SHOALHAVEN City Council is looking for funding opportunities to replace and expand its system of CCTV cameras in the Nowra CBD.
Council’s co-ordinator for community development and project manager of the Nowra CBD CCTV project Alan Blackshaw said council had failed in an application for federal funding.
Mr Blackshaw said the independent assessment of the current CCTV system was done for internal use to gauge what might be needed to upgrade the system and what the possible cost might be.
“The report has indicated the system requires a full upgrade and we are now exploring funding possibilities,” he said.
“We had an application in earlier this year for Commonwealth funding but were notified that we were unsuccessful.
“The application we put in was to expand the current system and that was only up to $500,000 and that wouldn’t have given us everything that has been recommended but that was all the funding that was available at the time.
“We are now looking at what other funding is available.”
Mr Blackshaw said there were no funds in the council budget to replace or upgrade the system.
“CCTV cameras and hardware is a big-ticket item and that has not been put into the budget as such,” he said.
“The hardware and cameras are not the same as is used in a domestic or shop CCTV system.
“It is a bit more sophisticated and therefore it costs more as well for the supporting hardware.
“They are a massive cost to fund, maintain and replace the equipment and we are looking at establishing a management plan for when there is no other option than to replace them.”
He said eventually every CCTV system needed to be upgraded or replaced.
“At present, if we have to replace a camera that is damaged by lightning, birds or vandalism we replace it with a more contemporary camera, but we are still limited by the hardware we have in place.
“This system was installed nearly five years ago and in that time CCTV cameras and the associated technology have improved greatly. It is similar to digital cameras that people use – they have improved greatly in the past five years. I would say most people would have replaced their cameras in the past five years as the technology has improved.”
Mr Blackshaw said the report into the system was brief and before it went to council more information would be needed to review the situation.
He said if council was successful in gaining funding to replace the system it would then go out to tender.
And if funding was achieved that it would probably take an estimated three to six months.
“The problem with the first cameras that were installed was that there was only $150,000 in the grant funding to work with,” he said.
“We had to install 18 cameras which we did and we got the best we could get for the money – the problem with CCTV is it is an incredibly expensive option.
“At that point the cameras were reasonably good.”
Mr Blackshaw said the CCTV cameras did make people feel safer.
“And if people feel safer they will also frequent an area more often,” he said.
“Take the redeveloped Junction Court site.
“It has become immensely popular since its redevelopment – people are now frequenting it more often. They feel safe and that means more people will use it and that is a product of having CCTV cameras in the area.
“Having more people frequent an area all the time makes it safer.
“So from that point of view you can say they are a crime prevention tool. It is an expensive one, but it works.
“But realistically most of our problems are later at night when people are making their way home from various establishments in the area.”
Audit reveals failings and a $230,000 cost to fix them
By ROBERT CRAWFORD
AN independent assessment of the Nowra CBD CCTV cameras has found that the cameras had failings and recommended an upgrade which would cost at least $230,000.
To upgrade and expand the system would cost more than half a million dollars.
Shoalhaven City Council installed 18 CCTV cameras in the Nowra CBD in 2010 with $150,000 in federal funding.
Council awarded the tender, worth $99,391, to SME Telecommunications.
There have been mixed reports about the quality of images from the cameras, which have also run into privacy issues after they were challenged by privacy campaigner Adam Bonner.
A review of the Nowra CBD CCTV Scheme was conducted in May 2013 by Paul Charles from National Security Consulting.
The report was also to provide an indication of the cost of a potential upgrade and expansion.
It recommended an upgrade.
Council will not release Mr Charles’ full report for security reasons as is discusses technical aspects of the CCTV cameras and their failings.
Council said if the report was released to the public it could compromise the security and law enforcement aspect of the system.
But the Register can reveal Mr Charles’ report said an upgrade of the system, by replacing cameras and hardware in the current locations, would cost approximately $234,000.
The report also said to expand the system to include locations such as Egans Lane and some of Berry Street, as well as providing greater coverage of Junction Street would cost approximately $571,000.
The review cost council $2200.