Result of Neighborhood Security Camera Pilot

We have just finished the pilot installation of our Neighborhood Security Camera solution.

Pilot Requirements
Pilot had to uncover if it would be possible to make a solution that could satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Be Legal
  2. Be affordable (both Startup and Maintenance)
  3. Installed by the neighborhood members themselves not professionals
  4. Store the recording in the ‘Cloud’ to allow distributed access
  5. Evidence quality recordings that would allow manual reading of license plates Day and Night.
  6. Determine which software should be used for review of the recordings.

The Process
We have evaluated a number of cameras, low cost, medium cost and high cost. The cameras were tested in live setup in our neighborhoods under a number of conditions both day and night, rain and shine  and the famous Oakland hills fog.

The Surveillance of public space presented a number of legal and practical challenges that we had to address.

The distributed nature of a residential neighborhood compared to most home and commercial installations meant that we had to solve a number of logistical challenges that had not  been solved before on a limited budget.

Conclusion

 

  • Cheap cameras don’t work at all.
  • Medium priced cameras  work during the day but not at night.
  • Only Expensive cameras work both at day and night,
  • Infrared Illuminators are required for night recordings.
  • Legal issues can be solved.
  • It is possible to coordinate recordings from multiple residences on a budget.
  • We could not find any suitable Commercial or Open Source software.
  • Cloud Storage provider is found, but not tested (due to lack of software)

Readable License plate in Thick fog. Click to enlarge. Test car - not a Criminal!

Night+Rain+Fog image of readable License plate. Click to enlarge. Actual photo

Real car driving by Camera at Night with Rain and Fog. Click to enlarge. Test car - not a criminal!

Neighborhood comes together.

Some time ago we had an serious incident in our neighborhood that was beyond the usual burglaries and car theft, it was so serious that the Neighborhood came together in a number of meetings to discuss how we could build on the existing Neighborhood Watch Program that we were members of to achieve higher security. There was a strong feeling that something should be done and a feeling of coming together.

A number of initiatives were discussed including:

  • Citizen patrol with Dogs
  • Patrols by external security companies (Armed)
  • Gated Community
  • Public space video surveillance.
  • Burglar alarms – with alarm response.
  • Motion detector lights and other Ways to harden a house.
  • Block Parties

A number of these initiatives are being or have been implemented.

Due to security and privacy concerns the exact location of our neighborhood cannot be disclosed at this time, but it is in the Oakland hills in the City of Oakland, Ca. Oakland is one of the most violent cities in the US (link CQpress City Crime Ranking 2011). Oakland Hills houses middle class neighborhoods and are frequent the target of burglars and thieves from the high crime areas of Oakland.