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Smile, you may be on CommunityCam


by: PHOTO COURTESY OF VIDEOSURVEILLANCE.COM - This screenshot from the CommunityCam map shows the 130 surveillance cameras currently listed in Woodburn.Being the victim of a crime — any crime — can make a person feel powerless, but one Portland-area entrepreneur is doing his part to help law enforcement agencies and private individuals alike contribute to making their streets and communities safer.

It’s called CommunityCam, and it’s the brainchild of Josh Daniels, founder and CEO of the for-profit security camera systems provider VideoSurveillance.com.

Now available in major metropolitan areas such as Portland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver, Oakland, Salt Lake City and Boston, CommunityCam is a free, crowd-sourced, interactive map of the locations of surveillance cameras in the public domain.

After a quick, easy and free registration, users can add the locations of cameras they own or know of, which then become part of the map.

Daniels launched the innovative service in the fall of 2012.

“We wanted to find a way to leverage the power of the Internet and this is one initiative that we thought could serve the community,” Daniels said.

Although not as well-mapped as Portland or San Francisco or Philadelphia, Woodburn already has 130 cameras listed on the CommunityCam map — not bad, given its size.

“We’ve seen quite a bit of usership in Woodburn, relative to the size of the area,” Daniels said.

The cameras listed in the map are concentrated in the western part of the city, particularly near Interstate 5 and Woodburn Premium Outlets.

The goal is threefold. First, in the event of a crime — whether it be a traffic incident such as a hit-and-run, graffiti or other property damage, or an act of violence — police or even the victims can use the map to quickly determine whether there are cameras in the vicinity that might have captured footage of the incident.

Investigators could then contact the camera owners to retrieve the footage. However, because of the crowd-sourced nature of the site, CommunityCam cannot promise the cooperation of the property owners, or even that the cameras in question are operational.

“We don’t guarantee access or enable any footage review on the site,” Daniels said. “It’s really a mapping program at this point.”

But CommunityCam also offers more proactive responses to crime. Perhaps its most popular use is to plan cycling, running and walking routes, especially for parents and children traveling to and from school.

“We hear from a lot of users that they feel more comfortable walking children to school on a route that is populated by surveillance cameras,” he said.

Daniels also hopes that a map dotted with thousands of surveillance cameras (currently, more than 16,000 are mapped nationwide) would help serve as a deterrent for those contemplating illegal acts.

For more information, visit the CommunityCam website.