Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Clarifying the "Cams"

Dear readers, these traffic cameras at Park & Seventh are in no way "spy cams," as the Needler in the Haystack would have it. I never described them as such and frankly felt the characterization on CLIPS was misleading.

These cameras are solely for the purpose of monitoring traffic flow to improve mobility, as I understand it. Call me naive, but I am buying the stated purpose as described on the NJDOT web site.

Click here for an explanation of the new system.

As for the other kind of cameras - those used for crime surveillance - city officials now say the CCTV cameras will be monitored from the basement of the Tepper's building, in yet another flip-flop on use of that space. The casual mention of the plan in a recent budget session strains the credibility of the administration, because so many other possibilities have been floated previously.

First of all, do we have the cameras? Where will they be placed? Will police or civilians monitor them? How will results be conveyed to those who can take official action?

This issue goes back many years. Officials of the Special Improvement District weighed in with a perspective that the best practice was to have the surveillance separate from the police station, but others disagreed.

The most egregious issue to some (including Plaintalker) was the half-million expenditure to fix up the basement to beat a deadline for grant expiration. The result was "a shell," as some officials put it, with no defined purpose. Our state legislator has alluded to leaks in the space that make it virtually unusable. The space was rejected as a potential senior center, its original proposed use, and plans to relocate the City Council there fell by the wayside.

So despite the concept, the details remain unstated.

Anyway, meanwhile, a spin through the traffic cams is kind of fun. Now that I am no longer a driver, I enjoy seeing what kind of aggravation I am missing. Black ice, traffic jams, roads closed - I am so out of here!

--Bernice Paglia


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