Jul 16, 2021 - News
Flock Safety says its car-watching cameras can reduce crime across Tampa Bay
Illustration of a smartphone camera taking a photo of a car, with a police badge for a shutter button.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Atlanta-based Flock Safety, which has a team of employees in Tampa and is hiring more, wants to reduce crime nationwide by 25% in three years.

State of play: That goal might seem extreme, but the upstart company says it typically sees a 25% drop in crime soon after partnering with a city, and it's operating in more than 1,200 nationwide.

  • "It's very rare we don't see a 20% or 30% reduction," CEO Garrett Langley told Axios.
  • The company just announced a $150 million Series D fundraise led by Andreessen Horowitz, one of the world's leading venture capital firms.
  • Worth noting: The company features positive police reviews on its website, but journalists have verified both successes and challenges.

What's happening here: It has partnerships with 50 neighborhoods and five police agencies in the Tampa Bay area, and roughly 250 neighborhoods and 30 police departments across Florida.

How it works: Flock Safety uses cellphone-camera technology to read license plates and capture traffic data. Then they give police the software to narrow and find suspect vehicles.

In other words: Its roadside cameras catalog vehicles — model, color, make and any distinguishing features, as well as the date and time they pass by.

  • If a crime is reported and the victim can describe the vehicle, police can narrow cars down in a few clicks alongside access to an owner's open warrants or criminal history.
  • The cameras also ping law enforcement when a stolen vehicle or a vehicle related to an Amber or Silver Alert crosses their path.

Yes, but: Doesn't that sound like Big Brother? Advances in surveillance tech have prompted debate about privacy, and whether trade-offs are justified in the name of public safety.

  • Langley tells us that the company's products are ethically built and the product actually reduces bias because of its focus on the vehicle, not gender or race.
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.

More Tampa Bay stories

No stories could be found

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.