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 (1) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Installation Hardware for Video Surveillance - Indoor Fasteners on Jun 22, 2018
As part of our Installation for Video Surveillance series, in this note, we cover drywall anchors. A key part of installing security hardware is...
Last Chance - Save $50 - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jun 21, 2018
Today, Thursday the 21st is the last chance to save $50 on registration. Register now and save. This is the only networking course designed...
Cybersecurity Startup VDOO Disclosing 10 Manufacturer Vulnerabilities Starting With Axis And Foscam on Jun 20, 2018
Cybersecurity startup VDOO has uncovered significant vulnerabilities in Axis cameras along with many others not yet disclosed. In this report, we...
Four Major Outdoor Camera Install Problems on Jun 14, 2018
Over 140 integrators told us the top four camera installation mistakes that lead to unexpected problems and failures. Their comments often...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...
Worst Features for Camera Installation (Statistics) on Jun 07, 2018
4 clear worst features for installing were identified by 140+ integrator respondents to: What feature(s) make a camera hard to install? The...
Top Features For Easy Camera Installation (Statistics) on Jun 05, 2018
Camera installation is the most fundamental and common task for video security technicians. Because of this, camera manufacturers market their...
French National Police Buy 10,400 Hikvision Body Cameras on May 31, 2018
France’s national police forces bought 10,400 Hikvision body cameras earlier this year, in a high-profile deal that’s coming into effect as the...
Installing Box Cameras Indoors Tutorial on May 22, 2018
This tutorial starts our physical installation for video surveillance series, starting with Box Cameras, one of the oldest and most basic types....
Installing Cameras in Plenums Tutorial on May 15, 2018
There is often confusion about plenum ceilings, with misinformation about what is required when running cables through them and mounting cameras...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Installation Hardware for Video Surveillance - Indoor Fasteners on Jun 22, 2018
As part of our Installation for Video Surveillance series, in this note, we cover drywall anchors. A key part of installing security hardware is...
Hikvision ColorVu Integrated Visible Light Cameras Examined on Jun 22, 2018
When it comes to low light, infrared light has become the defacto standard in surveillance. But IR is limited to monochrome images, making colors...
Last Chance - Save $50 - July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jun 21, 2018
Today, Thursday the 21st is the last chance to save $50 on registration. Register now and save. This is the only networking course designed...
'Secure Channel' OSDP Access Control Examined on Jun 21, 2018
Despite claiming to be better than Wiegand, OSDP's initial releases did not address the lack of encryption between reader and controller, leaving...
Most Wanted Improvements In Manufacturer Technical Support (Statistics) on Jun 21, 2018
5 key areas of improvement and 1 clear wanted support feature were voiced by 140+ integrator responses to: What improvement in manufacturer...
GDPR / ICO Complaint Filed Against IFSEC Show Facial Recognition on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM has filed a complaint against IFSEC’s parent company UBM based on our concern that the conference violates core GDPR principles on...
IFSEC 2018 Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM attended the IFSEC show for the first time this year. The Chinese have taken over the UK, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and...
Mobotix Releases 'Move' Into 21st Century on Jun 20, 2018
For years, Mobotix stood resolutely against, well, every other manufacturer, selling it as a virtue: MOBOTIX equipment is designed with no...
Cybersecurity Startup VDOO Disclosing 10 Manufacturer Vulnerabilities Starting With Axis And Foscam on Jun 20, 2018
Cybersecurity startup VDOO has uncovered significant vulnerabilities in Axis cameras along with many others not yet disclosed. In this report, we...
Axis Guardian - Cloud VMS And Alarm Monitoring - Released on Jun 19, 2018
Axis has struggled to deliver a cloud-based managed service video platform. Video service providers have utilized AVHS for over a decade, and have...

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