Philadelphia SafeCam Pays You To Install Cameras

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 02, 2013

In a time of declining government funding, one U.S. city is bucking the trend. Believe it or not, they are going to pay up to half the cost of installing new cameras. What's the catch and what's in it for them? We talked to the city and reviewed its program focused on getting more businesses to install surveillance systems.

The City of Philadelphia is reimbursing businesses for half the cost of new surveillance systems as long as businesses register their cameras with SafeCam, the police department's public safety camera network. SafeCam allows police to determine what cameras are in the vicinity of a crime. From there, they can contact the owner to get access to stored video.

The city will reimburse business owners 50% of the total cost up to $3,000 for a new surveillance system on a single property, but only exterior cameras qualify. This is an important limitation because typically local businesses deploy most of their cameras indoors. 

Rationale

The grant program was developed at the request of the mayor because of the negative impact crime was having on the city's commerce. The city hopes that incentivizing camera deployments, a joint venture between the Philadelphia Commerce Department and the police department, will help them solve and prevent crimes.

The city previously spent $16 million trying to set up its own camera network, but it has had problems from the start. If the SafeCam program can reach its goal to add cameras to around 200 businesses, that would be more functional surveillance cameras than the city has.

Eligibility

All businesses city-wide are eligible to participate in the program, but there are a few guidelines for a set-up to be eligible for reimbursement.

  • The cameras can be IP or analog camera connected to a networked based DVR, mounted outside of the building and show a clear, unobstructed view.
  • DVRs must have a dedicated channel for each camera in operation, record at least 15fps and store for 15+ days.
  • The total cost eligible for reimbursement is limited to parts, installation and camera licenses.

The city prefers businesses put the funds toward new surveillance equipment, but it will accept applications from businesses that want to upgrade to meet the requirements. Here is the full list of specifications.

Philadelphia has set aside $400,000 for the program.  

To apply, the city says businesses should send photos showing where they want to install the cameras and estimates from two contractors that include camera specifications. If approved, the city sends an award letter specifying the amount of reimbursement and the business can proceed with the purchase and installation.

After installation, cameras must be registered online with the SafeCam program.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

For now, the police won’t be watching any of the cameras live. The Philadelphia Police Department says it will only access archived footage related to criminal activity and it will never "utilize any information obtained to view footage/feeds directly from cameras owned by registrants." 

However, “requiring that cameras be IP-enabled paves the way for police to [eventually] have real-time access to video feed,” says Karen Lockhart Fegely, Director of Neighborhood Economic Development. 

Program Interest 

The city recently launched a media campaign to generate interest in the program. Thirteen businesses have applied since it began in March. Four of those applications have already been approved and one installation is complete. The city would not estimate how many cameras it will add, but says it hopes to provide funding to around 200 businesses.

"This is a pilot program. The outcomes of this program will be considered to determine whether additional funding is budgeted for its continuation," Fegely said.

IPVM Analysis

Cities spend a lot of money on surveillance and it's very expensive per camera -- $10,000 - $20,000 is not uncommon. With all Philadelphia's problems, the city's own cameras came out to be about $136,000 per functioning camera.

SafeCame gives the city a network of cameras for a fraction of the cost of doing it themselves, however, officials were unable to outline a clear strategy on how it would access the cameras live in the future.

Connecting to those cameras is going to be extremely problematic. How are they going to access the cameras over the Internet? How are they going to securely access cameras on 100 different networks that are behind firewalls? They can open up holes in firewalls, which is a clear security risk, or they could set up VPNs to each business, which is costly and complex plus may bring objections from the owners as well.

Another problem is being able to communicate / interface with so many different systems as businesses will obviously select many different platforms. If the city ever wants to watch cameras live, they will have to integrate with lots of different cameras and recorders. Even a PSIM will not be able to solve this unless they pay for expensive custom integrations with all the different random systems deployed at each business.

The city paid 80-90% less for a surveillance network, but the system maybe be 80-90% less functional because they're going to have a hard time putting together a way to access all of the cameras.

1 report cite this report:

US Capital Paying for Homes and Business to Get Security Cameras on Feb 09, 2016
Since 9/11, US cities have spent hundreds of millions collectively on city-wide video surveillance system. Now, the US Capital, has an interesting...
Comments (2): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

The Hot RMR Company - Electric Guard Dog on Feb 22, 2017
The financiers at the Barnes Buchanan conference praised a company named 'Electric Guard Dog'. While the name sounds fairly low tech, the money and...
Washington DC MPD's Surveillance Equipment on Feb 21, 2017
The Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department's surveillance system was hacked in January 2017. Two immediate questions were: Whose...
Customized Access Control Cans (Altronix Trove) on Feb 14, 2017
Access control installs typically require hanging at least two or three different enclosure cans, each holding individual parts.  Open wall space...
Tyco DSC PowerSeries Neo Intrusion Tested on Jan 30, 2017
Tyco's intrusion system line, DSC, is one of the most widely installed brands. Their primary intrusion panel series, PowerSeries Neo, is...
Wires for Burglar Alarms on Jan 26, 2017
Most commercial and many higher end residential alarm systems rely on wired sensors. These require installers to run wires between the sensor and a...
Integrator Service Vehicle Guide on Jan 23, 2017
Few assets are as commonly used by integrators and installers as their service vehicles. 125 integrators explained to IPVM in detail about their...
Smart Power Tools For Security Installs on Jan 18, 2017
Installing a smart camera? Perhaps you should use a 'smart' drill. The intelligent appliance / IoT trend has hit power tools. In this note, we...
IP Networking Course January 2017 on Jan 12, 2017
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Honeywell Ademco Vista Intrusion System Tested on Jan 11, 2017
One of the biggest brands in security holds one of the most common intrusion lines. We bought and tested a Honeywell Vista 15P intrusion...
Introduction To Burglar Alarm Systems on Jan 04, 2017
While alarm systems are popular, balancing between the right level of protection, the appropriate components and an acceptable price can be very...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Honeywell Sues Alarm.com For Violating Anti-Trust Laws on Feb 24, 2017
Is Alarm.com about to dominate the smart home software market? That is what Honeywell alleges in its new lawsuit, first reported by...
Axis: "Everything is IP" - False on Feb 24, 2017
Axis is congratulating itself, with executive Fredrick Nilsson declaring: "Now the conversion is all done and everything is IP and analog is...
Advertising Like Avigilon at the ISC West Airport on Feb 24, 2017
Avigilon has grabbed a lot of attention over the last few years advertising at the Las Vegas airport when attendees fly in. But how does that...
Artificial Intelligence Robot Assistant (ACTi) on Feb 23, 2017
Has artificial intelligence come to the video surveillance industry? ACTi has released 'SARA' which it bills as an 'AI assistant that brings...
Cutting Costs 70% Using Milestone With HD Analog on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog and enterprise VMSes are often thought of as being on opposite sides of the spectrum, with HD analog best for small jobs due to its low...
Dahua 4K HD Analog Cameras Announced on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog has been gaining popularity (even if Axis hopes otherwise). Last year, HD analog's max resolution doubled from 1080p to 4MP (see our 4MP...
Uniview (UNV) IP Cameras Tested on Feb 22, 2017
"We're #3," in China says Uniview (UNV). While the company significantly trails Hikvision and Dahua in total sales, one notable difference is that...
Glass Doors and Access Control Tutorial on Feb 22, 2017
The biggest challenge for many access control systems are glass doors. Here's what happens when a maglock is improperly installed to an existing...
Exacq Favorability Results on Feb 22, 2017
For years, Exacq has been one of the most frequently favored VMSes in IPVM integrator statistics (e.g., see Favorite VMS Manufacturers...
The Hot RMR Company - Electric Guard Dog on Feb 22, 2017
The financiers at the Barnes Buchanan conference praised a company named 'Electric Guard Dog'. While the name sounds fairly low tech, the money and...

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