UPDATE: Dubuque may link security cameras to other agencies

Published: May. 16, 2018 at 11:09 AM CDT
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Officials are considering linking security camera networks owned by the city of Dubuque, Dubuque County, and Dubuque Community Schools.

School officials have proposed the idea with the goal of helping first responders during emergencies.

Across the city and county, there are more than 1,000 cameras used for surveillance.

The city and county say the Dubuque Community School District asked if it was possible to provide real-time video feeds from their cameras.

Now all three entities must work together to create a plan- and the city of Dubuque believe the infrastructure is there to create a helpful tool for law enforcement.

"We can take advantage of a lot of the investments the city has already made in cameras, already made in fiber optics, and really leverage a lot of those investments to make these kinds of things happen," said Chris Kohlmann, Information Services Manager for the City of Dubuque. "So we've set ourselves on a path that makes this very possible to happen."

Kohlmann and Dubuque County Information Technology Superintendent Nathan Gilmore say these plans are still in "very preliminary" stages and will take time before the program is implemented.

Gilmore says the model could be similar to camera feeds going into a new server. Dispatches could then request access to the cameras, providing they are a part of the system, to get the best view of a potentially dangerous situation.

"You're not going to be scrolling through a list of cameras," Gilmore said. "You need some sort of map, organization. That's the goal- for those that wish the participate in this, we will get the systems in place so 9-1-1 can access their cameras in real time."

The Dubuque Police Department released a statement to TV9 saying "our traffic city cameras have been an extremely valuable tool for us in many of our investigations," adding "this type of real time information can enhance our police response to certain situations."

Lt. Joe Messerich of the Dubuque Police Department added ". It’s important to remember that this is still in the planning phase, but this does serve as an example of the partnership between the Dubuque Community School District, the City, and area law enforcement that has been in place for some time. We will continue to explore options to keep our schools and community safe as threats and technologies evolve."

District Technology Director Coby Culbertson says officials will first test out the idea on certain cameras.

County, city and school officials will then create a draft plan, which would be considered by county supervisors, City Council members and school board members.

Gilmore said all three entities will work together to determine the best system, and since a lot of the infrastructure is already in place, the cost to the city and county is relatively low.

Gilmore added no other schools aside from the Dubuque Community School District have expressed interest in being added to the server as of yet. If a school district or college were interested in being added, he says it would be a relatively easy process to do so. Conversely, if a school or university added themselves to the server, and then wanted to be remove, Gilmore said it would be easy to disconnect.