Thursday, August 08, 2019

Private camera network is expanding in Roscoe Village while Boystown program seems stalled

A woman walks her dog in the Roscoe Village neighborhood. | Choose Chicago
One of the city’s largest privately operated security camera networks is getting ready to expand.

Roscoe Village Neighbors spent $40,000 to install more than 25 high-definition security cameras and license plate readers during its first phase, which began last summer. Now, the neighborhood group is looking for more residents and businesses to join the program during its second year.

Footage from the camera network is saved on a cloud and can be instantly accessed when police need help with an investigation, the group said in a statement. Nearly a dozen police requests for video footage were honored during the program’s first year, according to the group.

In one case, the neighborhood network was able to generate images of a theft crew that targeted customers inside the village’s taverns last summer.

Parties interested in joining the Roscoe Village network may email the organizers: info@RoscoeVillage.org

Meanwhile, efforts to launch a camera network in the Boystown neighborhood have apparently not gone as smoothly.

The Northalsted Business Alliance, which oversees the spending of some local tax dollars in the Boystown neighborhood, has been eyeing a camera program since at least February 2017.

The program began experiencing delays almost immediately, according to the group’s meeting minutes. A request for proposals was supposed to be issued in 2017, and representatives from Northalsted went to Chinatown in April 2018 to see how that neighborhood’s camera system operates.

By July 2018, the group was said to be seeking “additional bids” for the Boystown system. Still, there is no indication in meeting minutes that any significant progress has been made. The Northalsted group budgeted $12,000 in taxpayer funds for “public way surveillance cameras/maintenance” this year. But, it is not setting aside any money for such a program in 2020, according to preliminary minutes from its latest public meeting.

Representatives of the Northalsted Business Alliance and the city’s Special Service Area #18 did not respond to multiple requests for information about their program.
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