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“Our ultimate goal is not to solve crime, it’s to eradicate it.” – Garrett Langley
That mission sounds like something from Minority Report, but it’s the mission Garrett Langley has set for his latest business venture, Flock Safety.
Flock Safety is Garrett‘s third company and one that is working to provide advanced security services to police departments and homeowners associations in over 30 states. Unlike other security systems, Flock Safety’s cameras can “see” and save license plate information, and then use that data to perform targeted searches during specific timeframes, helping to solve more local crimes.
Before starting the company, Garrett noticed that law enforcement was having a hard time solving (and preventing) crimes due to lack of evidence suffering. There are over 7 million property crimes a year with the average neighborhood experiencing a crime every 2 months. Flock Safety goes after petty, non-violent crimes in an effort to reduce bigger and more violent crimes down the road.
As Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, has said, “Start with the basic stuff, the bad stuff just starts to go away too.”
At Flock Safety, Garrett is thinking about crime prevention on a community level and not just on an individual level. “Its a two pronged approach,” as Garrett says. The company gathers data points from their cameras throughout neighborhoods and scan license plates and other pieces of evidence in real time so that crimes can be solved as soon as possible.
The company is two years old but has already started to see progress in the neighborhoods they operate in. For example, one neighborhood reported to see a 34% reduction in crime since using Flock Safety.
Privacy is a big focus for Flock Safety, which only holds onto customer’s data for 30 days and allows individuals to opt out of camera use and data collection. Garrett is fully aware that cameras and surveillance are on the rise throughout the world and he believes “it’s our obligation as a business to make it hard to misuse the system.”
“The question for me is not ‘Should we have cameras?’ the question is ‘How will they be used? Who will own the data? What are the retention policies around that? And we believe that the best way to do it is to have a private- public partnership.”
In this episode, Chad and Garrett discuss the future of crime prevention and eradication, how to balance privacy with security in the age of surveillance, and how Flock Safety is making progress on both fronts.
Quotes from Garrett:
[On Flock Safety storing customer data for only 30 days] “The government will be too slow to move so we as businesses should start the process of drawing the line in the sand.”
[On the ethical obligation of companies to protect their customer’s privacy] “Especially early on since we are so young, this is the chance we have to define who we are as a company and what we care about, and at our core, it’s our customers’ privacy. I think that the technology we have developed is an inevitable technology and we have an opportunity to implement it in a way that draws an appropriate line of safety and privacy.”
[On starting Flock Safety] “I’m pretty market agnostic. For all of the companies I’ve started, it all roots back to ‘is there an acute enough pain point that people will talk about it?’ On the crime side, I don’t know anyone that likes crime. Why is it that our governments and our neighborhoods are using such antiquated technology? For us, we kind of had a dozen ideas on the table for what to do next. We brought them all to market at some stage but there was something that just clicked. We made our first arrest within 60 days with the [Flock Safety] beta version. So for me, if you can drive back to the pain point that you can solve that is so powerful that people will talk about it, then there is probably a business there.”