Tenchi

Strange device on street lamp

20 posts in this topic

I was driving home from work today taking a slightly different route through town and I spotted something I hadn't seen before. A white plastic box attached to the top of a street lamp with a black stubby antenna (rubber-duck-style thing) and a black cable coming from the bottom, seemingly disappearing into the metal lamp post. I didn't get a close look because I was driving. But then I spotted another one just up the street, and another ... they're spaced about 4-5 lamps apart all down this long street heading into town.

I took a picture with my non-existent camera:

post-14728-1217008183_thumb.png

Basically, WTH is it? Has anyone come across them before? Might be worth investigating over the weekend.

Tenchi

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We have them in a few areas, they are repeaters most of the time although that sounds like a lot for one area.

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hmm, could be something to update the timing on when they turn on and off. or something for the 800MHz band. got a pair of binoc's to see any stickers? my guess is its something for the city com band.

wait, i bet its city wide wifi. do any isp providers offer such things in your area?

Edited by UTS_HOST
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We have them in a few areas, they are repeaters most of the time although that sounds like a lot for one area.

Repeating what? Yes they were very regular along the street.

hmm, could be something to update the timing on when they turn on and off.

I can't remember seeing the standard light-sensing LDR jobby on top of the lamps, so you might be right. Sounds like a crazy expensive, insecure and prone-to-failure replacement IMO :P

or something for the 800MHz band. got a pair of binoc's to see any stickers? my guess is its something for the city com band.

wait, i bet its city wide wifi. do any isp providers offer such things in your area?

Wifi crossed my mind but I've only seen it on this one street and I know the town pretty well (always looking for strange boxes/cctv/antennas). Maybe they're a recent install. The lamp posts themselves caught my attention because they looked (a) new and (B) horrifyingly ugly. We do have a couple of big telcos with HQs in town so it's not unlikely.

What's a city com band? I googled a bit but got brass bands :P

I'll grab a camera and binocs over the weekend and see what I can document. I could try my laptop and see if it's wifi, but I don't have any fancy scanning equipment to attempt anything else.

Thanks for the clues ^^

Tenchi

EDIT: It's only 20 mins away, I'd go do it now but 3 whiskeys spoilt that idea :P

Edited by Tenchi
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sorry i tend to abbreviate things when i shouldn't lol. city communication, along the lines of the 800MHz band most cities and cops use these days. could be repeaters or some kind of update to the system since you said they are new. i'd bet if you can see stickers that will give the most info one them.

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sorry i tend to abbreviate things when i shouldn't lol. city communication, along the lines of the 800MHz band most cities and cops use these days. could be repeaters or some kind of update to the system since you said they are new. i'd bet if you can see stickers that will give the most info one them.

Emergency services in the UK are moving over to TETRA (apparently 380-395MHz and a controversial 17.6Hz). I've seen the antennas and spotted them in town (everywhere) so I can rule that out.

Is there anything else a city would need comms for? I checked for the usual signs of a traffic survey, environmental/air pollution study, speed trap, cctv, disabled dudes direction guide thing...

Yes you're right - stickers, manufacturers, anything other than "lolz i found a white box wot it is?" would be useful :lol:

Tenchi

EDIT: Whiskey.

Edited by Tenchi
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oo UK, i was thinking us. holy different ball game as far as city coms.

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I really like that Picture taken from your non-existant camera, not sarcasim either :P

I kept hearing stories before about the UK adding cameras, sonar, microphones, and other devices all around the country...

Is it possible that they're actually implementing devices along these lines?

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-n...00252-20559735/

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread264908/pg1

Here's an older slashdot article mentioning about doing a country-wide Wifi with street lamps:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/01/15/1410253

A quick search on google comes up with countless searches of different similiar devices UK ' plans ' on implementing...

I never been to the UK though so I have no idea.

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oo UK, i was thinking us. holy different ball game as far as city coms.

Sorry my fault, I changed my profile location a while back from 'UK' to '+44' .. not really helpful to everyone. Just assumed when I posted that everyone would suddenly know heh.

+1 Whiskey -.-

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Is it possible that they're actually implementing devices along these lines?

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-n...00252-20559735/

I've heard about CCTV upgrades to automatically gimbal on suspicious sounds but not microphone-only devices. I can't rule that one out but it doesn't sound likely. It's one of the more expensive streets in town to live on and everywhere else is already littered with cameras.

Please don't exist -.-

In this case I think the boxes are in the wrong location to manage such a task. And the casing looks very generic "junction box" style UPVC to be anything that clever. Never judge a device by it's casing though I guess..

Here's an older slashdot article mentioning about doing a country-wide Wifi with street lamps:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/01/15/1410253

Hacktastic :D

Edited by Tenchi
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Could you possibly provide us with a picture of that device?

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I finally managed to snap a picture of one:

post-14728-1217090933_thumb.jpg

My description was way off! It's a white antenna and not rubber but some kind of plastic tube. Like shortstick antennas for CB radios. That black wire going into the street lamp is very chunky - it could just be power or it could have more cores. I've tried to recreate the warning stickers I saw through the binoculars.

I cruised around town for about an hour looking for similar devices anywhere else, but they only seem to be on two streets - one very nice neighborhood and one rough-looking one right next to each other. I asked kids how long they've been there but they threw stuff at me, so I asked around the telco providers in town. None recognise these boxes.

The street lamps do have the usual light sensors on top so I don't think it's for lamp management or anything. And they're not on every lamp anyway. I looked around the sidewalk for signs of new cabling but I couldn't see anything obvious. That phone wire running overhead in the picture isn't connected to the lamp in any way.

Curious!

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At practically every intersection in Vancouver, we have multiple strange looking devices on each post and streelight. We also have CCTV everywhere.

WELL IT SUCKS.

Half of those strange devices are involved in E-COMM though. Basically providing the wide area radio network for the police which includes GPS, Secure radio, intarnetz, etc..

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I have seen similar devices on street lamps in DC. In areas where they desire increased video surveillance they will mount boxes similar to that. Some are like the one you show with only antennas. (some have patch looking antennas and some have the shortstick type, some both) Some others actually have dome cameras mounted on them. Next time I am down that way I will try to grab a picture.

-Light

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I sent a polite letter to my local council asking what the devices were, and attached a photo too. Today I got a very friendly but surprising response:

Although I have no idea what the new installation's purpose is you have me intrigued also now!

Intriguing indeed :P

I have tried a different department to see if they can shed any light.

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I sent a polite letter to my local council asking what the devices were, and attached a photo too. Today I got a very friendly but surprising response:
Although I have no idea what the new installation's purpose is you have me intrigued also now!

Intriguing indeed :P

I have tried a different department to see if they can shed any light.

If you haven't yet, ask the department of electricity. If they are like the ones I've seen, they draw the power from the street lamps. The electric company would kinda need to be let in if they are expected to not go cut them off.

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very odd indeed. with the size of the RF antenna it could be a upgrade to the 854MHz band (GSM cell band in the uk) can't say for sure tho :( most of the time those kind of things are put up on high towers not at street level. now i really want to know what they are lol.

Edited by UTS_HOST
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With regard to you email enquiry regarding "units" fitted to street lights in

-------------

, I can inform you that the box contains low powered radio equipment which in turn forms part of a trial wireless local area network installed by Vodafone in agreement with

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Council.

This trial has now ended and the equipment will be removed from the box, with the box remaining in situ for any further trial.

Senior Engineer (Electrical)

Highways & Transport

I think this e-mail poses more questions than it answers :P I will contact Vodafone next to see if they're willing to share anything. I couldn't find any press releases or news stories on the web to shed any light.

Why would Vodafone and the council install a wireless LAN in two streets?

EDIT: Maybe I'm reading too much into the whole thing but I'm still sure it was intended for something interesting. If the answer was "wifi internet access" I'd be disappointed!

Edited by Tenchi
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I poked with one of the networkd firealarm deals (WEP). It would not stop beeping after like 2 days I was using it as a extra broad band connection and they replaced it with a cellular solution.. I don't think I had anything to do with that but then again you never know how closely they are watching the connection.

Edited by operat0r
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