The number of homicides in Chicago fell from 598 in 2003 to 445 last year in large part due to a network of 30 cameras installed in West Side’s most dangerous neighborhoods and to a network of databases called CLEAR (Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting) that collects and analyzes law enforcement statistics and evidence.
Plans are underway to expand the network to include over 2,000 private and public surveillance cameras that will be linked to Chicago’s Emergency Management Center through the city’s 500-mile fiber optic backbone.
Funding from the Department of Homeland Security, the city, and from local drug seizures will be used to expand the network and install the next wave of cameras, which will have audio sensors to distinguish gun shots, be tied to software that will scan video feeds for suspicious behavior, and automatically activate when a 911 call is placed.
CLEAR, in addition to giving officers access to every piece of evidence collected in investigations, also uncovers crime patterns so that the police department knows where to hang surveillance cameras and where to concentrate officers.
Though only about 50 patrol cars are currently equipped with the technology to access the system, as Verizon switches on its high-speed cellular network, more cars will be included.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from Wired (05/05) P. 154; Shachtman, Noah .