The Lancaster Community Safety Coalition is a nonprofit organization formed to prevent crime in Lancaster, Pa. As part of its mission, the Coalition has spearheaded the installation of a 164-camera surveillance system from Bosch Security Systems Inc. to monitor public spaces. 

Bosch AutoDome and EnviroDome PTZ cameras are spread throughout the city, streaming video over more than 100 miles of fiber optic strands to the Coalition’s monitoring center. Coalition employees monitor live video from the cameras 16 hours per day. Using a Bosch Allegiant control system and an IntuiKey keyboard that controls the PTZ cameras, employees can switch between video streams from each of the cameras and hone in on suspicious activities or crimes in progress up to four blocks away.

The Coalition’s monitoring facility has a direct line to the city’s center for 911 calls. Coalition employees can send live video to flat-screen monitors in the emergency center to help the dispatchers communicate more effectively with officers.

Video helps police in investigation of crimes committed, often saving valuable police hours. In one incident, Coalition employees alerted police to video of an imminent fight on a city street, during which a man was killed. Officers, guided by video from the surveillance cameras, were able to find and arrest the shooter. In a previous case, similar in nature, but where the incident was not captured on video, the investigation took city police 1,600 hours to learn the identity of and apprehend the suspect.

Recorded video of crimes committed can be used as evidence against suspects, which has eliminated the need for court trials in some cases. Reducing the number of trials results in significant savings for the county, as court costs are estimated at $20,000 per trial.

“This video surveillance system is extremely progressive for a city the size of Lancaster,” said Joseph Morales, executive director, Lancaster Community Safety Coalition. “We are on the cutting edge with more cameras than any city in the state of Pennsylvania — even more than Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.” — Contributed by Bosch Security Systems