Homeowners can link private cameras to city's surveillance networkCharles Hill installed five surveillance cameras outside the 3,720-square-foot home he's building in West Chatham after local kids broke $3,700 worth of architectural windows.
From now on he won't be the only one checking the
video when something bad happens on his block.
After vandals broke $3,700 worth of windows, Charles Hill had enough. He's linking his security cameras to Chicago's 911 center.
Charles Hill is the first homeowner to agree to hook up his camera's to the City of Chicago network.
Hill has become the first private homeowner to take the city up on its unprecedented offer to connect privately owned exterior surveillance cameras to Chicago's 911 emergency center.
"It'll do wonders for the block. God forbid, something mysteriously happens in the community. Those cameras could provide the city with some edge -- wherever it takes them," Hill said.
"Some people talk about the ACLU and all these privacy rights. But if a crime takes place, those individuals had to come from somewhere. I don't care if it's my brother or my mother. If those cameras do what they're supposed to do, whoever suffers will suffer."
As for the window vandalism, Hill said, "A lot of people said, 'Board the windows up.' I just refused to do it. I caught these kids."
Hill is not the only one taking advantage of the offer made by the city two months ago.
Nearly two dozen colleges, businesses and high-rises also have agreed to share their video with the 911 center to create a panoramic view of disaster scenes.
They include Boeing, Macy's, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Golub & Company, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Sears Tower, Prudential Plaza, the Cook County Administration Building, Rush Hospital, Columbia College, Harold Washington College, St. Xavier University, DePaul University, Roosevelt University, Ike Sims Village and an association of State Street merchants.
After the deadly school shootings at Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech, DePaul is hooking up at least 15 cameras at its Lincoln Park and South Loop campuses at a cost of roughly $10,000 for computer servers and switches.
Both DePaul campuses are in the heart of bustling residential and commercial districts.
"If something happens on a city street where we have a camera and the city has access to it, they can tell what they're sending first-responders into. . . . If there's an offender and the person is still in camera view, they can see what the person is doing and describe it to first-responders," said Bob Wachowski, DePaul's director of public safety.
Blue Cross will be adding six to eight cameras to the city's network at a building at 300 E. Randolph that's soon to double in size.
"An effective response in an emergency is based on the quality of information available to emergency responders. There's no better information than live video," said Patrick Dorsey, the company's executive director of security and safety.
The public-private Internet hookup will transmit fully encrypted video that cannot be compromised by computer hackers.
It was made possible by software tied to Operation Virtual Shield. That's the security grid that linked existing fiber optics into a single network and paved the way for hundreds more surveillance cameras, sophisticated software capable of spotting suspicious behavior and for mass transit cameras to be monitored by the 911 center.
Considering the enthusiastic response in the first two months, City Hall is confident that hundreds of private cameras ultimately will be added to the city's network.
"Besides the inevitable of what happened on 9/11, we see now that we have to reach out to forge a partnership with the private sector, and they see that, too," said Jim Argiropoulos, deputy executive director of the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
"We're here for a common cause: to enhance security," he said. "They see that partnering with us and expanding the camera network is a win-win in terms of safety and security for Chicago." (suntimes, 9.29.2008) http://www.suntimes.com/news/24-7/1190403,CST-NWS-cameras29.article