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Pittsburgh thoughtfully approaches massive video surveillance expansion

Published by Dan on January 2, 2008 8:44 AM

The city of Pittsburgh is gearing up for a large-scale upgrade to its existing video surveillance operation. Plans are in the works to integrate hundreds of existing security cameras with new, high-tech cameras so they can all operate on one centrally-monitored system. To move the process along, the city has hired an outside firm, N.W. Getz and Associates, to develop a timetable, examine computer networks for the system, and evaluate rules for preventing abuse and misuse of the cameras.

The new surveillance cameras will first be installed in port facilities and various public areas throughout the city. The expansion will continue into neighborhood business districts, and will also eventually include a mobile surveillance system for temporary use at large public events and in crime hot spots. By guarding the port with video security, the city will be monitoring not only port facilities, but also its major corridors and routes including bridges carrying traffic into downtown. As part of the initial phase of installation, cameras will also be placed on tall buildings for comprehensive overviews, and in public areas such as parks. A gunshot-detection system is another option for the first phase of deployment.

The city is being quite careful to ensure that the surveillance system will not be regarded as an invasion of privacy. Efforts will be made to avoid misuse of the new cameras, and all of the added video security will exist in public spaces where surveillance has come to be expected. A 6-month timetable has been set for picking out the cameras and technology to be used in the new surveillance system.

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