Texas community aims for citywide video surveillance
McAllen, Texas, is one step closer to installing a citywide video surveillance network. The city commission has approved a $335,000 contract with Houston-based INX Inc. to build a wireless Internet network that will provide the backbone for the video surveillance program.
McAllen’s city manager, Mike Perez, told GovPro.com, “The city commission is going to be selecting the surveillance camera vendor for the project on August 13 or 14. They’ll make the selection at that point regarding what kind of cameras we are going to use. The commission has already selected the software we are going to be using; that decision was made about three weeks ago. So, we are making progress on the project.”
Installation of the wireless network will take six to nine months, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said. The city has projected that it will cost about $6 million to blanket McAllen with wireless Internet access.
City leaders hope to receive millions of dollars in grant money from the federal National Telecommunications and Information Administration for the project. In December, they will learn whether they will receive that money.
The wireless network, which would cover downtown, Bicentennial Boulevard and Municipal Park, will link police video surveillance cameras to an underground fiber optic Internet cable that runs through the city. Code enforcement and traffic operations also could use the system, which might be opened up for public use. A wireless surveillance program has been in the works since 2007, Rodriguez said.
The surveillance system, which will record video and store it in a police database, will be used primarily to help identify crime suspects, corroborate victims’ accounts of crimes and help authorities detect evidence after crimes have occurred, Rodriguez said. Police typically will not monitor the cameras, even though the cameras can function as security monitors. Rodriguez plans to install 101 video cameras in parks, along trails and throughout commercial areas.
The city received nine bids for the wireless network, which was awarded to INX. McAllen’s Information Technology Director Belinda Mercado said INX’s system takes advantage of the city’s fiber optic cable, which connects City Hall, the airport and the police department to the Internet. By linking to the cable in multiple spots, the system increases the speed and reliability of the network while reducing the likelihood of interference, city leaders said.