As posted in the Star Gazette
September 10, 2009
By Ray Finger

A new wireless surveillance camera system to help fight crime on city streets was demonstrated Thursday for Elmira City Council members.

“The cameras themselves are another tool to decrease crime in any area, along with the police effort, so it’s always a complementary effort,” said Dave O’Hare, director of business development for Integrated Systems of Victor, N.Y., who made a presentation during Thursday’s council workshop.

“What’s happened is, as city and county budgets have been reduced, police are starting to use technology to work for them,” he said. “It will never take the place of the cop on the beat, but it will give them the eyes, the ears to see in places that they can’t cover physically.”

City Council will vote on authorizing a contract with Integrated Systems when the council meets at 7 p.m. Monday on the second floor of Elmira City Hall, 317 E. Church St.

The cameras can be moved easily among trouble spots and will transmit images and sound across a secure, private wireless network to police. The goal is to put the devices in chronic crime areas or areas that have seen an increase in crime, Mayor John Tonello said.

“The resolution of these cameras is very high,” he said. “You can capture license plate numbers. You can capture tattoos. You can capture a lot of information with the goal of solving the crime and being able to establish enough evidence for conviction.”

The project is being funded with $120,000 of federal Community Development Block Grant Recovery funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Six cameras are initially planned, said Kelli Ramsdell, the city’s director of community development. She is hopeful they will be installed and operational by the end of the year. The system will be tested for a year, and a few cameras might be added annually in various locations, she said.

“The cameras and the technology constantly improve and get better and better,” O’Hare said. Newer models use less bandwidth per camera, so more cameras can be used with a single radio signal, he said.

This is one of the city’s first steps in establishing a wireless broadband network that can be used for a variety of other applications, such as in-car police computer communication with City Hall, Tonello said.