Published on 3 Jul 2007
Privately funded CCTV systems in public areas are gaining increasing acceptance, with more and more neighbourhood or special-interest groups pooling funds to install cameras. Eureka (California), Zurich in Switzerland, the London Borough of Enfield, and Belfast in Northern Ireland have all seen surveillance equipment sponsored by businesses and neighbourhood watchdogs.
A current example is occurring in south side Milwaukee where a major thoroughfare, National Avenue, is benefiting from day-night high resolution cameras with lenses from Californian manufacturer Rainbow.
The lenses are 5~55mm and 8.5~85mm varifocals which are producing views of known trouble spots from storefronts in an area with a history of social problems. A main receiving centre on National Avenue is equipped with 32-channel digital video recorders from with two-terabyte storage. This is a wireless, IP-addressable system with the analogue signals being converted using interfaces from Pelco.
The installation has been performed by Milwaukee-based S-O-S Electronics Corporation whose CEO, Guy Andreotti, said, "The system is already showing encouraging results with crime in the area having reduced markedly in a matter of weeks. The obvious advantage of the IP-addressable units is that through secure Internet access, a number of interested parties can monitor the images. The project is being fine-tuned with bandwidth being optimised and an ambulance despatch agency beginning to access the images."
Mr Andreotti continued, "The Rainbow lenses have excellent functionality and the company's wide range of varifocals allows us to provide optimum images from viewing points with differing dimensions and lighting. Additionally, the units proved competitive in price."
While many businesses have contributed to the financing and planning of the project, a major player has been Badger Mutual Insurance Co. Other Milwaukee neighbourhood groups have expressed interest in similar programs and Alderman Bob Donovan expects security cameras to spread through the city in 2007.