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  Neighborhoods Using Technology to Fight Crime in Richmond
May 28, 2005
There aren't enough police in the world to provide the level of surveillance or patrols necessary to impact the petty crime that plagues even neighborhoods that are considered upscale. These crimes typically include vehicle thefts and break-ins, burglary, vandalism and dumping. For example, two friends in Point Richmond, one an employee of my firm, had their cars stolen last week. In some cities, police are no longer responding to unverified burglar alarms because of the high cost.

An emerging solution to both preventing and solving these petty crimes involves privately owned surveillance cameras that view public streets and sidewalks in neighborhoods and business districts.  This fairly new technology, called netcams, were previously limited to high security applications and can revolutionize the way citizens aid law enforcement and provide peace of mind to neighborhoods.

Netcams are cameras that connect directly to the Internet.  They allow a person to see and even hear what the camera captures from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. More importantly, these images can also be recorded and stored for later access in case a crime has been committed. The images attached as PDF files are of potential suspects of petty crimes in Richmond residential areas taken in the last 6 months by video cameras.

An example of a live netcam image in Richmond can be seen at http://richmondnetcam.dyndns.org/cgi-bin/getuid?PAGE=1117292636781&FILE=indexnw.html, which records 24/7 all activity on the street, including the license number of any vehicle that passes day or night. The image looks narrowly focused, but in fact includes the entire street. If you happen to click on this link at night, it will be dark unless activated by a vehicle or other activity. This particular camera is operated and paid for by every resident in the neighborhood in which it is located.

One source for netcam installation is Tom Carson, Tech Systems Engineer, Integration Team, 917 Western Drive, Suite A, Richmond, CA 94801. 510.234.9320 off 510.233.0742 fax. Email tom@integration-team.com.

Some people are offended by the idea of privately operated surveillance cameras, believing that it smacks of “big brother” watching you. I take a different approach. This is not “big brother;” it’s simply neighbor helping neighbor in an extension of the tradition of “Crime Watch” where “eyes on the street” are the best possible deterrent to crime.




thieif sees cameras.jpg