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Mobile Camera Surveillance Systems

Goals

To identify 2-3 examples of mobile camera surveillance systems that have worked to reduce crime in areas other than Central America for the purposes of understanding products on the market in preparation for developing cameras to help deter crime in violent neighborhoods.

Early Findings

Preliminary research indicates there are several case studies of examples where camera surveillance systems have worked to reduce crimes in areas other than Central America. However, none specified if they were mobile camera surveillance systems.

ECUADOR

  • Ecuador has installed a network of surveillance cameras across its 24 provinces to watch over its 16.4 million citizens.
  • The surveillance system, which consists of 4,300 cameras, began operating in November 2016 and includes "an emergency response and monitoring system."
  • After the system was installed, the country's crime rate dropped by 24%.
  • In addition, in 2010, Ecuador was ranked as the 11th safest country in South America, but it has climbed to the fourth safest country since the installation of the surveillance cameras.

BALTIMORE

  • Officials in Baltimore, Maryland installed 500 cameras in the 50-block downtown area, which were monitored by retired police officers from a control room.
  • Approximately four months after the cameras were installed, "crime dropped by more than 30 incidents a month."
  • Three years after installation, the crime rate was still, on average, 30 incidents lower than the same month a year earlier. In some months, the crime rate was half what it was in the same month a year earlier.
  • A study found that the camera installations resulted in "significant declines in total crime, violent crime, and larceny downtown" and the researchers "found no evidence that crime was being displaced to nearby areas and, in fact, observed some signs that crime prevention benefits extended beyond the cameras’ specific viewing areas."

CHICAGO

  • The city of Chicago installed more than 8,000 cameras, 2,000 of which were placed in two high-crime neighborhoods: Humboldt Park and West Garfield Park.
  • The cameras were highly visible and could be monitored in real time from police officers' desktop computers.
  • Although there was a brief spike in crime the first month following installation, it dropped by 20% the following month. Even after factoring in other elements that could have been responsible for the decrease, researchers determined the cameras were responsible for at least 12% of that drop.
  • In the months that followed, "average monthly crime counts for drug-related offenses and robberies fell by nearly a third (or over 30 fewer drug-related offenses and three fewer robberies per month). Violent crime was down 20 percent, with six fewer incidents per month on average."
  • West Garfield experienced no change in crime rates, likely because there were far fewer cameras in West Garfield (36 per square mile) compared to Humboldt (53 per square mile) and because West Garfield's cameras were not monitored as closely.

WASHINGTON DC

  • Following a crime spree in which the city experienced 14 murders in 11 days, officials in Washington DC installed surveillance cameras "in specific locations with a high volume of violent crimes."
  • The cameras were highly visible, although less so than the ones in Baltimore and Chicago.
  • Although the violent crime rate went down, the theft rate increased and officials were unsure if either data point was related to the cameras.
  • However, when crime was caught on camera, "the footage was a powerful tool in investigating and prosecuting the offense."
  • In addition, police felt that "the cameras were a crime deterrent and, at the least, raised community awareness and the perception of safety."

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