Startup Flock Declares Itself "The New Standard For Neighborhood Security"

By: Brian Karas, Published on Dec 15, 2017

Mega startup generator YCombinator has backed a startup targeting neighborhood video surveillance and security.

Flock Safety is taking a technology traditionally limited to "professional" solutions, License Plate Recognition, and creating a consumer-oriented service offering marketed to neighborhoods and HOA's that want to track vehicles.

IPVM spoke with Flock's co-founder and CEO, Garrett Langley [link no longer available], about Flock's custom-built solar-powered LPR camera, and their go to market strategy, bypassing the traditional integrator channel with the LPR solution.

Flock ****** ******* ********

***** *** **** ** the*********** ****** *********** *****. *********** ** a ****-***** ******* *********/******* capital ***** ***** ********* such ** ******, *******, and ****** **** **** started. *****'* *** **** not **** ******** ******** experience, *** ** *** co-founded ********* **********, ********* a startup **** ** *** Enterprises *** $*** ******* in ****.

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*** ******* *** ****** a ******* ****** ** outside ******* (**** **** $500,000) *** ******* ~* half ***** ****** ** its ****** ** *******, GA.

Flock ******* ********

****** *** ******* *** developed ***** *** ****** platform (******** *****), *** actual ******* ** * security-as-a-service ********, ***** *** company ***** **** ************ homeowners ** **** ** design *** ****** * series ** ******* ** capture *** ******* ****** of ******* ****** ********, with ********** ********* ** choke ****** ** ************ entrances/exits. *** ****** ** designed ** **** ** easy *** *********, ** appointed ***** ********/******** ********* heads, ** **** ******* plates **** ******** **** may **** **** ******** in **********, ******, *********/********, or ******* ******.

*****'* ******* ******** ************ of *******, ********** ** ensure **** *** ***********, and *** ****** ** hands-on ******* ******** ** keep **** ***********. ****** or ******* ******* *** also ******** *** **** as **** ** *** service. *** ******* **** not ***** *** ****** ** offer, ********** ** ***** retrieval ********, ******* **** component ** *** ********* to ******.

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Flock ****** *****

************* ***** *** ******, *** **** ********* ***** own *** ********** **** run ****** *** ******, ****** that ** ******** ****** accuracy ******* ***** ******* and ***********. **** ****** is ***** ******* *** uses * ******** *** modem *** ************* **** Flock's *****-***** *******. *** cameras **** ******* ******* for ***** *********, *** video ** ********* ****** in *****'* *****.

Target *********

*** ******* ** ********* neighborhoods *** **** **** do *** ******* **** guards ** ***** *** can ****** ** ****** a ******* ********. ***** the ******* *** **** some ****** ** ************* to ********** *********, ******* garages ** **************, *** example, *****'* *** **** they ****** ** **** focused ** *** ************ customer ***-****, ** ***** until *** ******** *** service *** **** ******* and **** **** ******* significant ***** ** **** space. **** ** *** in **** ** ***** frugal ******* ********, ********** the **** *** ***** investments ** ***** * massive ***** *** ************ team, *** ******* **** more ****** *** ***********.

Channel *****

*** ***** ***** ** B2C ********, **** ***** selling ******** ** *** end-users ** *** *******, and ******** ** *********** for ************ ** ******* as *********, *** ****** under *** ***** ****/*****. Part ** *** ****** for **** ******** ** due ** *****'* ************ in *** ******** ******** and *** ***** ***** aware ** *** *********** integrator ***** ******* ************* have **** **** ******** commercial *********, *** **** in **** ** *** success **** **** **** from ********* **** **** and ****, *** **** build ********** ******-**-**** ******* models. *******, **** *** Ring ** *** **** the ************ *** ******* service/support * *** ********* of ***** ******** ** Flock ****.

Current ***********

***** ****** **** **** a ****** ** ***********, primarily ** *** ************ Atlanta ****, **** * limited ****** ** *********** in *********** ******. **** are ********* ******** ********* on *** ******* ******, as **** ** *** most ********* *** *** them ** ****** *** installation/support ******* ** ***** offering ** ********* ***** employees. **** *** ********* targeting ***** **** *** a ********, ** ** least ******* ****, ****** of ***** *******.

*******

******* ****** *** ***** in *** ******* ** being *******, ********* ** the ***, ** *** company ******** **** ******** on ******* **** * price-per-home *****, * *****-***-*********-**** model, ***-***** *****, ** various ************. ***** **** also ***** *** *** could *** (** ***** not) **** **** ***** guidance, *** **** **** Flock ** *** ****** the ***** ** ******* significant ******** ***** ** subsidize ******, **** ********** expensive ******-***** *******, ***** panels, *** *** **** connectivity, **** **-**** ************ and ******* ******** ***** that *****'* ******* **** fully *********** **** ****** make ***** ******** ******* thousand ******* *** **** for **** * ***** neighborhood **********.

Outlook *** *****

***** ** ********** ** build *** **** * custom ******, *** * cloud *******, *** **** an ********** ******** (******* through ****** ********* ** contractors). ************ ***** *** difficult ********** ** ****** successfully. ********* **** ******** makes ** **** **** challenging, ************ **** ******* executives **** ******** ******** experience. ** *** **** time, *****'* **** ** security ******** ********** ***** them *** ********* *********, and *** ***-**-*** ******** lets **** ****** ******* the ******* ***** *******, service ********, *** ******** satisfaction. ** ******* ***** will ****** **** * large ********** ***** ** build *** * ******** sales *** ************ *****, or ***** ** ******* their ******** ********* ******* established ******** *********** ** service ********* **** ******* and *******.

************ ******** *** **** tend ** ** *****, price ********* ******* *** video ************ ** ** will ** *********** ** see *** ***** ****.

Comments (23)

Believe neighborhood video surveillance is one of the missing pieces for Nextdoor (back by some big VCs).   

 

Looks promising for HOA's.

I can't imagine the cute camera will be technically effective at capturing license plates around clock. 

Yeah, I see the company doing a proof of concept in some markets and then selling to a massive property management company or Comcast "Security". 

This vaporware does not seem to be the least bit interested in capturing actual humans doing actual harm. Say a vehicle is seen entering or leaving.  So what?  Very circumstantial.  No direct evidence.

Very circumstantial. No direct evidence.

Owner reports attempted burglary at 2:30AM, which picture (both time stamped ~2:30AM) would you rather have:

or

 

"Say a vehicle is seen entering or leaving. So what? Very circumstantial. No direct evidence."

Capturing a license plate that is not from a vehicle from a resident of the community is not direct evidence that the driver of the vehicle that has it's license plate captured committed a crime - but it can assist LE when investigating.  i.e. why was your plate captured in a residential neighborhood (where a crime occurred) that you don't live in?

why was your plate captured in a residential neighborhood (where a crime occurred) that you don't live in?

 

I have a hundred reasons that would fly:

1)  I made a wrong turn and got lost in this residential area and was trying to find a way out.

2)  I had a wrong address for a Craigslist Free Stuff pick up

3)  I couldn't sleep and was just driving around checking out different neighborhoods.

4)  I was on my way to a party but I think they gave me the wrong address

5)  I'm looking for a new house and just cruising different neighborhoods to see what's available. (daytime excuse)

6)  I was looking for a yard sale. (daytime excuse)

 

Must I go on?  Aside from the fact that you could have any # of reasons for being in a neighborhood you don't live in, its not a crime to drive down a street so unless they have witnesses who saw the driver of that license plate vehicle doing a crime, just having the license plate is useless.  Now if you have the picture of both the person committing the crime (home video) AND a bunch of license plates, it might help PD to narrow down their search to find out who the person was but they'll have to go through all those license plate records to match up the picture on file with the video and I don't see ANY local PD taking that much time on a simple home burglary.

Meghan,

I will first point out that you are assuming that an investigator would tell you that they already know your plate was scanned in the vicinity of the crime - before asking you where you were at that certain time on that certain day - allowing you to use any of your 6 choices.

Except that aint how it works is it?

If an investigator already knows that your plate was scanned in the vicinity of the crime, they aren't going to approach you by telling you that up front.

Instead, they are going to use that information against you - if they can.

They are going to ask where you were on such and such a date and time.  i.e. letting you state facts (without giving you any information first) that can be proven - or disproven.

each of your alibi examples - once offered - are potentially provable, or disprovable.

You discount the value of LPR scans because they are not irrefutable evidence of anything other than your vehicle was somewhere at a certain time.

While I agree with you that LPR scans of a plate prove nothing by themselves, I maintain that the ability to develop suspects that would otherwise be unavailable to investigators is a positive benefit of LPR in the scenario described.  

If I'm a bad guy and an investigator asks me where I was on a certain day and time - since I already know I committed a crime, I'm still gonna use one of my excuses OR, I'm simply going to say I don't remember.  But lets not beleaguer that .... I think we said the same thing - I said "it might help PD to narrow down their search to find out who the person was".  So I'm not saying LPR is bad and I agree that it might help investigations but only if the crime in question is really going to have a high enough priority to PD to warrant the time it will take them to go through all the licenses and then interviews of all those people and I don't believe most crimes that HOA's are grappling with are high enough priority.  In fact, I have personal experience (2x) with burglary and I can assure you it was NOT high on the "investigate this one" list for my local PD either time.  

 If the crime is a murder I can see them dedicating that time but most HOA's are dealing with theft and vandalism issues not murders.  

A more effective and affordable solution might be:

The HOA & an integrator could put together a package deal wherein they offer a small camera system at an affordable cost to the homeowners (the HOA helps market that idea) and the HOA will invest in signage throughout the neighborhood warning that the entire area is peppered with cameras.  And if the HOA has some additional $ they can put into the deal that they'll put some cameras in the park or playground areas.  

 

 

So I'm not saying LPR is bad and I agree that it might help investigations but only if the crime in question is really going to have a high enough priority to PD to warrant the time it will take them to go through all the licenses and then interviews of all those people and I don't believe most crimes that HOA's are grappling with are high enough priority.

They’d at least run the plate, right?

Maybe it’s the third time this month it’s shown up. Maybe it’s worth their while then. Or maybe they’re on probation/parole, that makes the bar a little lower to pick them up. Or at least contact their P.O.

Or maybe the plate shows up later, criminals have a way of getting caught, sooner or later.  Once in a blue moon you might even recover some property back because you are in the file.

 

Good point, it only addresses one small aspect of neighborhood security. Barring car accidents or drive by shootings, it would be pretty difficult to prosecute anyone "in the car" based on the evidence this camera provides.

"it would be pretty difficult to prosecute anyone "in the car" based on the evidence this camera provides."

you are too far down the train tracks, Michael...  prosecution is the end game.

it is better used (imo) as an investigative tool.

if you possess no evidence to even begin focusing on certain suspects, then your LE have no tools to even begin to provide the local D.A. the evidence they need to attempt to prosecute anyone.

finding stolen merchandise (as an example) is easier when you know whose garage to look in.

example:  I live in a large residential subdivision in the suburbs of my state's capital city.  We have a low crime rate in my neighborhood, but the HOA has cameras in common areas like the playgrounds and community pool areas.

The subdivision only has two (road) entrances, with many smaller roads meandering throughout. If my HOA had this product installed at the two choke points - and it actually performed how the manufacturer says it can (and I agree with the skeptics above regarding performance) then if an 'outsider' rolled through the neighborhood in the middle of the night stealing blow up santas and snowmen, we could probably at least have something to give to the LE people who might be assigned to investigate such a theft.

i.e. they can run plates of each car that enters/exits between midnight and 5am, and eliminate those plate captures of residents.  They could very well be left with only 1 or 2 plates to investigate... and blow up santas are hard to hide.

Note:  Since the HOA already has a camera system, I imagine it would be easier and more efficient to just add LPR cameras at the two entrances and just manage everything via whatever camera management platform they currently use. 

 

 

Somehow they got themselves some free advertising on the news last night.

We work with a lot of HOAs in the Atlanta area and have not heard of them. I also do not see them as a real threat. We put a system in one HOA, and within a week, we got a girl jumping on the swing gate as it was opening, which apparently damaged the opener, and a FEDEX truck driving through a barrier arm on the other gate.

Communities usually want more than tags, they want gate overview, pool areas, etc.

I see the product filling a very specific niche, where there may not be any infrastructure, multiple entry points, etc.  From the glimpse I saw on the news last night, it looks like a lot more than on their website. The device was mounted about 4 feet high, with a solar panel that was roughly 18"x24". I only saw a glimpse of it in the background.

Not very vandal resistant

We work with many HOAs directly (via an internal champion) and through resellers. It is great to be focused on a target customer (I can hear the investor pitch... so many HOAs, underserved, x number of cameras) but be prepared for long sales cycles (dependent on board meetings), and no long-term contracts.

I have doubts about the camera with its ability to capture plates other than in very close proximity and the recognition algorithms running on/in the camera without a platform like NVIDIA Jetson.  To state higher LPR accuracy without benchmarks or a bake-off is just marketing fluff.

I don't see this being too successful. LPR cameras and and LTE transporting the data? Installed at a busy HOA, I don't know what gets drained faster, the batteries during the winter months or their bank account paying for all that data?

Does this thing actually store video streams in the cloud or just LPR metadata and a snapshot for each event?

"the technology that has been unleashed in Coral Gate is completely unregulated and unmonitored by state or local laws."

Flock getting some push back from Miami neighborhood.

Has anyone encountered Flock Safety installations? Their website is very end-user friendly yet I found little information on their camera or LPR algorithm that could be used to compare it to other LPR solutions.

The whole thing look suspicous. You will find articles about them online but they sure look like clever marketing writing. You will see tv news mentioning them on youtube, but nothing in depth. Additionally, I can't seem to find any footage online of what their system actually looks like.

I'm not their target market. I saw potential in their system as a high end trail camera with cloud storage, searchable imagery, and customer support. I liked the concept as something I could deploy to a satellite work site that had no guards or cameras.

Screen capture from YouTube:

I meant actual footage of what their video and UI looks like, actual reports, etc.

"You will see tv news mentioning them on youtube, but nothing in depth."

the Washington Post did the most in-depth video piece on Flock a few months ago here...

It includes interviews with Flock people, HOA members, the ACLU, etc...

beyond license plate capture (and forensic search) that little camera has object recognition, color and type of vehicle, etc analytics.... all apparently fired by motion detection sensor.

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