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CCTV surveillance analyzed in the United States's largest cities

Analizan la vigilancia por CCTV en las mayores ciudades de los Estados Unidos

United States. Research carried out by Comparitech revealed that, on average, American cities have 11 surveillance cameras per 1,000 inhabitants. Meanwhile, the most monitored city, Atlanta, has more than 124 cameras per 1,000 inhabitants.

From monitoring traffic to preventing crime, surveillance cameras have a variety of purposes, which they serve thanks to their increasingly higher resolutions, more remote access to live video feeds, and the use of technologies such as facial recognition and automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) cameras.

To find out which of the 50 most populous cities in the US are under the most surveillance, Comparitech analyzed the number of fixed CCTV cameras, the number of cameras accessed through real-time crime centers, the number from private cameras within police and public force networks, body cameras of officers and dashboard cameras in patrol cars, video surveillance equipment in public transportation facilities and traffic cameras.

Findings
The researchers found that:

  • Almost 537,000 cameras monitor a population of 48.9 million people. This gives an average ratio of 11 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • Atlanta was the most monitored city with a ratio of 124.14 cameras per 1,000 inhabitants.
  • New York City had the highest number of cameras in total: 70,882.
  • A growing number of police forces (11 of the 50 covered) are turning to Flock traffic cameras, which use ALPR technology.
  • Many departments are also encouraging businesses and homeowners to add their private cameras to a police database, some of which include real-time access.
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The 10 most monitored cities: cameras per person
According to the number of cameras per 1,000 inhabitants, these are the most monitored cities in the United States:

  • Atlanta, Georgia: 60,864 cameras for 490,270 people = 124.14 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • Washington, DC: 35,082 cameras for 631,693 people = 55.54 cameras per 1,000 people.*
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 46,957 cameras for 1,527,886 people = 30.73 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • San Francisco, California: 18,200 cameras for 715,717 people = 25.43 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • Denver, Colorado: 14,043 cameras for 699,288 people = 20.08 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • Chicago, Illinois: 48,283 cameras for 2,608,425 people = 18.51 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: 9,525 cameras for 558,523 people = 17.05 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • Detroit, Michigan: 10,344 cameras for 621,193 people = 16.65 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: 10,159 cameras for 653,843 people = 15.54 cameras per 1,000 people.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: 8,417 cameras for 621,777 people = 13.54 cameras per 1,000 people.

*This figure does not include public transport figures. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) operates a 20,000-camera system, but this extends to other areas (e.g., Montgomery County, MD, and Prince George's County, MD).

Private databases
Several police departments and city councils encourage residents and businesses to share their private cameras with them. While some may only be accessible at the request of law enforcement officers, an increasing number have direct, real-time access to these cameras. As we have already seen, the police have access to almost 40,000 such cameras in Atlanta.

Other notable camera-sharing programs include Philadelphia (nearly 11,500 cameras as part of the PPD's SafeCam program), Washington D.C. (26,000 cameras donated by the council to private homes and businesses), and Memphis (3,500 cameras available through the Connect 2 Memphis program).

Security cameras for crowds
At least 11 cities have introduced this technology in recent months (Houston, Fort Worth, San Jose, Oklahoma City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Omaha, Raleigh, Oakland, Bakersfield and Tulsa). Flock cameras include automatic license plate recognition technology that isn't just used by police departments.

Private users can also create their own database that generates an alarm when a badge is detected on the list (including by comparing the plates to police and FBI databases). Unlike other ALPR technologies that delete license plate recordings after comparing them to relevant databases, Flock is creating a large database with all of this data.

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The full results report can be viewed online.

Álvaro León Pérez Sepúlveda
Author: Álvaro León Pérez Sepúlveda
Editor - Latin Press, Inc.
Comunicador Social Periodista egresado de la Universidad de Antioquia, con más de 14 años de experiencia en medios periodísticos y proyectos de comunicación digital. [email protected]

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