Suspect sought in downtown Palo Alto robbery
Original post made
on May 15, 2013
Palo Alto police are looking for a man who they say robbed a woman in downtown Monday night after grabbing her by the ponytail and pulling her into an alley as she was walking by.
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posted Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:43 AM
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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 17, 2013 at 8:17 am
> I think we could at least outline the technical scope of the problem
I don't think the technical scope of installing cameras, themselves, is that complicated, although selecting the equipment might be more difficult today, than in the past, since there are more choices for police departments to consider.
While there are technical issues, as I see it, the more difficult problems are operational, political, and legal. There are some police departments that have claimed that the crime rates have not been deterred by the installation of these cameras; the LAPD (if memory serves) at one point claimed that up to 40% of the cameras were out-of-servicethereby producing nothing of value. This particular problem could have been foreseen, and cameras chosen that have internal/external, diagnosticsproducing alerts to the police that a service call was needed. It would seem, however, that the LAPD didn't purchase this sort of equipment.
In order for a network of deployed equipment to be of useit has to be very reliable, weatherized, and ruggedized--to resist casual tampering and vandalism. This equipment needs to be serviced immediately, when that service is needed. The police either need to budget for an outside organization to do the installation/maintenance, or they would need to obtain these services from an inter-City department, such as Public Works, which might not see maintenance on these units with the same sense of urgency that the Police would.
One of the problems that needs to be considered is how to obtain meaningful pictures. Many building-mounted, or pole-mounted cameras produce pictures that do not provide clear access to people's, making recognition of "persons of interest" difficult. So, adding to the technical choices for the police is the need to find cameras that can be mounted in ways that provide clearer facial images. This easily could require a certain amount of R&Dwhich small police departments don't always seem to be willing to fund.
So far, other than the issue of finding "NextGen" cameras, nothing particularly difficult has been suggested. The problems occur after the cameras are in usewhat to do with the recordings, how long to save the recordings, who should be able to access the recordings, to what extent is the City responsible for improper use of the recordings, and so on? Most of these issues have not been openly discussed here in Palo Altooutside of the scope of the digital cameras on Taser weapons.
In one case, a person who was "Tased" claims that the recordings of the incident where he was involved were edited. While the police denied the charge, questions were raised by this incident that have never been addressed by the Palo Alto policesuch as:
1) Who is in charge of the Taser recordings?
2) How long are these recordings maintained?
3) What security exists to thwart police editing of the recordings?
4) How can the public gain access to these recordings?
These same questions are on the table for any surveillance cameras that might be deployed locally. These are not "rocket science" questions to answer. Other towns have managed to deploy surveillance camerasso these towns probably have answers to these questions that work. Sadly, our town doesn't seem to have done much thinking about the implications of these sorts of technologies, relative to the police department.
Facial recognition systems are now on-line that offer the police the ability to use the recordings to identify people through the use of stored images, and software that came compare these images. False positives have been the bug-a-boo of these systems for almost a decade. However, developers of these systems continue to make progress, and soon the FBI will have a nationwide system that police should be able to use to help them identify people from images that their surveillance systems collect.
There are many Palo Altans, I think, who still believe that surveillance cameras require people sitting in front of monitors to review recordings in order to use the recordings. While people can review the recordings, there is now software that can locate all green cars with a blue drivers (given the appropriate images). Police would than only have to review those sections of the recordings there possible information of value would be found. Getting people to understand the advances in vision systems technology will not be an easy job for people who believe more in "trees", than technology.
Obviously, this all costs moneyand requires a tech savvy police department, City Council, and also a tech savvy populationwhich I don't think we have here in Palo Alto.
There are other issues, but those identified here are enough to answer the poster's request.