Sandy Springs police officers soon will be able to see what’s happening all over town via their patrol car laptops.
The city is improving its camera surveillance capability with Iron Sky, a system that will integrate video and photo feeds from existing traffic and public security cameras and send them to a central “intelligence center.”
Authorized users will be able to access the images from home computers or laptops, said Lt. David Roskind, commander of the police crime analysis unit. Eventually, officers may be able to look at the video feed through smart phones, he said.
Roskind said the system will deter crime and help officers figure out how to respond when a crime is observed on video. The system should go live at the end of June.
Iron Sky, a Houston-based company, has already contracted with several metro-Atlanta cities such as Duluth, Decatur and Norcross, as well as Midtown Atlanta.
One feature of the system will scan license tags and automatically identify stolen cars or other suspicious vehicles, Roskind said. For instance, if a car registered to a sex criminal were spotted at a city park, officers would be alerted.
“We’re letting technology work for us,” Roskind said.
Sandy Springs doesn’t plan to buy any new cameras at first. Traffic and Sandy Springs City Hall cameras will supply most of the video. Patrol car videos will be part of the feed once the current car cameras are replaced.
The city plans to spend about $447,500 for 62 patrol car video systems this year and $112,000 for 18 extra units next fiscal year. The city will also pay about $182,000 to equip the intelligence center — where officers will study the myriad video feeds — and $179,000 for an emergency operations center.
Much of the money will come from drug forfeiture funds. General funds will pay for some of the emergency operations center, Roskind said.
In the first phase, the city will integrate traffic and public camera feeds into the computer-assisted display units. Next, the city will connect the new car camera systems. Finally, the city will seek schools and private companies that want to link up.
College Park has contracted with Iron Sky for about three years, said Ernie Rochester, the College Park police training officer. He said the camera helped the city in prostitution stings as well as code enforcement cases. When people put up illegal signs on street corners, the city can identify and prosecute them. “The cameras are paying off,” he said.
Roskind said officers watching the camera feeds will not be looking out of curiosity. They will be guided by “triggers,” such as 911 calls or suspicious activity. Complaints about being watched could be checked out because the videos will record dispatchers’ activity, he said.