Philadelphia’s video surveillence system questioned

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, some are questioning whether Philadelphia has enough surveillance cameras to keep the city safe.

Philadelphia has about 200 of its own video cameras along with about 1,800 from partner agencies at the Real Time Crime Center in the Police Administration building. About 90 percent of those are functional at any time.

City Council President Darrell Clarke says he’s concerned that’s not enough.

“If an incident like that happened in London, they would have been immediately able to identify those individuals, the perpetrators, or have a much enhanced opportunity to see suspicious activities.

“Because the cameras in London are real time,” Clarke said. “I understand in Boston they are pulling the feed off of private cameras.”

Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz is putting together a report on the city’s video cameras. And, he says, it’s not very good.

“There’s often a gap between high hopes in Philadelphia and the execution of it, Butkovitz said Tuesday. “And unfortunately, as will be clear in about two or three weeks [when the report is ready], we’re still seeing a problem with performance.”

Michael Resnick, Philadelphia’s director of public safety, says the city is integrating feeds constantly to improve the system through what’s called the “wisdom portal.”

“When a call comes into 911, it automatically brings up the camera closest to that call,” Resnick explained. “It can also provide information on previously related incidents.”

The Delaware Valley Intelligence Center recently went online in South Philadelphia, bringing federal, state and local law enforcement together under one roof.

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