Report Reveals Flawed Surveillance Camera Network in Chicago

A recent audit shows no one knows who has access to the city’s network of surveillance cameras.

CHICAGO – An audit by Office of Inspector General Joe Ferguson shows that the city has not taken steps to limit access of cameras to authorized personnel or ensure that the system is properly maintained.

The major issue is that more than a decade after the first cameras were installed, there is still no way to tell who has access to them.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says there is no doubt the cameras have been helpful in fighting crime, but admits there are weak spots.

“What it highlighted was as it relates to access to those cameras. There wasn’t a uniform type of oversight. They brought up good points….We have made changes and we’re gonna make more changes,” says Emanuel in response to the report.

According to the audit, Chicago Police officers at district stations used group log-ins at shared computer terminals to access all 27,000 cameras in the broader network and to make “directional and focus changes” to the 2,683 city cameras able to make such adjustments.

Terminals with group log-ins create the risk of an impediment to both administrative and criminal investigations of wrongdoing.

“Any deficiency in the network’s operation creates a potentially serious safety risk, both to the public and to the first responders who rely on the cameras to provide information that often plays a vital role in assessing the scene of an incident prior to arrival,” says Ferguson.

The full report can be read here.


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Steven A. Karantzoulidis is the Web Editor for Security Sales & Integration. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Communication and has a background in Film, A/V and Social Media.

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