Between July 2006 and November 2006 the City of Philadelphia installed 18 CCTV cameras at various locations in the city. Two types of cameras were installed. Phases I and II saw the installation of 10 police monitored cameras at four locations. These cameras are monitored by Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) officers, and have the capacity to pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ). Phase III took place during November 2006 and saw the installation of a total of 8 PODSS cameras at 8 locations in the city. These cameras are not monitored at police headquarters, but officers can monitor video feeds wirelessly from within patrol cars in the vicinity of a camera. Furthermore the PODSS cameras record the street scene continuously on a digital hard drive. If a crime is known or suspected to have been committed within the view of a camera, police officers retrieve the hard drive manually from the camera and review the recording.
The evaluation suggests that while there appears to be a general benefit to the cameras, there were as many sites that showed no benefit of camera presence as there were locations with a noticeable impact on crime. Discussions with police commanders and camera operators may explain the disparity between the various sites. An in depth study of the dynamics of individual camera locations and the arrest patterns at these sites may also explain the findings. These conversations and research will inform a greater understanding of the best locations to place cameras, and potentially help the city get a better cost benefit return on the city’s future investment by deploying forthcoming cameras in locations that provide the best potential crime prevention benefit.
Read the Philadelphia CCTV Study