Open architecture key to public cameras

Chief Ed MedinaEarlier this week we posted an update on the public camera system installed in the Northern California community of Richmond. Richmond is one of a long list of cities using cameras in the effort to help fight crime and keep its citizens safe.

The system originally had 34 IP wireless cameras and has also already undergone two expansions. See the original news article here.

The first expansion tapped into an existing camera system at a federally funded low-income housing development. The eight-camera system was granted to the Richmond city police department. Richmond PD can tap into it whenever it wants and, according to Deputy Police Chief Ed Medina, it has been a useful law enforcement tool.

Video from that system recently helped show that a bicyclist was responsible for a serious accident involving a car. It recorded the incident, exonerated the driver and put an end to an expansive lawsuit.

The second expansion included three new cameras installed at a recently opened city park.

In both cases the city was able to tap into the new systems without any problem. And Medina credits the open architecture used in the design of the original system.

“We are hoping to tap into other cameras and camera systems more often,” said Medina. “The open architecture used in our system will allow us to do that.”

Richmond police would like to be able to access video from merchants and other businesses in town. Being able to access video from more cameras allows the city to cover more area and collect additional evidence when needed.

“We know that 98 percent of the time we are not going to catch someone in real time coming out of a bank after a robbery,” he said.

He said the real value is in providing hard evidence after the fact.

In order to add additional cameras faster and more cost efficiently, the city is hoping to get installation training for city works crews and other city staff. According to Medina, that training is part of the contract with the security system integrator.

Check back for Deputy Chief Medina’s advice to other cities or municipalities looking to implement a public safety camera system. Also, let us know what you are doing in your own city.

Richmond surveillance camera