• United States



by Megan Sanstosus

Smile, You’re on a Chicago Camera

Dec 01, 20042 mins
Physical SecuritySecurity

HOMELAND SECURITY The city of Chicago is serious about homeland security. In September, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced ambitious plans to create a network of 2,250 surveillance cameras throughout Chicago. While providing the means to beef up security, the network will also “redefine how 911 works,” says Ron Huberman, executive director for the office of emergency services and communications, who’s heading up the implementation.

Today, when a Chicagoan calls 911, the caller’s name and address pop up on the dispatcher’s screen. The dispatcher then relays the message, and the caller’s location, to the correct department. The new system will provide video images from the camera closest to the caller’s location, allowing responders to better assess the situation and provide a more effective response.

Chicago already has 2,000 standalone videocameras installed throughout the city at places such as schools, transit stations and intersections as well as at O’Hare International Airport. An additional 250 cameras will be added at undisclosed locations deemed “high-risk terrorist targets.” Linking the cameras into a single network, tied to smart software that can monitor suspicious activity without human intervention, will bring the surveillance system to a whole new level, Huberman says.

The complete network is scheduled to come online in March 2006. The software will be developed with a $5.1 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security. The city is spending another $3.5 million to buy additional cameras and to build a new operations center capable of accessing all of the camera images, Huberman says.