As New Haven and the New Haven Police Department (NHPD) look to stay current in their efforts to monitor and fight crime, they’ve turned to a company producing software that allows departments across the world new ways to manage their surveillance technology.
The city recently starting using software produced by Milestone Systems, which aims to help cities like New Haven, as well as private companies, integrate complex systems of camera technology.
New Haven’s got a lot of surveillance footage to keep track of, with the vast majority of it in schools. As the New Haven Register reported on June 25, New Haven has thousands of surveillance cameras within its borders: about 4,000 in schools, and 200 more in other areas.
The city acquired these cameras over the course of more than a decade. Since 2000, a variety of grants — many of them federal funding — have allowed the city to purchase cameras to install at traffic stops, in schools and elsewhere.
According to the Register, the cameras have largely been used to this point to study traffic patterns, monitor public parks and track weather. Increasingly, though, the NHPD and the fire department have used footage from the cameras for investigations.
Organizing New Haven’s Cameras and Footage
Clearly, New Haven’s cameras are used for different purposes in diverse corners of the city, and they’re used by multiple departments of the city’s government. Until recently, though, the city lacked a centralized system that would allow it to monitor all of the cameras.
This is the problem the city is aiming to solve with Milestone Systems. The city recently contracted with the company, which designs software products aimed at helping clients manage large surveillance camera systems.
“We develop software (and some NVRs [network video recorders]) for managing the video data, controlling strict access to the systems, viewing live video and receiving alerts and archiving footage for investigation and evidence to resolve issues,” says Courtney Dillon Pederson, a representative from the company.
Beyond that, the company strives to be flexible and adaptive, so their products “integrate with systems and devices from other companies to create innovative solutions in all industries.”
Milestone’s products have become relatively widespread; the Register notes that Yale and Bridgeport and Hartford also use the software. The company’s website, meanwhile, touts the use of its technology in cities from California to Denmark.
The company acclaims its city surveillance system’s ability to integrate a wide variety of technologies into one system that is intuitive to use. The software also comes with other features: For example, it can read license plates to help locate stolen vehicles or track down parking violations. It can also be used in conjunction with gunshot detection technology, like the Shotspotter system New Haven began using earlier this year.
Easy to Control and Access
Pederson added that the technology has the potential to be used in other unexpected areas, too — things like tracking food hygiene or environmental issues.
The software has the potential to help avoid some of the pitfalls of surveillance technology that have proven particularly controversial, like the potential for abuse or security concerns. For example, it can help users control who can access the video by giving different classes of users different credentials, so officials have access to the relevant information they need but not all of the city’s footage.
The early reviews from city employees are positive. Maggie Targove — the deputy director of information management at New Haven’s Office of Emergency Management — praised the system’s completeness and ease of use in an interview with the Register.
“Everything is right here. It’s easy to use, easy to control everything, to access, and to share with other Milestone users,” she said to the Register.