Crime website pushes forward online security map


CommunityCam relies on the community's efforts to add security camera locations on its website




As security cameras keep watch for Philadelphia crime, a new website keeps track of the cameras.

CommunityCam, launched last month by search engine optimization firm SEER Interactive and online security equipment retailer VideoSurveillance.com, is an online crowd-sourced map showing the locations of private and public security cameras in Philadelphia.

The aim of the website is to help victims of crime by allowing them to locate whether there is a security camera nearby that may have captured the process of the crime on tape, Videosurveillance.com said in a press release.

Although Philadelphia is the first city to have its own CommunityCam website, the company is planning to expand to different cities across the country.

Currently, there are around 80 cameras reported on the map, of which 14 are located on or near the Penn campus. The security cameras that have been located on the map are mainly concentrated near Walnut, Chestnut and Sansom Streets. One such reported security camera is located at 38th and Walnut streets, where a Penn student was robbed last December.

CommunityCam relies on the efforts of members of the community to add security camera locations on its website. After signing into a personal Google account, Internet users can directly add markers on the map to indicate the positions of interior or exterior security cameras spotted within the city.

This is not the first time crowdsourcing has been used to assist security efforts in the city. The Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia Fire Department both have Facebook and Twitter pages for members of the community to submit tips. In addition, the police department launched a mobile site last April for people to send in tips, images and videos on criminal or suspicious activity.

Video footage is also increasingly being utilized to identify criminals and subsequently make arrests. When video footage of a suspect is released through social media, there is a 39 percent chance of an arrest, the Philadelphia Police Department reported on its website.

Moreover, as of last October, 100 criminals have been arrested through the department’s efforts in utilizing social media and YouTube to collect information on suspects from the Philadelphian community.

Division of Public Safety does not rule out the possibility of utilizing crowdsourcing projects to assist its efforts in maintaining safety around the campus.

“If we had a situation [in which] we felt it would be useful, we’d use it,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

As CommunityCam is a relatively new initiative, its potential for helping victims of crime identify suspects and increasing security on campus, as well as within the city, is still uncertain.

“I don’t really not feel safe now,” College freshman Max Tromanhauser said. “I think for a lot of people it would be useful, just not for me.”

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