Kevin Smith, OEMC, (312) 746-9454
Operation Virtual Shield, the extensive camera network that brings security to several parts of the City of Chicago, will be expanded and enhanced under a plan introduced by Mayor Richard M. Daley in September and approved Wednesday by the Chicago City Council.
Under an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) and the Public Building Commission, the two agencies will work together to expand the surveillance camera system, with additional cameras installed in particular on the lakefront, along the Chicago River and at points through Lower Wacker Drive.
“Advanced technology can be an enormous asset in the areas of security and public safety, and the City of Chicago has been a leader in the use of technology in these fields,” said Mayor Daley. “Through these cameras, city officials are able to develop real-time intelligence, and the cameras also can serve as a deterrent against illegal activity and provide investigative data. The expansion of Operational Virtual Shield along the lakefront will make this popular and heavily visited part of Chicago safer and more secure.”
The Office of Emergency Management and Communications has for years steadily adapted the most advanced technology available to Chicago’s mission of public safety, while the Public Building Commission – with its extensive expertise in Operation Virtual Shield and the fiber optic network that links the cameras – has been indispensable in the development of the system. Funded by grant dollars from the Department of Homeland Security, the cameras allow city officials working at the OEMC to access the feeds from the cameras, allowing the City to better respond to developments in homeland security, law enforcement, traffic management, crowd control and severe weather.
The network of cameras will be further improved in the future, as the City of Chicago is working to bring to the system a layer of advanced analytic software. This will allow the cameras to independently identify suspicious behavior and alert officials, allowing the officials to investigate further and take action as necessary. With this addition, the camera network will be even more robust and effective.
“The Office of Emergency Management and Communications and the Public Building Commission, with the action taken today by the City Council, will work together to strengthen this great resource of our and ensure that our community is as safe as any large city can be,” Daley added.