Private industry pays for municipal video surveillance cameras

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08/16/2011

So I picked up this somewhat interesting article via SIA's Daily Update email (which is pretty cool--you can sign up for your edition here). They picked up a story from a local Allentown, Pa. paper, The Morning Call. That paper was carrying a story on municipal video surveillance, which is something I've written about before.

I'm interested in video, surveillance, analytics, biometrics, access control--oh and robots and flying cars--and all that other stuff that brings us closer to a sci-fi-ish future.

According to the story, the city had leveraged government money to put up 97 municipal "blue light cameras," so named for their adjoined, flashing blue, cruiser-like lights to watch city streets. However, that money is now drying up and the city is turning to the private sector--area businesses to chip in and cover the cost of adding more.

A little surprisingly to me, some businesses are down with the expense and are ponying up.

"Capital Blue Cross became the first company to chip in, paying the city $16,670 to install a blue-light camera at Hamilton and Jefferson streets, across from its 1221 Hamilton St. offices, near its employee parking lot," the story reads.

That's pretty cool. Here's a business that understands the value in municipal monitoring and is working with the city for the benefit of its own employees as well as law enforcement and the general citizenry.

I did an extensive piece on municipal video surveillance in our 2011 Video Surveillance Sourcebook. Specifically, I looked at privacy concerns and whether or not a proliferation of municipal cameras could stave off crime. Some have said no, but the statistics from Allentown seem to say otherwise.

The cameras have reduced crime in areas where they have been installed, mostly by pushing it into un-monitored areas, said Assistant Police Chief Daniel Warg. For example, a chronic drug market at the corner of Sixth and Turner streets evaporated when the city installed a camera there, he said.

There's no way to prove the cameras prevent violent crime, but in 2010, the city recorded nine murders, the lowest number since 2002 and less than half the record 21 killings that took place in 2007, the year Allentown installed its first surveillance cameras.

Let's hope more communities start this kind of privately funded municipal program. Seems to me it would mean improved industry/municipality relations, businesses more invested in their communities, safer streets for citizens and probably increased work for local integrators and monitoring companies.