HIGH-tech CCTV cameras are ready to roll in 14 towns around the county, with security measures so tight that they can even record people who try to vandalise the cameras.
The roll-out of the CCTV system is at an advanced stage and in some locations, cameras are already operating in test mode, members of the Kilamallock/Cappmore area council were told.
Dr Mihai Bilauca, who is heading the €500,000 project explained that having identified the most desirable locations, work is now well under way.
Although the budget allowed for the full allocation, the number of cameras in some locations had to be pared back because of cost constraints.
Outlining the scope of the technology, Dr MIhai said that the cameras will not only record events in a 360 degree panorama, but will also record the identity of anyone who tries to vandalise or disable them.
There are 44 cameras in total and locations have been set up to add others when more funding becomes available.
Surveillance will go ‘live’ in phases over the coming months and, as well as being a deterrent to criminals and an aid for the Gardaí, some areas will be able to watch live events in their towns, such as parades, via the internet.
The first areas to have such a facility will be Adare, Newcastle West and Kilmallock and the rest of the locations will be rolled out.
‘We’re also trying to see whether we can give Gardaí access to the system on their mobile phones,” Dr Bilauca said.
He added that in each location, there will be signs with phone numbers for property owners to contact the system management if they do not want their homes to be covered by the cameras, which have powerful zoom technology.
“We are ensuring that we don’t invade privacy in homes and we can block individual buildings or windows. Some people would prefer to have their property monitored in case of break-ins but others would not”.
Dr Bilauca said that date protection and privacy entitlement are “of the utmost importance,” and staff are receiving special legal training in these areas.
The system will be able to zoom in to read car registration plates, even after dark and will have automatic number plate recognition which will save Gardaí hours of trawling through footage of they need to know whether a particular car passed a camera and when that happened.
“The main benefit of all of this is to help create safer communities,” he told the members.
Kilmallock Municipal Mayor, Gerald Mitchell (FG) said the system will be a “very effective tool against crime”.
Cllr Mike Donegan (FF) said he would be happy if the system could help identify the culprits who “fly through the town” in their cars.
Cllr Noel Gleeson (FF) said it was important that the best quality equipment was being used but he asked what was to happen when the street lights go out.
“The company which makes the orange lights that are used in some of the towns has gone out of business so when a light goes, we can’t replace it,” he explained.
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