Lancaster City Surveillance Case Study

Author: Carlton Purvis, Published on May 31, 2013

Most city surveillance systems are owned by local governments and paid for by taxpayer dollars, but shrinking budgets can cause cities to skimp on a system or neglect maintenance. However, one Pennsylvania city has created a citizen-run network of cameras and an adopt-a-camera program to keep up with its maintenance. In this note, we examine this program based on an interview with their managing director and analysis of their operational reports.

Operation and Adoption

The Lancaster Community Safety Coalition (LCSC) is a non-profit in Pennsylvania best known for its 161 camera city surveillance network. The organization runs primarily on donations so this month it launched an adopt-a-camera fundraiser to make sure the cameras stay on and working.

“We went through a significant downturn because of the recession, but so far we’ve been able to keep the camera system running,” LCSC Managing Director Wes Farmer says. “We hope this program will help us continue to maintain the cameras.” 

Farmer estimates the cost of the system at $2,300 per camera, per year (A total budget of $379,000. See the breakdown below) This includes maintenance, monitoring, rent for the building that houses the control room and pay for the LCSC staff.

********-*-****** *********** ********* ** ****** $*,*** ****** *** *********** ** * camera ** ***** ********. ** *** *** ** *** **** supporters *** ******** * ****** ** ***** ****** **** ******** maintenance ******* *** *** ***** ****** *** **** **** **** (to *********** * ***** ** **** ******** * **** ** a ***** ****, *** *******). *** ********** *** ********** ********* May *, *** ** ** *** **, ********* ******* (*** ** ***) *** **** ** ** *******.

****** **** ****** *** ****** **** ** ******* ** **** maintain *** ******* ***** ****** *** **** ******** *** ***** played ** ********* ******* *************. “** **** ******* ***** ***** ******* **** **** **** were ***** ****** ** ****** *** **** ******* ** *** the ************ **** *** ****** ** ** ****** ******** ** support **** ********** ******,” ****** ****.

*** ************ *** **** ******** *** ****** *** ****** $***,*** each **** *** ******** ********’* ****** *** *** ****. *** DA’s ****** **** *** ******* **** ****** ***** ***** ****** footage “*** ********** ** ***** ******,” ********** ** ***** ********* $20,000 *** **** **** **** **** ** *****.

The ******

*** ***** ******* **** ********** ********* ** **** ** **** of * ********* ***** ********** **********. *** *** ****** ** made ** ** *** ******* (*** ****** ******* *** ********, 16 ** *******, ********* *** ***), ********* ********, ************* ******* *** ***** ***** ***** **** *** **** ****** the ******’* ******** ************.

*** **** *** **** ** **** ***** ** ****** *** cable **** ** *** **** **** *** **** *** ******* in *** **** *** *** **** ******, *** *** ************ was **** ** *** ******* **** ***** (*** ** **** based ** *********) *** ********** ****** ** ******** *** ****** them * ******** ** **** *** ********.

*** *******, ***** **** ***** ***** ** ******* ** *********, record **/*. *** ********* *** **** ***** *** ******* *** cameras **** **-** ***** ***** *** ****** ** *** ****** scanner *** ********* *** **** * ******* **** *** *********** can **** ** ******* *** ******* ******* * ******* ****. Additionally, **** *** **** **** ***** ** *** *********** *** the ****** *******

***** ** ****** *** ** ****. **** **** ** ** willing ** ******* ******* ** **** ****** *** *********** *** defense ********* **** * ********.

Results ** *** ******

***** **** **** **** *** ****'* ****** ****** *********:

  • ****** ********* ****** ********* *********** 491 ***** to alert them of a crime in progress.
  • **** **** *** **** ** ********* *********** 8,735 *****.
  • **** ******** 1600 ******** ** ****** ***** *** ******** ******** ** *** ** *** 922 *********.
  • ******* ******** ******** *** 133 *******, ** *********

*** ****** ** ************. ** *******, *** ****** ********* **** called ******** ***** *.* ***** *** ****** **** **** ******** ******** *** ** ****** ***** *** day. *** *** ****** $**** ******* **** **** *** ******** to *******, ** **** ****** ***** **?

Future *****“*** ****** ***** **** *** ****** ** ********* ** **** * ******* **** ** ************* *** **** cameras,” **** ******. “* ***** **** ** ****** ***, *** I **** ** **** ***** * **** *** ********* ******* in *** **** ** ********* ** ** **** ** ******* that."

IPVM *********** **** *** ******** ********’* *************** ** ******** ****** ****** ** *** **** ******* **** have ** ******** ** ******* *** ******* **, *** *** amount *** **** ** *** ******. ** *** **** ** cameras **** **** *******, *** ** ********* *** *** **** program ** *** ******* ** ***** ** * *** ** keep *** ******* ****** *** *** **** *** *****. *******, at **** *****, *** ******* **** **** ** ** ********, requiring * **** **** *********** **********.

*** ***** **** *** ********* ************ ******* *** *********** *** public “****” *** ******, *** *** *****-*-****** ******* ***** ****** more ** * ***** ** *********. ** ** *** ** both************, ***** **** ** *** ******* *** *** ****, ******** ***** ****** ****** *** *** * ******** ***** ******* *** murdered, ****** ***** **** ******* *********** ***** ********** ***** ** ****** ************** **** ******** *** **********. *** *** ** **** ******* **** **** **** **** **** *********** *** *** *** ******* are **** *** **********. *** ****** ** **** ****** ** *** questions ***** *** * ****** ** *** ******* **** **** receive ******* ******* ** ***** ****** *** **** **** $*,*** to **** **** *******.

** *** ***** ****, ***** *** ****** ******* ** *** system, **** ** *** ****** *** ** **********, **** ** the **** ***** ** ****?

Comments (7)

I think it's difficult to quantify the value of a camera simply by how many times it's used to provide evidence or triggers a dispatch. The real question is how much (if anything) was saved in court costs or investigative manpower by having that video available. Likely, that varies depending on the crime or the court case, too.

Ethan, let's say we estimate an average total savings - $5,000? $10,000? There must be some reasonable number or range. 150 incidents x $5,000 is 3/4 million, I guess that would be a positive point.

Another way to look at it is as a percentage of all crimes in the city. Lancaster City has 3,000 - 4,000 crimes per year (police stats). That's 1.5 - 2% of crimes caught on these cameras. From what I can find, it seems the Lancasty city police budget is $2.7 million (see budget report - Lancaster only has ~60,000 people - not big).

If that's accurate, investments in police deliver 50x greater return than cameras.

Btw, this is rough and I think we should investigate this more.

I wonder how that 1.5-2% compares to other cities and what percentage of crimes are typically caught on camera/what percentage of cases end up using video evidence?

I agree that further investigation would be interesting. My point isn't a determination of good/bad one way or the other. I was looking at say, a murder case. If evidence caught on camera can point to a murder weapon location, for example (which actually happened in Allentown), and result in a guilty plee or cut trial time substantially, I'd think it would probably go a long way toward paying for the system, if not more, no?

Disclaimer - Bosch rep firm - It will be interesting to see how statistics weigh in versus public opinion. The fact is that city-wide video not only captures images of crimes, not all but enough in a few big cases, and gives the public a sense of security while they are on their neighborhood streets. It will be an interesting few years to see how the push and pull of economics and public opinion play out in cities and neighborhoods of all sizes. The great news is that as camera technology continues to develop, these cities will get more improvements in technology for their dollar. Image resolution improvements, low light performance improvements, and deeper camera/VMS integration will be a great benefit to neighborhood video systems.

"At the end of the year supporters are provided a report on their camera that includes maintenance history and how their camera was used that year"

And at least the camera won't be showing up at your doorstep one day looking for a place to live.

"LCSC says it is willing to provide footage to both police and prosecutors and defense attorneys with a subpoena."

And that's how it should be.

You would turn away a 7 year old Bosch analog PTZ at your doorstep? How heartless!

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports on Police

ISC West 2018 Access Control Rundown on Apr 06, 2018
For ISC West 2018, what is new and interesting in access control?  This rundown will bring you up to speed on the exhibitors, what they are...
30+ Emerging Tech Companies Examined on Mar 28, 2018
ISC West has a new segment for 2018: the 'Emerging Technology Zone', which they boast: Featuring 50 of the latest and greatest startup...
Audio Usage In Video Surveillance Statistics on Mar 28, 2018
Audio is more widely available and easier to use than ever, with many IP cameras building audio in and often making integration as simple as...
Chinese Police Wearing Facial Recognition Are Here on Feb 06, 2018
This is a very interesting and highly atypical usage of facial recognition that the Chinese government touted this week: It is a PRC police...
Washington DC Surveillance Hackers Arrested on Dec 29, 2017
The US Department of Justice has announced that "Two Romanian Suspects Charged With Hacking of Metropolitan Police Department Surveillance Cameras...
WSJ Investigates China's Total Surveillance State on Dec 26, 2017
The WSJ is continuing its investigation into Chinese video surveillance. Following up on last month's WSJ Investigation of Hikvision, the WSJ is...
BBC Features Dahua on Dec 13, 2017
Hikvision is not the only mega-Chinese video surveillance manufacturer getting global attention. Last month, the WSJ investigated Hikvision and now...
Panasonic Unified Surveillance Strategy Analyzed on Nov 17, 2017
Panasonic is now a "Unified Surveillance" offering, as their ASIS 2017 booth proclaimed: Looking to make a comeback in the security industry,...
WSJ Investigates Hikvision on Nov 13, 2017
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has released a detailed investigation into Hikvision's government ownership and cybersecurity problems, hitting the...
Genetec Citigraf Big Data Platform Analyzed on Oct 26, 2017
A big industry debate is whether VMS software is now a commodity. However, Genetec believes it can charge a substantial premium for higher-end...

Most Recent Industry Reports

The Yolo Bro And The Death of Journalism on Apr 24, 2018
There's an old quote: The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable Unfortunately, the opposite is more...
DMP Adds Ring Video Doorbell Integration on Apr 24, 2018
Video doorbells have become one of the hottest items for security systems. After several years with no doorbell, DMP has announced integration with...
Milestone 2017 Financials Examined on Apr 24, 2018
For ISC West 2018, Milestone released ... their financials, touting "strong revenue growth in 2017". However, there were discrepancies with the...
Chinese Manufacturer Kickstarter Campaign Huge Success (EverCam) on Apr 23, 2018
In a week, a Chinese manufacturer's expertly done Kickstarter campaign has received $1.4 million in pledges, an incredible amount for a video...
Favorite Biometrics 2018 on Apr 23, 2018
Biometrics are on the rise, or at least integrator opposition to them is declining, according to new IPVM integrator statistics.   Almost half of...
Dahua and Hikvision Win Over $1 Billion In Government-Backed Projects In Xinjiang on Apr 23, 2018
Dahua and Hikvision have won well over $1 billion worth of government-backed surveillance projects in China’s restive Xinjiang province since 2016,...
May 2018 Camera Course on Apr 20, 2018
Save $50 on early registration until this Thursday, the 26th. Register now (save $50) for the Spring 2018 Camera Course This is the only...
Global Real-Time Video Surveillance - EarthNow on Apr 20, 2018
A new company, EarthNow, with backing from Bill Gates, Airbus and more, is claiming that: Users will be able to see places on Earth with a delay...
Dedicated Vs Converged Access Control Networks (Statistics) on Apr 20, 2018
Running one's access control system on a converged network, with one's computers and phones, can save money. On the other hand, hand, doing so can...
April 2018 IP Networking Course on Apr 19, 2018
This is the last chance to register for our IP Networking course. Register now. NEW - 2 sessions per class, 'day' and 'night' to give you double...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact