The Atlanta police have high hopes for their city-wide surveillance camera system in both solving and deterring crimes.
Recently, police credited the 4,500-camera network for the quick arrest of a suspect accused of killing a 6-month-old boy who was shot in his car seat during a gunfight outside of a store.
The surveillance camera network, called Connect Atlanta, integrates surveillance footage with police officers’ phones or laptops from within their squad cars, allowing officers to view footage of an incident even before they get to a scene.
Police Chief Rodney Bryant declared that the system would allow police officers to more efficiently gather and review evidence and ultimately make more arrests.
Officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the department partnered with Georgia-based tech company Fusus to build a new software that allows police to seamlessly access camera feeds in real time.
Fusus, established in 2019, has already rolled out similar surveillance systems with police departments across the country, including Orlando and Minneapolis. The company website states that its mission is to improve law enforcement’s operational intelligence to make communities safer.
While the department already has a video integration center that receives thousands of camera feeds from streets across the city, accessing that footage in real time is “time consuming” and not practical for officers responding to a call. Thus, Atlanta Connect brings the video integration center directly to officers’ devices.
“We’re moving from a video integration center to a real-time crime center,” Bryant explained. The police chief hopes the technology will allow his officers to be more “proactive” in responding to crimes.
Deputy Chief Michael O’Connor said that businesses and homeowners could freely register their cameras with the department to grow the network. For a fee, they can integrate their camera into the system to allow police to have immediate access to their video recordings.
O’Connor said he hopes the technology will not only help solve crimes but prevent them from happening in the first place.
“It’s not going to be tomorrow. It may not even be next year. But over time, it’s going to be so hard to do anything where you’re not seen by one of these surveillance systems. It’s getting harder and harder to do something and get away with it,” he said.
According to O’Connor, busy areas like Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Lenox Square cameras are already integrated into the network. The fee to integrate cameras into police real-time surveillance depends on the number of cameras and how much data is stored.
In addition, the new technology compiles all surveillance feeds into a single location, regardless of what kind of camera captured the footage.
“We can literally integrate any type of camera that anybody owns. We’ve been successful in getting private entities to share their cameras with us … and we expect this is going to be a very robust system in a very short amount of time,” O’Connor explained.
The officer was optimistic that by next year, 30,000 businesses across the city would integrate their security cameras with Atlanta Connect, making accessing footage much more efficient.
“What would have taken going out, knocking on doors and requesting that kind of video can be done within seconds,” he said. For camera systems that are registered but not integrated, police will still be able to reach out right away to request footage.
“It’s connected to our dispatch, so that gives us the proactive ability to immediately see the cameras related to calls as they come in and relay that information to officers,” he said. “That’s going to be a game-changer for us.”
Atlanta police say the software did not cost the city anything and was paid for fully by the police department.