Flock Safety, a surveillance tech startup that provides AI-powered license plate reader cameras to law enforcement and homeowner associations, raised $150 million in its series D investment round led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
The fast-growing surveillance tech startup has so far raised $230 million since it started in 2017 and already operates in 1,200 cities in 40 states. It has an ambitious plan to reduce crime in the U.S. by a quarter over the next three years “by deterring and solving cases.”
Flock Safety sells battery-powered cameras with an intentionally narrow field of view that can capture car license details from a long distance.
It then logs license plates and allows users to search for vehicles by a variety of criteria such as color, type, make, license plate, state, features on the vehicle and whether or not its license plate is covered up.
“Four years ago, we started Flock Safety with a simple mission, to eliminate crime. We knew it would take neighborhoods and businesses working together with law enforcement and city leaders if we truly were to solve this problem,” Garrett Langley, Flock Safety CEO and founder, said in a statement.
“This capital will help us accelerate product development and expand our team to support every city across the country. Together, we will reduce crime in our communities.”
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There are complaints, however, that the company’s marketing strategy targets the police, government and predominantly white communities.
Law enforcement officials are incentivized by Flock Safety with free equipment and even encourage private homeowners’ associations to install license plate reader cameras from the startup, according to a Bloomberg report.
Civil advocates say this concentration of security surveillance tools in wealthier neighborhoods could compound inequality in policing as it puts police at the beck and call of privileged residents.
“Will it surprise you to learn that this surveillance tech co, Flock Safety, deliberately built a marketing campaign targeting COPS who live in Vacaville, CA, a predominantly white NorCal town that is also home to a notorious state prison? And that the COPS pitched to HOAs?” wrote Twitter user Amy Alexander (@AmyAlex63).
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