Surveillance cameras have become a popular security feature for a number of homes and businesses throughout the world. We live in an era where nearly everything is caught on camera.
According to Technology IHS, there were approximately 245 million professionally installed video surveillance cameras active and operational globally in 2014. The number was forecasted to face a 13.7 percent growth rate between 2014 and 2017.
The Phoenix Police Department launched a new crime-fighting program called “Virtual BlockWatch” in March 2017. The idea was to use residents’ registered personal home security cameras to monitor areas of Phoenix when a call was made in reporting a crime. The program has had a lot of positive feedback since its first trial in Maryvale neighborhood in Phoenix.
A pin map is provided to detectives of locations around Phoenix where residents and businesses have registered their personal security cameras that have 24/7 surveillance recording.
“We are looking to take this video footage and reduce the time between the commission of a crime and the identification and arrest of a suspect in a crime,” Sgt. Vincent Lewis of Phoenix Police said.
Camera footage acts as a virtual witness. An average American citizen can be caught on camera more than 70 times a day, according to Phoenix PD.
Market research firm IMS reported in 2007 that 30 million surveillance cameras were sold post 9/11 and the surveillance market has grown into a $3.2 billion industry.
“Not a bad idea considering its a voluntary service, but I’ll think twice about keeping my camera on before skinny-dipping in my pool,” Phoenix resident George Stinson said via Facebook.
A large number of Phoenix residents had an overwhelmingly positive response to the news, especially in the precinct in which the program was first enacted.
“Maryvale has a higher crime rate than most areas in Phoenix. In order to get a program in place it makes sense to go where there is a lot of criminal activity,” Phoenix resident Magdalena Arenas said. “Just think of Maryvale as a low-end Compton of Arizona,” Maria Flores added.
The program has expanded citywide due to popular demand. Lewis shared in a later interview with ABC15 that more than 70 people have registered their cameras with police.
“The program is our starting point; it’s a pin-map for us to look at these locations and make a connection for serious crimes. It is in no way intrusive and offers the police department a line between the community and ourselves,” Lewis said, “We do not have live access to home systems and we are not interested in establishing that action through this program. We keep voluntary information private as a means of protecting anyone involved in solving a crime.”
Registration is a simple three-step process and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Once residents submit their basic information and the angles in which their cameras are facing, a member of the department will start the verification process and confirm said registration.
The business or home participating in the program will receive a decal to display in their window and will only be contacted by the Phoenix Police Department in the future if there is a criminal incident in the vicinity of the camera, according to the department’s website.
“We are taking advantage of this boost in technology. Cameras are everywhere and those recording will catch crimes in progress. Home and business owners can now actively help police solve crimes,” Lewis said.
Resident security cameras can be registered at: https://www.phoenix.gov/police/virtualblockwatch