The City Council of Burlington, Vermont, has approved a plan to purchase new security cameras.

Vermont’s largest city currently has approximately 200 security cameras in use at outdoor and indoor venues operating at all times. We thought of increasing the number and location of the cameras.

Chief Innovation Officer Scot Barker told the council on Monday that the security camera system‘s current software and servers are end-of-life, outdated and need to be updated.

“The system is built in two parts. One is the software and servers designed to run security camera systems. And then there’s also money in the quote, or in the proposal, to buy 100 more cameras at a time for troubleshooting/repair. We know there are 12-15 cameras currently not working that we need to replace immediately. We also know that there are 15 to 20 that we know we need to add in certain areas.

Barker explained that the information from the cameras is only transmitted to police dispatch and is retained for a maximum of 90 days. But Ward 3 Progressive Joe Magee objects to the proposed purchase of $425,000.

“It’s not that I don’t understand that the system is end of life and these upgrades need to be done. The concerns I have are mostly about the scope and scale of these updates. I have serious concerns about the initial purchase of 100 cameras as well as concerns about the potential capacity of this system to hold up to 600 cameras,” Magee said. “Without seeing the policy used for deploying the cameras, without seeing the policy related to how video capture is used, I cannot support this article.”

During the discussion, it was noted that the cost of new software and servers will increase by 15-20% after September 17. While Ward 2 Progressive Gene Bergman shares some of the concerns expressed by Magee and other progressives, he said the significant increase in cost justifies moving forward.

“I would like to see a presentation from the administration on the policies, on how this is going to fit into the big public safety strategy that we have and to be able to explain all of this to the public as well and be assured by the public presentation that privacy issues that people may have won’t be real issues.

The city council also received an update on the new high school construction project from school district officials. A presentation on redistricting led to the approval of a public working session to be held later this month.

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