Baltimore is the 26th most populous city in the United States. According to Forbes, it’s also the 7th most dangerous. With rich heritage and beautiful Inner Harbor, Baltimore is a popular destination for history buffs and the nautically inclined. But the city has a problem – while its growing population creates opportunities for the people who live there, it also intensifies issues like aging infrastructure, pollution, traffic, and most alarmingly, crime. So when the Baltimore Police Department approached EastBanc Technologies for solutions, we were eager to help.
At EastBanc Technologies, we want to be known for helping our customers solve complicated issues—and using new technologies to do so. Since the company was founded in 1999, we have transformed into developing software solutions in a number of areas, including mobile, Business Intelligence, cloud and development operations, and Microsoft CRM. But more than anything, we want to build solutions for our customers that have a big, positive impact on people’s lives.
One way we’ve been able to do that recently is through our partnership with Microsoft through Microsoft’s CityNext initiative, a program designed to help governments, businesses, and citizens reimagine what’s next for their cities.
Through the CityNext initiative, leaders combine technology with innovative ideas to connect governments, businesses, and citizens with services that make cities more livable. In our case, the initiative took the shape of developing an application for the City of Baltimore’s CitiWatch Community Partnership, a plan to partner with local businesses and residents to fight crime and make Baltimore safer.
Our team developed a SharePoint-based CitiWatch web application that allows Baltimore residents and business owners to voluntarily register their privately owned surveillance systems for use by the Baltimore Police Department in the event of a crime. Because the app is built on SharePoint, the police are able to maintain extensive records of where privately owned cameras are operating and how long the footage will be retained. When a crime occurs, any business or resident in that area who has opted in may be contacted with a request for video from their camera. As part of the CitiWatch Community Partnership, our application is helping local government extend investigative resources and opening up lines of collaboration and communication between citizens and businesses and local police.
Time can be of the essence – many security systems overwrite footage that is not preserved – so having the information on SharePoint means police can quickly target the cameras that may have valuable footage and work efficiently to recover it before it’s irretrievably lost.
The City of Baltimore was utilizing SharePoint, so we were able to align our solution quickly and easily, reducing the need for training, simplifying maintenance, and enabling integration with other systems. The program launched in the later part of 2014, and at last count, almost 300 privately owned cameras were registered. Because the CityWatch application is scalable and repeatable, we are already in talks with other police departments in other cities to implement similar programs. It’s very gratifying to know we’re helping make cities safer by filling in surveillance gaps; because it’s a voluntary opt-in program, we’re doing it without compromising privacy.
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