New website features security cameras in Phila. and beyond

December 11, 2012 8:31:16 PM PST
The creators are hoping that for the first time, a new project will give law enforcement and the public at large a region-wide map of the locations of public and private security cameras to help combat crime.

Among the first to be listed on the new website launched Tuesday in Philadelphia are the cameras at St. Joseph's Prep in North Philadelphia.

It's called Community Cam, and it's accessible through www.videosurveillance.com/communitycam.

The map of public and private security cameras is crowdsourced, which means that any resident, business owner, association, neighborhood group or government organization can add locations of cameras to help their neighbors.

The developers at videosurveillance.com say people who experience crime can use the map to locate cameras that may have captured the activity and ask their neighbors for help.

"To be clear, this service does not allow for access to surveillance footage," said videosurveillance.com president Josh Daniels. "Nor is any of the information that is uploaded in any way privately accessible to anyone."

All a person, business or agency has to do is list the address of the camera. No names or other information is required.

"It's a free service that uses publicly accessible internet technology," said Daniels. "There is no cost to use the service."

Father Jeff Puttholf is among the first to list cameras on the website. He's listed those on the campus of St. Joseph's Prep at 17th and Girard.

He's also listed cameras where he works, at Hopeworks Youth Development in the 500 block of State Road in Camden, NJ.

"We actually have cameras on our building that actually caught a crime one time," said Father Puttholf. "The police used it to apprehend someone, and the idea was, is it possible to use the other camera's on the block to sort of form a zone of safety?"

Father Puttholf thinks that when public and private surveillance cameras work together, there is a better chance of police being able to catch criminals.

Josh Daniels thinks neighbors and businesses working together to help each other will help make cities and town safe.

"Our hope is that we can prove this concept in a large city like Philadelphia with a grassroots movement," he said, "and that we can take it to other cities in the U.S. and hopefully internationally."

At last count, 66 cameras have been listed on the website in the Philadelphia region.

While Philadelphia is the first dedicated Community Cam city, other people across the country can start adding their cameras immediately.


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