Privately Owned Public Camera Network

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Aug 29, 2013

Grant funding is drying up, but the need for technology is not. Cities are getting creative when it comes to finding new ways to fund surveillance systems. Some are looking at adopt-a-camera programs or leasing systems. But more often, they are combing public funds with money from grants or local associations to buy a system owned by the city.

In the case of one California city, however, the local business associations funded the entire system, making it a privately owned, public surveillance system. This raises very serious questions about fair contracting and the use of the system. In this note, we dig into the details and issues.

Background

The Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Downtown Long Beach Associates, the local business associations paid $300,000 to Platt Security for a surveillance system that would be monitored by the Long Beach Police Department. 

“The cameras will be compatible with the Long Beach Police Department’s Long Beach Common Operating Picture System (LB COPS). LB COPS allows LBPD to tap into a network of public and private cameras throughout the city to aide in capturing and convicting criminals,” according to a press release from the visitor’s bureau [link no longer available].

The LB COPS network already includes more than 400 cameras across the city. Long Beach police only have “a few dozen” of its own cameras, according to the L.A. Times. 

What We Know About the System

The system is comprised 60 cameras (a mix of fixed and PTZ) that will be integrated with 23 existing cameras. It will run Genetec software operate on a KBC wireless network

The system was put up for private bid to companies selected by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, however because the organization is a private entity, those bidding documents and contract are not public information. 

The integrator was willing to provide basic information about the system, but declined further details, noting the contract was private, and he was asked not to disclose the terms of the contract. 

The system will be “gifted” to the LBPD, but it is owed by private entities. Installation will begin September 1 and officials say it will be the largest camera deployment the city has ever seen. 

Issues

Technical 

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

The integrator, Platt Security, run by a former Long Beach police detective, seems to be your typical local dealer. They specialize in guard services and installing Honeywell and GE Interlogix alarm systems, but how qualified are they to install higher-end systems or a citywide mesh system? Indeed, because of the non public contracting process, it is likely no one will ever know what criteria was used, what similar scale references were checked or whether there were lower cost / better alternatives.

Contractual 

The contract and scope of work for this public system will indefinitely remain private. Police have said in the past that they would only access private cameras live if there was an ongoing incident, but where does this system fall? Public or private? It is owned by private entities, but operated by a public one. 

The practice raises many questions, including what rules apply to the system surrounding use, storage and access. Would city guidelines apply (only viewing where a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy) or would these cameras be exempt from typical 4th Amendment protections? How long would they store video? Would storage regulations even apply? Is the police department or the business association in charge of maintenance? Cameras are only effective when they are maintained.

The closed RFP process of this project leaves the city to the mercy of what the Visitors Bureau decides to provide based on whatever specifications it decided. Even for governments the contracting process is not perfect, but they at least have transparent guidelines for vetting bidders and cost analysis that can be examined. 

The Long Beach visitors bureau declined comment on the purchase saying, “Thank you for reaching out to us, but we currently do not need any more publicity then what we currently have.”

Comments (2) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Police

Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Oct 17, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
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...
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...
Suprema Biometric Mass Leak Examined on Aug 19, 2019
While Suprema is rarely discussed even within the physical security market, the South Korean biometrics manufacturer made global news this past...
Biometrics Usage Statistics 2019 on Aug 13, 2019
Biometrics are commonly used in phones, but how frequently are they used for access? 150+ integrators told us how often they use biometrics,...
Embattled $400 Million China Funded Philippines Surveillance System Proceeds on Jun 13, 2019
An embattled 12,000 camera surveillance system project that will cost ~$400 million will proceed. The project contract was awarded, had its...
China Jaywalking Facial Recognition Guide on May 27, 2019
News reports touting the PRC's AI prowess often showcase facial recognition cameras being used to automatically catch and fine jaywalkers. In...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
Amazon Ring Public Subsidy Program Aims To Dominate Residential Security on May 20, 2019
Amazon dominates market after market. Quitely, but increasingly, they are doing so in residential security, through a combination of significant...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Government-Owned Hikvision Wants To Keep Politics Out Of Security on Oct 21, 2019
'Politics' made Hikvision the goliath it is today. It was PRC China 'politics' that created Hikvision, funded it, and blocked its foreign...
Integrated IR Camera Usage Statistics 2019 on Oct 21, 2019
Virtually every IP camera now comes with integrated IR but how many actually make use of IR or choose 'super' low light cameras without IR? In...
Alarm Veteran "Demands A Criminal Investigation" Of UL on Oct 18, 2019
The Interceptor's Project pressure against UL continues to rise. Following Keith Jentoft's allegation that "UL Has Blood On Their Hands", Jentoft...
Camect "Worlds Smartest Camera Hub" Tested on Oct 18, 2019
Camect is a Silicon Valley startup that claims the "Smartest AI Object Detection On The Market", detecting not only people and vehicles, but...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Oct 17, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Camera Calculator V3.1 Release Improves User Experience on Oct 17, 2019
IPVM has released a new version of our Camera Calculator, V3.1, with significant user experience improvements, a new development plan, and an...
Securing Access Control Installations Tutorial on Oct 17, 2019
The physical security of access control components is critical to ensuring that a facility is truly secure. Otherwise, the entire system can be...
Access Control Course Fall 2019 - Last Chance on Oct 17, 2019
Register Now - Fall 2019 Access Control Course. Thursday, October 17th is the last day to register. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access...
US DoD Comments on Huawei, Hikvision, Dahua Cyber Security Concerns on Oct 16, 2019
A senior DoD official said the US is "concerned" with the cybersecurity of Hikvision, Dahua, and Huawei due to "CCP" (China Communist Party)...
Pelco Sarix Pro3 Camera Tested on Oct 16, 2019
Pelco has released their Sarix Professional Series 3 cameras, claiming "more security detail in challenging scenes with excellent low light and...