Cameras in Cicero

Cicero is planning to install surveillance cameras that can stream video to squad cars.

From the trib:

Town officials listened this week to representatives of one company that has installed surveillance systems in Calumet City and Country Club Hills. The firm, South Holland-based Public Safety Communications Inc., also is in the process of installing a system in Cook County as part of its Homeland Security initiative.

One feature of the pole-mounted, wireless cameras is their portability, enabling authorities to deploy them in different areas, said company president Clarence Brownlow. The cameras can detect chemicals and have "shot spotter" sensors that zoom in on areas where gunshots are heard, Brownlow said

Cicero is looking to install the first camera in the next two months, and to eventually have three to five cameras, said Duque. He estimated the cost at $50,000 per camera, and said the town will seek federal funding to defray the expense.


City calls camera mistake 'very much a unique situation'

A story in the Sun-Times today about a mistake with Chicago's red light cameras. Apparently, there was a moving violation, but the wrong car was sent the ticket. The article provides some nice background on the cameras which cover 20 intersections in the city. The vendor for the cameras is Redflex Traffic Systems. So far the cameras have noted more than 100,000 violations in 15 months. The cameras are designed to zero in the on the license plate of the violator. System operators are suppose to verify this process. The cameras take 3 still photos and video for every ticket they generate. This video is available if a ticked is appealed.


Sentri Gunshot Cameras in Chicago

"Gangs fear camera that focuses on guns" from the Times Online

The article has some details on the gunshot detection cameras.

The cameras are known as Sentri (Smart Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and Identification). They cost $32,000 each. They can detect a gunshot within 350m and zoom in on the source. Chicago has 5 of the cameras and will add 80 more this year. Los Angeles is also testing the camera system. (In LA, TV stations are bidding to fund Sentris, because the winner will be exclusive crime stories and footage of the incidents.)

The technology was designed by Theodore Berger, director for neural engineering at the University of Southern California and co-founder of Safety Dynamics. He used neural nets to train the computers for what a 45-calibre gunfire sounds like, while ignoring other noises such as a car backfiring. He has another project working on recognizing specific words such as "explosives" in a noisy environment.

He is funded by the Office of Naval Research in Arlington. They are testing a mobile version of Sentri. The project named Gun Slinger uses a Humvee allterrain vehicle fitted with a small “listening” mast; if it detects gunfire, vehicle-mounted machineguns swivel in the direction of the sound to help soldiers to aim.


RCN settles with city for $53 mil. in cable services

From the Sun Times:

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

The City of Chicago will expand its fiber optic network, due to a settlement from RCN Cable. This settlement cam out of violations by RCN of the city's cable television ordinance.

RCN will let the city use a 388-mile fiber network for the next 75 years and to maintain and upgrade that network during the next five years. This is valued at $48.5 million. The resulting network expands the city's existing 600 miles of fiber.

According to Consumer Services Commissioner Norma Reyes, "RCN defaulted in over a dozen cities, including San Francisco and Boston. ... No other municipality has received the deal that we ... were able to negotiate. ... If they sell it, we still have the right to use this fiber. If they abandon it, it becomes our fiber".


Using Cameras in Chicago for Traffic

This story was carried by the Chicago Sun-Times

Los Angeles has long been known for its marathon traffic jams and Star Wars efforts to mitigate congestion.

. . .

Daley is in Los Angeles this week learning about that city's highly-touted traffic surveillance system.

The Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control system is a network of closed-circuit cameras and traffic-detecting devices linked to a central computer that instantly adjusts stop lights at 3,000 intersections when back-ups occur.

. . .

"It has improved traffic . . . and at this point the technology might buy you a 30 to 40 percent reduction in road delay times," he said. "Chicago, with its larger, higher-density downtown, might get a greater benefit."

. . .

The biggest piece of Daley's traffic control plan will rely on replicating the Los Angeles system, which can automatically change traffic signal times on a second-by-second basis when needed.

The system is set up so that if automatic responses don't work, workers can call up any of the system's 200 surveillance cameras to eyeball intersection problems and dispatch police or traffic officers, said John Fisher, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles department of transportation.

The system also includes street-side sensors that keep track of how traffic affects bus on-time performance.

"It works like a scanner. When a bus arrives a little late, it will automatically get an extended green light to make it through the signals and make better time," Fisher said.

. . .

Implementing a new traffic control system will be an expensive process that will take years to install, but Huberman, who oversees the Traffic Management Authority, says he expects it will "significantly reduce congestion in key parts of the city."

. . .

Currently, there are 2,900 intersections with traffic signals. Only 13 percent of them are equipped to be adjusted by a remote computer.

Traffic signals on Addison Street from the Kennedy Expressway to Wrigley Field, for instance, are controlled remotely from the Chicago Transportation Department control center when there is heavy traffic on game days.


The city already has 20 red-light cameras and 2,000 surveillance cameras -- soon to be augmented by at least 250 and maybe more, thanks to a $48 million Homeland Security grant -- linked together by a single software network.


Cameras add power to keep eye on Chicago

From the IHT:

As police specialists here can already monitor live footage from about 2,000 surveillance cameras around the city, the addition of 250 cameras under the mayor's new plan is not a great jump. The way these cameras will be used, however, involves an extraordinary technological leap.

Sophisticated new computer programs will immediately alert the police whenever anyone is seen wandering aimlessly in circles, lingering outside a public building, pulling a car onto the shoulder of a highway or leaving a package and walking away from it, on any of the cameras placed at buildings and other structures considered terrorist targets.

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