Updated Application Info For the City’s Business Security Camera Program
Businesses seeking to install security cameras can still apply to be reimbursed for up to $3,000 from the City of Philadelphia.
The Business Security Camera Program is funded by the Department of Commerce which encourages business to take advantage of the the City’s offer to help keep their businesses and streets safe.
The program, established in February of 2015, has been under-used by local businesses. A combination of the program’s requirements and the upfront cost may dissuade business owners from enrolling, said Sgt. John Massi, of the 26th Police District.
The program requires businesses to first get estimates from at least two contractors licensed to work in Philadelphia. If approved, the city will inform the business of the exact amount that will be reimbursed following the installation of the camera system.
In order to be reimbursed, the business must register its cameras with the City of Philadelphia’s SafeCam program. SafeCam, launched in 2011, aggregates a list of business and neighborhood security cameras that the Philadelphia Police can ask to pull footage from to help solve crimes.
The Philadelphia Police do not have direct access to the camera feeds nor can they compel camera owners to share footage but by signing up for the program, camera owners are signalling that they may be willing to share their security footage if it’s needed by the police.
According to the Philadelphia Police Public Affairs office, over 3,000 outdoor surveillance cameras are registered with the SafeCam program and have aided in hundreds of police investigations.
Despite the benefits of the program, Massi said that few people enroll. He was unsure whether a lack of interest of knowledge of the program was to blame.
Besides having to provide the city with estimates and register with the SafeCam program, the security system must meet the city’s technical standards. The complete details can be found at the Department of Commerce’s Business Support webpage. Crucially, the cameras must be able to record in the dark, either via infrared settings or external lights. The DVR that stores the recordings must be able to store 15 days of recording without sacrificing video quality.
In order to be reimbursed by the city, businesses must follow the steps exactly as they are laid out. According to the program application and guide, deviating from the steps can prevent businesses from being reimbursed.