BY ELLIE HENSLEY
Not so fast, criminals. Midtown Blue and the Atlanta Police Department are stepping up to prevent crimes such as car break-ins on Midtown roads with the installation of new License Plate Readers (LPRs).
Using funds from the Midtown Improvement District, Midtown Blue will purchase and install 18 new LPRs at locations across the district that will optimally enhance APDs’s vehicle tracking. The project will be contracted through the Atlanta Police Foundation.
The cameras are scheduled to be installed by the end of the year. Read more about how they work and act as part of the City of Atlanta’s larger video camera network.
How License Plate Readers Work
When an LPR reads the tag off a car, it sends it into a cloud database where it can be run by APD dispatchers to see if there are any previous issues associated with it. If the tag registrant is wanted for any significant crimes or has a BOLO (“be on the look-out”) out against them, officers will know the direction the car is traveling and can use their larger network of cameras to track the car.
Three other zones in the City of Atlanta have previously had cameras installed. And Midtown, which is located in Zone 5, is following suit now that the proper infrastructure for the cameras is in place.
“Crime these days is mobile,” said Major Brian Schiffbauer, Zone 5 Commander. “The perpetrators are still in their cars. With the help of surveillance cameras, we can tell which specific car by looking at their license plate, and we’re able to tell everywhere they’ve been where there are [LPRs]. The success rate is phenomenal, it’s great technology.”
Ninety-four percent of the crime that occurs in the Midtown Improvement District is nonviolent property crime. This investment has the potential to reduce the most prevalent types of crime experienced in Midtown, which involve items stolen from vehicles in parking decks and surface parking lots. Often, thieves drive into or near these facilities.
Fighting Crime in Real-Time
LPRs are just one way that APD and Midtown Blue use video surveillance to fight crime in the city. For several years now, Midtown Blue has had a system of public right-of-way cameras that monitor intersections in Midtown. Currently more than 140 right-of-way cameras stationed throughout Midtown feed into APD’s Video Integration Center, a network of more than 5,700 camera feeds from all over the city. Although Midtown’s right-of-way cameras are high definition, they don’t have the capability to automatically read license plate tags.
Closer Look: More than 3,000 respondents have taken our Community Survey since it launched in early September. We're beginning to sift through the results and connect the findings to our organization's near-term work plan. One thing we were surprised to see is that fewer people who spend time in Midtown know about the closed-circuit video surveillance system that has been helping us fight crime for more than a decade. Have you completed our survey yet? There's still time! Please head over now to the survey and weigh in on what you want to see more of in Midtown.
Take the Survey Now
Recently, APD introduced its Connect Atlanta program, which bridges communication between the VIC’s cameras and at-home video surveillance systems such as Ring. The coordinated effort makes it possible for everyone who has a camera at their building - a homeowner, an office building, a store - to contribute as a force multiplier for APD. More than 15K video cameras are now part of the effort. Learn more about how you can participate by downloading this fact sheet.
Two Ways to Participate:
- Register your cameras with APD’s citywide directory so the department can contact you to ask for footage to solve crimes should it need them for a specific date and time.
- Or, you can integrate your cameras for real-time collaboration for an install fee so APD can see incidents as they occur. This level of participation helps first responders manage response times and immediately provides them with actual footage of suspects. The integration technology was developed by a Peachtree Corners-based company called Fusus.
“If our tag readers pick up a license plate and we know what the car looks like, we can now use your cameras to continue to track that car,” said Midtown Blue Director of Public Safety Marcus Neville. “With our camera system and Fusus working with LPRs, we have a real-time and far-reaching crime-fighting unit.”