Syracuse looking for public’s help in surveillance technology decision

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The city of Syracuse is looking for the public’s input on two proposed technologies.

The Surveillance Technology Working Group is considering both tethered, unmanned aerial drones deployed in emergency situations and remote cameras and sensors that are mounted on street or utility poles.

Mayor Walsh’s technology advisory group is ensuring the people have a say before any decisions are made.

Rather than just be reactive, we have a sense of where this dumping takes place and this technology would give us the ability to monitor it in a much more efficient way, where if nothing’s happening, we go about our business. But if the sensors pick up activity, if the cameras identify the perpetrators, then we can hold them accountable and maintain positive quality of life in our neighborhoods.

Mayor Ben Walsh, (I) City of Syracuse

The group is asking Syracuse neighbors to fill out this online form by Tuesday, July 27.

In a release, the city sent descriptions of the two technologies below: 

Tethered UAS 

Tethered devices launch to give public safety responders situational awareness on major incidents like fatal crashes, train derailments, endangered missing persons, mass shootings, or barricaded individuals. They can also provide public safety awareness at large public gatherings or events. The devices, manufactured by Fotokite, only go up and down and have no horizontal capabilities. 

  • Devices provide photography and video 
  • Use will be subject to applicable regulatory and legal restrictions, i.e. Federal Aviation Administration rules governing airspace requirements and U.S. Constitution Fourth Amendment right to privacy 
  • Devices will be launched only when circumstances require situational awareness 

Vacant Lot Monitoring 

Monitoring uses cameras and sensors mounted on street lights or utility poles to monitor City-owned vacant lots where illegal dumping is a recurring problem. The pilot program is part of the City of Syracuse Smart City initiative in partnership with the New York Power Authority. It is being reviewed by the advisory group because equipment could capture images of people or vehicles which pass within the camera’s field of view. 

  • Comparative analytics use images over time to identify changes at the site. Notifications will be sent if there are changes indicating illegal dumping. 
  • Department of Public Works staff will have access to review photos after an illegal dumping notification. 
  • Proposed for use at five initial sites; the program could be expanded, if effective. 

Questions regarding the review can be directed to Amanda Darcangelo in the Office of Accountability, Performance, and Innovation at adarcangelo@syrgov.net

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