Eye in the sky to change the tenor in downtown

The first downtown eye in the sky, which is hooked up to the
communications center in the police department, is there to help
prevent and, hopefully, solve crimes.
The first downtown eye in the sky, which is hooked up to the communications center in the police department, is there to help prevent and, hopefully, solve crimes.

Police Chief Denise Turner says that to her knowledge it’s the first time a public-private partnership has been formed to facilitate such a project. Funding for the sophisticated digital cameras – more are on the way – is coming from the Downtown Business Association and the city.

By all accounts, the camera is a powerful machine which can be manipulated with a joystick to zoom and made to rotate. Though it won’t be manned or manipulated by personnel in the dispatch center on a full-time basis, Chief Turner says the expectation is that when times are slow in the com center, personnel will keep a hand on the joystick and an eye on what’s going on downtown.

That could lead to pre-emptive police deployment and quicker, depending on the circumstances, response times.

The partnership is a good for Gilroy. Not only will the camera provide a realistic look at what’s going on downtown and that footage should help the ongoing dialogue between business owners and police.

Chief Turner also says the PD will accept public requests to review images, which will be stored for one year, on the cameras. She also said the the PD is not opposed to opening the cameras to the public via the web. The problem with doing that now is that there’s not enough bandwidth associated with the cameras to allow public access. Transmission speeds to the PD cannot afford to be slow.

The bandwidth problem, however, can be solved within the current infrastructure downtown but requires some further work. It’s being looked into. It makes sense that the more eyes on downtown the better, and there’s no overriding reason to deny access once the transmission lines are amplified. Full access views to the car show or wine stroll are good marketing tools.

There should be some signs up letting people know that they’re being protected by cameras. It’s a bit strange to think of how often our every moves are filmed, but it’s better in most cases to be safe than sorry.

If downtown is safer for having cameras, whether it’s perception or reality or both, hook them up and put them to good use.

Leave your comments