Keys to a Successful Public Camera System

Ed MedinaWe have been talking about the installation of public cameras in Richmond.  This San Francisco Bay Area town recently finished the installation of a camera system which has undergone two expansions and now has 45 wireless cameras throughout sections of the city. 
The Richmond police department was essential in getting the system off the ground and has the responsibility for monitoring it from police headquarters. 

Many cities and municipalities are looking at harnessing the power of video and installing similar systems.  Richmond Deputy Police Chief Ed Medina has some advice for other cities.  Here are three things that Medina feels are key for implementing a successful public camera system:

•    Planning – Medina said that planning is the number one thing cities need to roll out a public camera system.  A comprehensive plan is an essential initial first step.

•    Dedicated intercity team – The city of Richmond put together a team of representatives from departments throughout the city.  This included finance, public works, IT and the city manager’s office.  It also included business leaders and the systems integrator for the wireless camera system.  Medina emphasizes that these should all be decision makers – people who can make decisions and get things done.  He believes this type of buy-in is essential.

“It is going to fail if everyone says to the police department this is your problem,” said Medina.  He added that everyone has to be in on the decision making and take a share of responsibility for its success.

•    Dedicated watch force – According to Medina the cameras have to be watched and monitored to be effective.  We discussed in an earlier post how the city is using retired officers to monitor the system.  While most of the time video is used for forensic evidence, it can also be used to quickly identify problems or issues that can head off harmful situations.  He believes the system has to be monitored to be effective.

Please let us know if you have questions for Deputy Chief Medina and share your experiences with municipal security and cameras with us.

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