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City Of Syracuse Seeks Input From Residents On Proposed Surveillance Technology

DJI Mavic Pro Drone
The City's Surveillance Technology Group is hoping the public will comment on two new technologies that could potentially be utilized in Syracuse for public safety and monitoring illegal dumping.

Local residents have a chance to offer input on new technology and surveillance systems that Syracuse could soon be putting into place. The city is considering remote cameras and sensors to monitor illegal dumping that occurs in vacant lots. The technology could help to control such illegal activity, but Mayor Ben Walsh acknowledges the community might still have concerns.

“We want to be able to catch those that are illegally dumping and hold them accountable. The concern is that in monitoring these sites, it may unintentionally capture other images. Maybe a neighbor is walking by and we capture certain images that have no association to the illegal activity,” said Walsh.

He adds the city is also evaluating the use of tethered drones to help in fires and other emergencies. They can stay in the air much longer than battery-operated drones to help first responders.

"The company that manufactures these tethered drone devices, FotoKite, has a significant presence here in Syracuse," said Walsh. "They are currently down in Miami surveilling the high rise collapse. We are anxious to be able to utilize it for any type of emergency where prolonged aerial surveillance can hopefully save people and protect people."

These examples are the first use of Walsh’s new Surveillance Technology Working Group. Community input will help guide policies and even decisions of whether to purchase new kinds of surveillance systems. He calls it a step toward transparency.

“We have nothing to hide here. In fact, this is an intentional way in which we are being transparent in our decision making," said Walsh. "So we want to make sure decisions aren’t made, and then weeks or months or years down the road somebody says, ‘Hey wait a minute. Why didn’t anybody ask me my opinion? Or Why didn’t we think of this unintended negative outcome?’”

You can learn more about these particular technologies and add your input at OurCity.SyrGov.Net

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.