Guest Column | December 3, 2013

Higher Public Profile Drives Greater Interest In Video

By Steve Gorski, General Manager Americas, MOBOTIX

Criminal activity is constantly evolving to outsmart the technology used to keep the public safe. As a result, cities across the world are investing in newer, more comprehensive surveillance technologies to stay one step ahead of the curve.

Video footage of recent incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing, the terrorist attack in a shopping mall in Nairobi, or the shooting at Los Angeles International Airport has proved useful to crime task forces in identifying criminals. It has also increased demand for video surveillance as a means to prevent future incidents. More and more, the public and private sectors are realizing the potential of less expensive, more intelligent high-resolution cameras and are collaborating to provide a network of video information and greater awareness for public safety.

Surveillance as an Investigative Tool

Criminal investigations are more effective because of improvements in camera technology. City-managed facilities including prisons, parks, and county buildings place higher-resolution cameras in key locations due to their increased capabilities and rapid sharing abilities. Video footage could prove useful, whether in real-time or post-incident for investigations, to swiftly apprehend criminals and minimize public hazards.

Public and Private Sector Collaboration

Private business owners equipped with video surveillance in their lobbies or storefronts often aid police. Recent assaults on public safety —  like the Boston bombings — have drawn attention to how quickly these businesses can disseminate information to first responders, and subsequently, for public consumption via media outlets. Public and private collaboration also helps to pay for video systems. For example, downtown business associations or neighborhood associations can allocate funds for extra cameras to keep areas safe.

Municipal Investment in Leading Technologies

Given the success of sharing video between private businesses and the authorities on matters of public safety, cities have begun investing in the latest video surveillance technology in the hopes of being tougher on crime and easier on budgets. New York City in particular spends a significant amount on expanding the reaches of the NYPD by installing cameras across its infrastructure. Higher-resolution cameras with individual memory cards and larger field of views could help lower costs in the future for New York and similar municipalities.

Public Support for More Surveillance

Examples such as New York City highlight a growing acceptance among the public that weighs the safety benefits of new intelligent video technology against privacy concerns. Private and public entities rely heavily on video surveillance to increase public safety. Involving the public in the implementation of a surveillance system can help to ease anxiety — and get them invested in the success of a city’s technology programs.

Smarter Police Presence and Capabilities

Making use of the IP network to share important video footage more quickly can enable law enforcement agencies to employ their forces more effectively than ever before. Cameras are a force multiplier, enabling officers to see more. Video capabilities can free up officers to be more visible on the streets or for other duties. For instance, certain cameras can now notify the authorities of suspicious behavior when programmed to do so, and real-time footage can be accessed from anywhere on any mobile device, even from a squad car. The more accurate the imaging, the better law enforcement can do its job, which promotes a safe environment overall.