eliminate neighborhood crime, starting in his own neighborhood. Garrett wanted a system that could help police track down burglars and criminals but didn’t like how other existing security systems stored data. Today, Flock Safety is the only security system that lowers neighborhood crime while keeping privacy at the forefront of each system update we push.

Here’s how we do this.

Securely stored data, which automatically deletes

Here’s the data each Flock Safety device captures:

  • Vehicles with license plates, paper plates, or no plates at all
  • The color and type of a vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle etc.)
  • Objects (pedestrians, bicycles, animals)
  • Timestamps and location of captured footage

Flock Safety does not watch your neighborhood. Rather, our device is a safety system that captures footage and data that can be shared with police in the event a crime occurs.

When a Flock Safety system first captures footage, the data is temporarily stored on the device until it is uploaded to our cloud provider, Amazon Web Services. After this, the data is removed from the local device.

Once on the cloud, all data is stored with AES256 bit encryption, a standard encryption system used by both the Federal Government and the National Security Agency, among other institutions and agencies, to keep data secure.

This data is only stored on the cloud for 30 days, after which all data will be wiped from the cloud.

You Maintain Access to Your Own Data

Users 100% own the data a Flock Safety ALPR captures. Flock Safety doesn’t share, sell, or access your data. In the event of a crime, our team will most certainly help in reviewing footage to give to law enforcement, but will only do so if requested by the user.

Users also determine who within their community has access to footage. In neighborhoods, we’ve seen anything from strict access by certain HOA board members only, to open access for the whole neighborhood. We recommend discussing in depth with your community to determine how you’ll work together to access your data.

Once access rights have been set, neighborhoods can always add or remove access, and even provide individuals with temporary access to footage in the event of a crime. 

We Put Privacy Features in Place to Protect You

While Flock Safety does not monitor who comes in and out of neighborhoods, our system does track time stamps of footage captured. In speaking with neighborhoods, we learned that residents want to be safe, but don’t necessarily want neighbors with footage access to know exactly what time they come and leave.

That’s why our system has a Resident SafeList feature, which allows Flock to only record license plates of non-residents. If registered on our SafeList, footage of residents’ license plates will be marked as “resident,” and residents can even opt to have their vehicle removed from footage.

Transparency and Communication

As a crime-solving company, we believe transparency and communication help law enforcement solve crime and keep communities and cities safer. We wouldn’t be true to our values and to our users if we weren’t always transparent with you as well. In the event that changes occur to our privacy policy, we’ll always let you know.

In the same way, we strongly encourage neighborhoods with HOAs to communicate openly with their residents about Flock Safety security system placement within their communities and how we handle resident data.

When neighborhoods work together with law enforcement in providing evidence, crime gets solved. And when neighbors work together with each other, strong bonds are formed and a community is built that will make sure crime stays away.

For more information on our privacy policy, click here. 

Originally published: 2019-03-11 20:31:51