NORTH ADAMS -- In the coming weeks, the North Adams Police Department will be able to remotely view live feeds from security cameras at three of the North Adams Housing Authority’s apartment complexes.
"The police department will have the same live feed and ability to zoom in that we do," Executive Director Jennifer Hohn said Tuesday. "They’ll also be able to save the video to DVD or to a flash drive."
The remote connection to the cameras is made possible by a new point-to-point microwave connection -- a high-speed Internet link sent wirelessly from one tower to another. To make the connection happen, the city has offered to share bandwidth on the new microwave connection with the housing authority and in turn, a microwave antenna tower will be placed on the roof of the Ashland Park Apartment high rise.
"The cost to the housing authority is $3,400 for all of the equipment and installation," Ryan Belanger, of Ascenteck Technology Solutions in Pittsfield, said. "The link will provide near real-time monitoring of the cameras for the police department."
Hohn said that while the housing authority does not monitor the cameras on a 24-hour basis, the cameras are periodically monitored and the staff is able to view footage should an incident occur.
"It’s about the safety of our tenants, and the cameras are also a deterrent. People are less likely to commit a crime or vandalize something if they know they are
In addition, she said on several occasions the police department has asked for copies of footage from the surveillance cameras for evidence.
"We had one case of domestic violence occur near one of the cameras and the footage was helpful to the police," William Schrade Jr., a program manager with the housing authority, said.
The housing authority first rolled out the security cameras at the Ashland Park and Spring Park apartments on Ashland and Spring streets and at its Greylock Valley and Riverview apartment complexes in September 2010. While the police department has had access to the camera feeds since the program’s inception, the feed was not in real time and was described as being "spotty at best."
"Our main objective is to be able to ensure the safety of our tenants," Hohn said, noting tenant concerns were the impetus for the original 2010 camera installations.
In addition to upgrading connections to the system, the housing authority also recently completed a second phase of the project, adding more cameras at the properties.
"Many of our cameras are domes, which hold four cameras and provide a 360 degree view," Schrade said. "We’ve added one to the courtyard between the Ashland Park and Spring Park buildings and repositioned another to view the parking lot. We’ve also added them to the community rooms in both buildings."
Additional cameras, some of which have a single view, have been added to the front and back entrances of the Spring Park building and on the walkway between the Spitzer Center and Spring Park building.
At Greylock Valley, three 360-degree camera domes have been added providing views of Isbell and Sutton streets and Greylock Avenue. At the Riverview Apartments, located on Lincoln Street, an additional 360-degree camera has been installed in the community room.