Surveillance cameras have become an integral part of security systems during the past few decades, allowing business decision-makers, homeowners and municipalities to monitor areas where no other authorities are present. Deploying surveillance cameras has been an increasingly popular trend in large cities, as local law enforcement can use the devices to track and identify potential criminals.
In New York, this trend was taken to the next level, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently unveiled a new surveillance system that integrates 3,000 of the city's surveillance cameras with the NYPD's existing criminal database, according to the New York Post.
"We're not your mom-and-pop's police department anymore," Mayor Bloomberg said, according to the news provider. "We are in the next century. We are leading the pack."
The new security management solution is called the Domain Awareness System and was created in a joint effort by the NYPD and Microsoft, the New York Post said. Demonstrating its capabilities, NYPD counterterrorism unit director of policy and planning Jessica Tisch explained how local law enforcement used footage from different cameras to identify the suspect who recently left a suspicious package near Union Square.
The next-generation security system has the ability to identify vehicle registrations based on the car's license plate, which came in handy when authorities were investigating a suspected murderer, the news source noted. The database can even recognize if a person has ever been issued a parking ticket or been charged in other minor crimes.
"We can track where a car associated with a murder suspect is currently located and where it's been over the past several days, weeks or months," Kelly said, according to the New York Post.
Surveillance systems are not a cure-all solution
Other cities around the United States are making similar initiatives to help local law enforcement agencies investigate and reduce criminal occurrences throughout the region. While surveillance cameras are becoming an essential aspect of these strategies, they should not be viewed as the only tool necessary, SecurityInfoWatch reported.
"The cameras are not a panacea," Baltimore Police Commissioner Fredrick Bealefeld said, according to SecurityInfoWatch. "They are a component of your overall program."
Baltimore, which has more than 530 surveillance cameras at its disposal, has one of the most intricate integrated security systems in the United States, as the devices monitor activity 24 hours a day, every day of the year. However, Bealefeld said that surveillance cameras cannot replace police officers, instead the tools can be used as an extra set of eyes in areas where physical monitoring may not be possible, the news source said. They should be viewed as an enhancement, not a replacement.
By implementing integrated security systems, municipalities around the country may be able to enhance their crime deterrence capabilities and improve local law enforcement's ability to investigate dangerous or law-breaking situations.