In the United States, police departments in more than 1,000 cities are now relying on a national network of surveillance cameras. The cameras capture license plate information, along with people, cars, animals and cyclists.

The Atlanta-based start-up that markets the cameras says that they help police departments collect evidence. The cameras not only share video content with law enforcement, but they’re also designed to provide information to home owner associations or individuals in neighborhoods.

A key selling point for the cameras is their sleek, unobtrusive look. Another is their affordability. Regarding privacy, the purveyor states that it’s the “only ALPR crime-solving camera system with privacy protection measures built in”.

Privacy advocates murmur about Orwellian dystopias and disruptive data breaches. A digital privacy group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that ALPR technology has not proven effective. “…there is no real evidence that ALPRs reduce crime”, asserts the group.

The real question is, ‘do cameras help solve and stop future crimes?’

This debate is similar to the more light-hearted heatup over how much coffee to drink per day—Some evidence finds that a few cups are good for one’s health. Other evidence illustrates coffee’s negative consequences.

The evidence in favor or against of rolling out a network of smart-camera technology to help fight crime is still emerging. The controversy will continue until the evidence improves. So, the jury isn’t out yet.

For more on the national network of cameras, visit ThreatPost.