Technology is watching downtown - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Technology is watching downtown

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Some extra eyes are now on alert 24-7 in the heart of Albany to help crack down on crime.

Over the summer, the city installed a 15-camera surveillance system. The cameras come in handy for big events like Albany State University's homecoming over the weekend. City leaders say in the past few months, they've worked out some kinks to maximize their goal of keeping the city safe.

You may even not realize it, but technology is watching you downtown. Dana Cimino had no clue until we told her. "I think that's great," said Cimino.

She travels downtown often but isn't too worried about danger.  "I feel safe," said Cimino.

Albany city leaders want to increase that feeling and level of safety with 15 cameras placed strategically throughout the city's center. "From Thronateeska all the way over to the Civic Center and from Front Street all the way over to Jackson," said Albany Director of Central Services Stephen Collier.

Even though you can look up and see some of the cameras downtown, don't bother trying to hide. They can catch you doing anything, anytime. "They have an analytical component to them where even if we can't see who may be in the park, the analytics will actually alert us that there is movement, there is a human in the park," said Collier.

The $330,000 wireless system is monitored at the 911 Center. A red circle marks the spot of a moving target which makes it hard for activity to go undetected. "The cameras can be set to alert the viewer in 911 as to how many people are congregating in one area," said Collier.

The system played a key factor in watching out for trouble during Albany State University's homecoming parade this past weekend. A police officer was on hand at the 911 center to keep an extra eye out. "They can stay in constant contact with all the different officers on the ground and communicate to them as to what they see," said Collier.

Although the system is 24-7,extra attention is paid for big scheduled events in the city. City leaders can also go back and pull footage, whether it's a traffic accident or a crime. "There's that element of you never know where the camera is looking," said Collier.

Knowing someone is watching is good news to Cimino's ears. "Eases a lot of people's feelings about coming downtown knowing that they are. I never knew they were so that's something new," said Cimino.

It's something new the city hopes to keep utilizing and improving.

Police had to respond to an unruly crowd call at the Civic Center over the weekend. The cameras were not aimed there to catch the ordeal. Because of it and other trouble there, the city is working on getting a camera solely for the Civic Center with improved lighting.

The city hopes to soon add a 16th camera. They're also looking into purchasing more in the near future. An ultimate goal is to connect the system with patrol cars.  

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