(June 8, 2018) In addition to boosting network coverage, a dozen cell phone towers recently installed on the Boardwalk by communications company Crown Castle will also provide two dozen new camera feeds for the resort’s City Watch surveillance system.
City Engineer Terry McGean said the equipment costs were absorbed by Crown Castle.
“They put cameras at each of the tower locations for our City Watch system,” he said. “It’s not a feed we put on the web, it’s a feed we use internally for public safety.”
Ocean City Police and the Emergency Services departments monitor the City Watch camera system, McGean said.
“They feed to what we call ‘City Watch,’ which is essentially our camera surveillance system we have throughout town,” he said.
After rejecting an initial proposal from Crown Castle last April to install a dozen distributed antenna systems on the Boardwalk and seven more on side streets between Baltimore and Philadelphia avenues, in July the City Council voted 5-2 to accept the deal, based on efforts to conceal the apparatus.
Although not similarly financed by an outside contractor, McGean said the city has also replaced an antiquated closed-circuit camera system at the Ocean Bowl Skate Park on Third Street.
“That system was no longer working, so we installed new cameras that are also part of the City Watch system,” he said. “It literally was just cameras that … fed into the office at the skatepark.”
While still able to be monitored on site, McGean said public safety officials could now view the skate park feeds.
Councilwoman Mary Knight said the expanded City Watch camera system helps with a host of public safety issues, adding, “It’s not just for crime prevention.”
The surveillance system also assists police when children get lost or adults get separated on the Boardwalk, Knight said.
“We will pull up footage to look where the child was last seen,” she said.
The increasing number of surveillance cameras also tends to discourage bad behavior, Knight said.
“Unfortunately, we live in a society where bad things happen,” she said. “People are deterred from bad behavior when they know they’re being watched.”