Williamston considering new camera network system; includes free wi-fi

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During their meeting Monday, Town of Williamston officials heard a presentation on a camera network that could provide security cameras and free Wi-Fi for the Mineral Spring Park area. They also decided to rebid the Brookdale Restroom project.

Billy Dunlap, of Wildfire Connections, presented a proposal for providing the town with a wireless camera network which includes six point, tilt, zoom (PTZ) cameras, a network video recorder, all necessary software and 911 call boxes.

The video command post for the network would be housed at the Williamston Police Department. The wireless perimeter will allow high speed internet connectivity at the police department parking area and throughout Mineral Spring Park.

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Public and private systems including banks, schools, apartments and other businesses in the area can also tie into it, Dunlap said. The Williamston Police Department could then have access to the other camera networks as well as the six cameras initially provided. Additional cameras can be added as needed, he said.

The private network system records in 30 frames per second, which Dunlap said is DVD and movie video quality.

Cost of the system as presented, including installation and labor, is $19,743 plus tax.

Dunlap said an additional monthly recurring cost for bandwidth is estimated at $200 to $300 per month. There is also a $99 monthly charge for operating the welcome page and bandwidth controls necessary for the free wi-fi, he said.

Controls will be in place to monitor the bandwidth allowed for each user of the free wi-fi so “that a teenager or someone watching a movie in the park will not use all of the available bandwidth,” Dunlap said.

Councilman Mack Durham asked about ongoing costs and replacement of cameras.

Dunlap said that the system comes with a one year warranty and a monthly maintenance agreement is available. Replacement would be part of a five year plan for the town, he said. Equipment installed in other towns has been in place as long as five years with no problems or need for replacement, he said.

Durham also said the town should consider placing cameras in other areas of the town and asked if there were any studies that show how effective cameras are in deterring crime. “Other park areas are just as important,” Durham said.

“Cameras deter crime,” Dunlap responded. He said that the camera system his company provides high quality video and meets the needs of law enforcement. “They pass the test of law enforcement.”

Mayor Carthel Crout said that the purpose of the system was not to elimiinate crime but to protect people in the park. “If one child or one woman is abused, (in the park) we have failed,” he said.

Crout also said the system would help deter vandalism in the park. The mayor agreed with Councilman Durham that the town should consider cameras for the Brookdale Park area. “We need to provide cameras in the Brookdale Park on the first go round,” he said.

Councilman Durham also raised the question of liabilities associated with a camera system.

Town Attorney Richard Thompson advised council to go into executive session for advice on concerns he had. “There are some things you need to think about,” he said. However, Council decided it was not necessary because they were only receiving information on the system and were not voting.

The presentation was accepted as information and no action was taken.

Council also discussed contacting contractors and rebidding the Brookdale Park restroom project. No bids were submitted on the recently advertised project, according to Town Administrator Phyllis Lollis.

Lollis asked Council for direction on the project.

Acting on a motion by Councilman Tony Hagood, it was decided the town will move forward and solicit additional bids for the project before the end of the month. A special called meeting will be announced to look at bids, Mayor Crout said.