In North Camden, mapping broken streetlights

A team of teenagers mapping streetlights in North Camden has found that nearly 19 percent of the lamps they’ve located are not lit at night.

When the crew took a nighttime tour of the neighborhood last week, they discovered that 77 of 411 street lamps were dark, including all of the lights in Pyne Poynt Park.

The mapping crews are organized by the youth education and community action group Hopeworks ‘n Camden, which has organized similar civic-minded mapping projects using digital GIS technology.

Tarren Anderson, who directs the mapping program at Hopeworks ‘n Camden, says lights can make a big difference.

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“We associate streets being lit up with safety,” Anderson said. Studies since the 1970s have found that better street lighting can help to reduce crime.

Next week, Anderson and his mapping team plan to use their outage map to report damaged or switched off lamps to the utility company PSE&G.

Anderson added that repairing streetlights is an attainable goal for youth looking to do something good for their community.

In 2011, PSE&G installed about 50 new street lamps along State Street in North Camden and Park Boulevard in the Parkside neighborhood.

Residents said they had been lobbying the company to replace those same lamps — many vandalized for copper to sell as scrap metal — for four years.

Some had demonstrated outside of City Hall to draw attention to the issue just weeks before the new lamps were installed.

Beginning Monday, many streetlights in Pyne Point Park will be replaced as part of a major construction plan meant to revitalize the facility. Construction on the park is expected to be completed in 2014.

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