Software could allow police to monitor downtown Columbia in real time | Local

Efforts to improve street camera surveillance in downtown Columbia to combat crime could take a step forward next week.

A company that provides real-time monitoring software for police called Fusus will present to the Downtown Community Improvement District board of directors at its June 14 meeting. The Improvement District is an independent organization focused on downtown improvement.

The Columbia Police Department plans to purchase software from Fusus that would allow the department to access downtown cameras in real time and review footage.

The Improvement District budgeted $30,000 at its May 20 meeting to reimburse businesses that purchase outdoor surveillance cameras.

Nickie Davis, executive director of the improvement district, said the group would consider reimbursing businesses for a $200 component that would link the cameras to the police network once the city approves the project.

Christian Tabak, spokesman for the police department, said the department would use both city-owned and company-owned cameras. The department would need permission from companies to use its cameras, he said, and companies could selectively grant or deny access to each of the cameras they own.

The program would not use residential cameras, he added.

Currently, Tabak said Columbia police must ask businesses for permission to search their camera footage whenever an incident occurs. He said the department was interested in the software because it would “remove the middleman” by creating a map of all available cameras, each just a click away.

“It’s entirely to help promote downtown safety and security,” Tabak said. “It’s another way to improve response times and make the system we already have much smoother.”

Tabak said it was too early in the process to determine a specific timeline for the project.

Another feature of the software that could improve the efficiency of investigations is its artificial intelligence capabilities. Tabak said an officer could search the software for a specific object — like a black sedan — and the AI ​​would look through the camera footage for the object.

Tabak added that the AI ​​cannot recognize people and does not have facial recognition software.

The AI ​​capabilities would require another component, Davis said, and the improvement district is also considering reimbursing companies about $1,500 for the added component.

Davis said the Improvement District partners with police to deter crime and aid in investigations.

“It’s mainly for safety reasons,” Davis said. “This will hopefully help deter many misbehaviors and help police ensure that any crimes that may occur are dealt with more quickly.”

Columbia City Data website shows there have been three shootings that have resulted in downtown hospitalizations since the start of the year, including a shooting with two non-life-threatening injuries near Harpo’s Bar and Grill on Sunday.

The improvement district Meet will take place at 3:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

David H. Henry