Chances are if you have installed security cameras around your home, you are concerned about your safety and there have been incidents of crime in your neighborhood.
Likely the cameras are connected to a monitor – maybe an app on a smartphone – and the video is being recorded, via the Cloud, with images stored somewhere. Often the manufacturer offers buyers recording and storage services.
Based on research by Strategy Analytics, a Forbes magazine columnist recently estimated that consumer spending for “smart” home surveillance cameras will grow at 9.1 percent, from $7 billion in 2018 to $9.7 billion by 2023. Unit sales are predicted to more than double over the same period from 54 million to 120 million.
One of the biggest sellers is the doorbell-camera-recorder marketed by Ring, which is owned by Amazon. With thousands of customers nationwide, Ring now is partnering with more than 400 law enforcement agencies to connect its customers voluntarily to investigators where crimes are reported.
These law enforcement partners are not given access to customers’ video recordings. Rather, Ring will contact customers within a crime area and invite them to voluntarily share their videos with law enforcement agencies.
In the same way, the Kern County Sheriff’s Department has launched its Camera Registry Program. Bakersfield and Kern County residents, who have installed home surveillance cameras, are invited to list their camera locations by going online to kernsheriff.org/Camera_Program.
A volunteer listing of camera locations and the types of surveillance systems that have been installed will be maintained by the Sheriff’s Department to expedite neighborhood crime investigations.
“The idea is to essentially help speed up the process of knowing where video is when a crime occurs,” a sheriff’s spokeswoman said.
Sheriff’s officials note that a recent notorious homicide case was solved, in part, by the perpetrator being caught at the scene on video surveillance.
The Sheriff’s Department will not have remote access to registered cameras. Rather, law enforcement officers will only know the addresses of camera owners, who have filled out an online form, along with contact information.
“If you register your camera, we have no access to it. We can’t see it. We can’t get into your system,” Sheriff Donny Youngblood emphasized at a recent press conference announcing the Camera Registry Program. “The intent is to know where these cameras are located so we can get information much quicker than going door to door and yard to yard, and asking people if they have cameras. That’s very time intensive.”
As video surveillance systems become more sophisticated and the use has increased, privacy concerns have surfaced.
Catching random motorists or pedestrians passing through a neighborhood, surveillance systems have been used to erroneously alert residents and accuse innocent people of being “dangerous strangers.” In some cities, neighbors have pooled their money and installed roadside cameras that can track vehicles by their license plate numbers as the drive by homes.
Civil liberties groups contend these systems are robbing Americans’ of their rights to travel freely and to not be watched without justifiable cause. They claim these monitoring systems are spreading fear and creating a nation gripped by paranoia.
Others argue that these monitoring systems are providing Americans with a sense of security. They ask: What’s worse? To come home from a trip or from work at the end of the day to discover a burglary, or to lose a bit of privacy by installing surveillance cameras?
Homeowners who have installed surveillance cameras have answered that question. They have traded a bit of privacy for their peace of mind.
It only makes sense now for those property owners in Kern County to list their cameras with the Sheriff’s Department to maximize the ability to solve neighborhood crimes.