In the center of Los Angeles’ Watts area, the 700-unit Jordan Downs housing project comprises the meanest of mean streets, a place where the police and criminals have been engaged in open warfare for years, says InformationWeek. Patrol cars responding to fake 911 calls have found themselves fired on by gang members. That’s starting to change, thanks partly to a Wi-Fi video surveillance system installed by Motorola. Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the system includes Axis Communications video cams mounted on light poles around the development, Motorola Motomesh multiradio wireless broadband access points, and a multiscreen command center inside a police substation a few blocks away. Patrol cars will be equipped with mobile video feeds so that officers can access live transmissions on the road.
After cameras were installed, major crime in Jordan Downs dropped 32 percent in the first two months, compared with the same period a year earlier. So far, the camera network hasn’t provided direct evidence to convict anyone of a crime, but it’s a deterrent. Not only has crime declined in Jordan Downs, but there’s been a spillover effect in adjacent neighborhoods, where street crime is down as well. “People act differently when they think they’re being watched,” said a police officer. “Eventually they’ll get the sense that they just can’t do that kind of stuff in their neighborhood anymore.”