Philadelphia SafeCam Pays You To Install Cameras

By: 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 Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

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

Camera Focusing Tutorial on Oct 14, 2019
Camera focus is fundamental to quality imaging. Mistakes can significantly reduce details, making cameras less effective. In this guide, we...
Last Chance - Register Now - October 2019 IP Networking Course on Oct 10, 2019
Last Chance - Register Now - Fall 2019 IP Networking Course. The course starts next week. This is the only networking course designed...
Camera Cable Whip Guide on Oct 02, 2019
Cable whips are one of integrator's least favorite camera features but seem to be unavoidable, now commonplace on dome, turret, and bullet cameras...
Critiquing Carnegie's AI Surveillance Paper on Sep 25, 2019
The Carnegie Endowment has issued an ambitious paper on the Global Expansion of AI Surveillance. While its aim is applaudable, the paper has...
Directory of 70 Video Surveillance Startups on Sep 18, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Schmode is Back, Aims To Turn Boulder AI Into Giant on Sep 16, 2019
One of the most influential and controversial executives in the past decade is back. Bryan Schmode ascended and drove the hypergrowth of Avigilon...
Installation Course - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 12, 2019
Last Chance - Register Now - September 2019 Video Surveillance Install Course. Thursday, September 12th is your last chance to register for the...
Genetec Stratocast VSaaS Tested on Sep 05, 2019
The VSaaS market is rapidly expanding in 2019, with Verkada, Meraki, Eagle Eye, Avigilon and numerous startups growing their market share. When we...
UK Facewatch GDPR Compliance Questioned on Aug 27, 2019
Even as the GDPR strictly regulates biometrics, a UK company called Facewatch is selling anti-shoplifter facial recognition systems to hundreds of...
ZK Teco Atlas Access Control Tested on Aug 20, 2019
Who needs access specialists? China-based ZKTeco claims its newest access panel 'makes it very easy for anyone to learn and install access control...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Axis HD Analog Encoder Tested on Oct 11, 2019
Two years after declaring "Everything is IP", Axis has released their first HD analog encoder, the P7304, with support for AHD, CVI, TVI, and SD...
Dahua Celebrates PRC 70th Wearing Communist Party Hammer and Sickle on Oct 11, 2019
Dahua celebrated the PRC's 70th anniversary with a video of various Dahua employees wearing China Communist Party hammer and sickle pins as shown...
Last Chance - Register Now - October 2019 IP Networking Course on Oct 10, 2019
Last Chance - Register Now - Fall 2019 IP Networking Course. The course starts next week. This is the only networking course designed...
Network Optix NxWitness 4.0 Tested on Oct 10, 2019
Network Optix released Nx Witness 4.0, proclaiming new features like a deep learning analytics metadata SDK, increased H.265 support, and UX...
HID Fingerprint Reader Tested on Oct 09, 2019
HID has released their first access reader to use Lumidigm optical sensors, that touts it 'works with anyone, anytime, anywhere'. We bought and...
ONVIF Suspends Dahua and Hikvision on Oct 09, 2019
Dahua and Hikvision have been 'suspended', and effectively expelled, from ONVIF, immediately following US sanctions being placed on the 2 mega...
Hikvision And Dahua Sanctioned For Human Rights Abuses on Oct 07, 2019
In a groundbreaking move that will have drastic consequences across the video surveillance market, Dahua and Hikvision have been sanctioned by the...
Avigilon H5A Analytic Cameras Tested on Oct 07, 2019
Avigilon has released its H5A analytic cameras, claiming to "detect more objects with greater accuracy even in crowded scenes." We tested the...
Crisis At China's Largest VMS Provider, Netposa, Now State-Controlled on Oct 07, 2019
NetPosa, which bills itself as the PRC's largest VMS provider, is in a crisis. The firm is pursuing huge unpaid bills from clients, and its...
Knightscope Sells Just 1 Net New Robot In 6 Months on Oct 04, 2019
For the first half of 2019, US government records show that Knightscope has sold just 1 net new robots ('machines-in-network'), inching up from 52...