Neighborhood Surveillance Startup Flock Safety Raises $9.6M

Illustration of woman on video screen.

There’s safety in numbers, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

In a traditional neighborhood watch program, everyday citizens are deputized to spot and report crime and “suspicious activity.” But even the nosiest of human neighbors need to sleep, which takes away from their time on watch.

But cameras don’t even blink.

Flock Safety aims to build a neighborhood watch based on cameras rather than watchful human eyes. And according to paperwork filed with the SEC on Wednesday afternoon, Flock has raised $9.59 million in an equity funding round financed by 20 investors.

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According to Crunchbase data, the Atlanta-based company has raised $120,000 in prior funding in a seed round led by Y Combinator which had participation from Anorak Ventures, among others.

The filing lists three board members, including cofounders Garrett Langley and Matt Feury.

The only other board member who’s not an executive at the company is Ilya Sukhar, the former head of developer products at Facebook and current general partner at Matrix Partners.

At time of writing, there is no confirmation that Matrix Partners has led the round, but Flock Safety is listed as one of Sukhar’s “current projects” on his profile on the Matrix Partners website.

What Flock Is Building

As mentioned earlier, Flock Safety is building a combined software and hardware infrastructure solution for neighborhoods, homeowners’ associations, and municipalities. Including installation, maintenance, and its services, Flock charges $1,500 per camera, per year, on a two-year contract, according to its website.

The company’s website notes the “discreet design” of its cameras, which come equipped with solar power, batteries, and an LTE chip for connectivity. Among other things, these cameras (or, more precisely, a trained algorithm) can “read license plates.” The company says its cameras are “able to capture vehicles traveling up to 55 MPH, day and night, and up to 75 ft away.” Account administrators can disable this feature, or selectively target license plates of non-residents.

Flock Safety published a case study of how its technology solution leads to results. Flock Safety helped an Atlanta neighborhood catch someone who stole a $3,000 bike. The company claims to reduce crime by 25-50% in neighborhoods using its solution.

The company also claims it takes privacy seriously, starting with data ownership. According to the company, “Your neighborhood 100% owns the data. Flock will not share, sell, or access your data. Your neighborhood determines who has access to footage. Either an HOA board member, trusted neighbor, or every neighbor—it’s your call.” Flock stores footage in the cloud so it can be accessed “from any laptop or phone.”

So whether you’re the type of person who finds comfort in knowing that everything in your neighborhood is being watched, or if you feel like you’re living in some creepy distributed digital panopticon, video surveillance is likely to become only more omnipresent in our lives. The tricky tightrope to walk, though, is ensuring that it doesn’t become oppressive.

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