Still, the surveillance cameras 'are only a tool' in fighting crime, mayor says
Police in the city of West Palm Beach, Fla., today announced the installation of a wireless video surveillance system and said that the technology had already come in handy in a drug bust during its deployment stage.
The $420,000 system was financed with funds from property seized in criminal investigations. It was installed by a local office of integrator Security 101 using equipment from Los Gatos, Calif.-based Firetide Inc., city officials said.
The first phase of the program includes 13 cameras focused on the city's more crime-ridden neighborhoods, where police hope to deter gang activity, drug dealing and prostitution, according to a statement from police and Firetide.
In an interview, Mayor Lois Frankel said the cameras will not bring bad publicity to the city of 100,000, because it already knows it has a crime problem. "We have only gotten positive feedback, and people like having the cameras," she said.
The system, which as installed in just two days about a month ago after a year of planning, quickly became effective while it was being deployed, according to police, who said it was useful in efforts to arrest suspects in a drug bust. Further details of that arrest were unavailable.
Police will be able to use Wi-Fi-capable laptops to access the system's video feeds. The cameras are connected to 17 Firetide mesh nodes, and each mesh node is coupled with a Wi-Fi access point, Firetide officials said. Firetide's network architecture helps improve throughput speeds, according to company officials.
An unusual feature of the West Palm Beach system is that its cameras are able to peer inside of buildings such as banks and other businesses. One bank has already asked to join the network, Firetide officials said.
Despite the system's early success and its capabilities, Frankel said she is realistic about what it can accomplish, and she noted that the deployment of the video surveillance technology is part of a multipronged crime-fighting initiative that includes increasing the number of police officers.
"The cameras are just a tool, not a replacement for anything," she said. "Crime is caused by a lot of factors, and you have to address them all."