Council wants city surveillance camera system to join the 21st century

surveillance cameras
Rikard Larma / Metro

A City Council committee held a hearing Monday afternoon in an attempt to sort out the state of Philadelphia’s embattled citywide surveillance camera system, which officials have been attempting to put in place since 2007.

“As with many things in Philadelphia, the city didn’t invest the money up front to get it done right,” City Controller Alan Butkovitz said of the $14 million system, which has suffered technological and oversight setbacks and so far delivered little return. “You can’t piecemeal your way into a complicated system and expect the kind of results you want.”

The meeting was inspired by a mid-January trip Council members took to Baltimore. “One of the most startling statistics we learned is that they were able to successfully reduce crime by 25 percent,” Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. said.

“That was through the use of not just technology, but triangulation between eyes on monitors, boots on the ground in the form of police officers and those cameras.”

Baltimore has through its CitiWatch program tapped into 600 private and municipal cameras citywide whose feeds are monitored in real time at a centralized command center by analysts largely comprised of retired or off-duty police officers.

“In Baltimore, the use of a public-private partnership acted as an auxiliary to cameras,” Council President Darrell Clarke said. “That’s something we want to look at here.”

He found at the hearing a number of stakeholders willing to work to make that happen. “There’s a new program just being introduced by the Commerce Department offering a rebate – I believe it’s for 50 percent of costs up to $3,000 – to encourage businesses citywide to provide information about their cameras through the SafeCam Program,” Stacy Irving of the Center City District said.

Unlike Baltimore’s program, SafeCam doesn’t allow police to directly tap into private camera feeds, but instead maps them so detectives know where to look when a crime does occur.

Irving said that idea has been floated in Philadelphia’s private sector, but was “roundly denied.”

By the numbers

 

12,089 cameras are operated by SEPTA and located across the agency’s entire transit system.

500 cameras are operated by businesses and institutions in Center City alone, according to an estimate from the Center City District.

500 new cameras will be installed by the Philadelphia Housing Authority over the next 14 months.

621 cameras are located on the University of Pennsylvania campus and operated by the school’s Division of Public Safety.

216 cameras have been installed by the city of Philadelphia. At last count, only 114 of those were working, according to Butkovitz.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox walk off with…

Red Sox pick up first walk off win of 2014

MLB

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at…

Red Sox and Orioles meet Monday morning at 11 a.m.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.