On-going Trend: City Surveillance Cameras Failing

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In Hoboken, New Jersey, failure to provide proper maintenance to city-owned surveillance cameras has led to an unfortunate stall in the investigation of a missing jogger.

NBC New York is reporting that 27-year-old Andrew Jarzyk went missing after going on a late night jog, and surveillance cameras that would have captured him on video near the city’s waterfront have reportedly not been working since 2010.

Juan Melli, a spokesman for Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, confirmed that the cameras were disabled four years ago after a contract expired with the company that designed and maintained the network, Packetalk, claiming that the city had a network of 10 surveillance cameras that were not functional. But Packetalk founder Tamer Zachary says, “I know for a fact it’s not 10; it’s absolutely more.”

Zachary says the contract ran from 2004 to 2009, and estimated that the annual costs for maintenance and upkeep were between $30,000 and $40,000.

“They always paid for the cameras through grants but when it came time to pay their maintenance fees, they decided to stop paying,” Zachary said.

Unfortunately, lack of upkeep and maintenance of surveillance systems is a common trend throughout the country, and safe to say, the world. Surveillance cameras are not just a one-and-done purchase: Those who decided to install a surveillance system need to understand that technologies and softwares are constantly changing, and with that, a surveillance system is only effective when it’s being regularly maintenanced, especially when it comes to a large-scale network. But as we’ve seen time and time again, city governments, businesses and individuals alike don’t want to spend the time or money it takes to properly maintain their surveillance networks. And in the end, we all suffer the consequences of this lack of attention, because suddenly when we need the cameras to function, they don’t!

However what’s most disturbing about the situation in Hoboken is that, according to the article, the city recently won a FEMA Port Security Grant that will pay for eight new surveillance cameras to be installed at the waterfront — but what about the fact that these new cameras will need regular maintenance?! The truth is that the city would rather not spend a dime and get a grant to pay for new cameras, then to spend their own money to fix the ones they already have. In the end, it’s temporary fix to a problem that will no doubt show its face again.

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