Frequently Asked Questions





Appropriate questions for inclusion on this page can be emailed to: community_camera@dillinghamdps.us








1.  What is the purpose of the camera system?   The City of Dillingham IP Security System provides security for the port facilities (dockyard and harbor) of the City of Dillingham, as well as security for the physical infrastructure of certain public safety related properties belonging to the citizens of Dillingham.  The primary objectives of a police patrol officer is deterence of criminal activity and preservation of the safety of the public.  It is a simple fact that patrol officers cannot be everywhere at once.  The camera system extends the ability of law enforcement to prevent criminal activity through deterence and promotes public safety in certain specific public locations.

Section 1.14.21 of the Dillingham Department of Public Safety policy regarding the system states, "Technologically-assisted physical surveillance can be an important law enforcement tool. It can facilitate the detection, investigation, prevention and deterrence of crime, the safety of citizens and officers, the apprehension and prosecution of criminals, and the protection of the innocent.  Without regulation law enforcement use of technologically-assisted physical surveillance can potentially also diminish privacy, freedom of speech, association and travel, and the openness of society. This policy regulates the use of technology assisted physical (video) surveillance by the Dillingham Department of Public Safety.

In order to enhance security at specific public locations under the direct control of the City of Dillingham it has been determined that the use of video surveillance equipment may prevent death, injury, losses due to theft or negligence, reduce certain types of criminal behavior, provide for greater public security and aid in the legitimate law enforcement goals of the Dillingham Department of Public Safety. To ensure the protection of individual privacy rights in accordance with the law, this Policy on the Installation & Use of Community Video Security Equipment has been written to standardize procedures for the installation of this type of equipment and the handling, viewing, retention, and destruction of recorded media.  Under no circumstances shall the contents of any captured video recordings be exploited for purposes of profit or commercial publication, nor shall recordings be publicly distributed except as may be required by law. "

2.  Where did the money come from?   The funds for the project came from the taxes each of us pays to the U.S. Government every year and was returned to our community's use via a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

3.  What kind of cameras are they?   The cameras in the project are made by the German company Mobotix AG.  This brand of camera was chosen because these cameras have been in use in Dillingham for several years and have proven themselves in our climate.  There are three Mobotix camera models in this system.  Most of the cameras are the Mobotix MX10 model.  These are the square white boxes mounted in clusters around the port facilities.  They have two lenses - one is a color lens for daytime and the other is a black and white lens for low light operation.  The second most common model in the system is the dual lensed D10 dome camera model used mainly in indoor and some building exterior security.  This camera provides building security for the Public Safety and Fire Department facilities.  The least common camera model (there are only two in the system)  is the vandal proof V10 camera used in the Corrections Center.  One has been placed in each of the two cells used to house combative, intoxicated or emotionally disturbed persons who are brought to the facility and held in seperate cells until they sober up and calm down.  These two cameras are the only two cameras in the system capable of "seeing in the dark" through use of infrared illumination.  All of the camera are capable of sending and receiving audio, however, with the exception of a single camera in the lobby of the Public Safety building, all audio functions on all other cameras have been disabled by default and remain that way by policy.  The cameras have  many features built in by the manufacturer that not only enhance the ability of the units to perform their designed tasks, but to do it in a manner which protects the privacy of people not associated, but adjacent to, areas under security observation.  More information can be found at www.mobotix.com .

4. 
How many cameras are there?   There are a total of 80 cameras in the entire system.  You can view a graphic breakdown of  locations of cameras in the system and the number of cameras at each location here.  In the DDPS security system the camera breakdown by location is:

  Port/Dockyard

26

  Port/Harbor

16

  Public Safety Bldg

21

  Firehall (Downtown)

5

  Firehall (Lake Road)

 6

  Ambulance (Airport)

 1

  Spares

  5

   

5.  Why are there so many cameras?   The M10 model camera, which "sees" in one direction in a narrow strip, has fewer moving parts and is less expensive than the multi-directional D10 camera, which can "see" in two directions at once.  Because of this, most of the exterior cameras are the M10 models setup in a fixed "cluster" to provide coverage of a large area such as a section of the port facility.  The port areas to be covered are large and each requires several of these camera clusters.  None of the cameras in the system have telephoto or "fisheye" lenses.  

6. 
Where are the cameras in Dillingham?   The cameras in the City of Dillingham IP Security System are located at the port facilities (dockyard and harbor), the Public Safety building, the downtown firehall, the Aleknagik Lake Road firehall and inside the ambulance bay at the airport.  Other camera systems in Dillingham are in, and around, a mixture of public facilities and private businesses, such as the BBHA Public Housing on Tower Road, the BBHA Elder Assisted Living Center at the end of D Street, the BBAHC Kanakanak Hospital, the FAA Dillingham Airport Flight Service Station, Wells Fargo Bank and others.  You can view a graphics breakdown of  number and locations of cameras in the City of Dillingham system and the number and locations of cameras at other locations here.

7.  How do they work?   The cameras view a slice of space and can be caused to record an image in a variety of ways.  Since storage space is limited the most common method of recording an image involves detecting movement in a particular area of the viewable frame which causes the image to be stored.  Areas of interest, a gate, a stairwell, a driveway entrance, or a door are defined in each camera and only movement in that area will cause an image to be captured.  Everything else in the view of the camera is ignored.  The motion capture area can be as large as the viewable area, but generally isn't.  An example of a motion capture area set up in the current system can be found here .

Image recording can also be started by the operator,  set to occur at a specific time of day, a scheduled time throughout the day (every 15 minutes as in the case of the images on this web site), can be caused by another event such as a change in light levels (someone turning on or off a light), or the camera can be programmed to record an image at totally random times.  Any images recorded are stored on a server in the Public Safety Building.

8. 
Who watches them?   Mostly no one.  As explained above, the activation of image recording is generally automated.  Per policy only employees trained in the use of the system will conduct active viewing.   System policy directs that live surveillance of an area covered by the system will not be selected in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner and that if security devices make use of more than one technology (visible light video, infrared video, sound, etc.) and the technologies are governed by different rules, the more restrictive rules apply.  Thus, infrared video is restricted to the two intake cells and audio is by default disabled.

Two flat panel large screen monitors in the dispatch provide the ability to physically monitor camera views.  Because of distance from the dispatcher and image size approximately six recognizable images per screen can be monitored per screen.  The camera views chosen  include several Public Safety Building security related views, and security related views of the port facilities.  In calendar year 2005 DDPS dispatchers logged over 175,000 individual telephone and radio contacts and camera monitoring at the dispatch are relative to their primary duties.   Other timed single frame image views can be found on this web site and are intended for public use.

9. 
How long do the captured images remain on the system?   Captured images can be stored on the server indefinately, however, DDPS policy limits their storage life to 20 days unless:

a.  The images become part of a criminal investigation in which case they will be seized and maintained as evidence, or;

b.  The images are seized pursuant to the order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or;

c.  The images are seized in a civil issue involving the City of Dillingham, in which case they will be maintained as evidence.

After 20 days the images not seized under one of the conditions above are automatically erased.

10.  Is audio captured by the system?   The cameras are capable of sending and receiving audio feeds.  With the sole exception of the camera located in the DDPS lobby all cameras have all audio functions disabled by default.  DDPS policy limits the activation of audio recording and/or broadcast to two circumstances, both requiring the written authorization of the Chief of Police:

a.  A Search warrant issued by a court of competent jurisdiction specifying the search and seizure of a particular audio event, or;

b.  A specific exigent circumstance involving the immediate risk of the loss of human life.

11. 
Who can review stored images?   Per DDPS policy the viewing of images stored on the system is limited to authorized members of the Department of Public Safety, the City Attorney, the Dillingham City Manager, or authorized representatives of the City's insurance carrier, and only with the prior written approval of the Chief of Police, or, in the absense of the Chief of Police, the City Attorney.  User level security on the system insures that different passwords are necessary not only to monitor a camera view, but to retrieve an image or modify the settings on a camera or in the system as a whole. 

12. 
Is there any provision regarding expansion of the system?   DDPS policy has been developed to address any requested expansion of the system.  Expansion of the system requires the requesting Department head to submit a request to the City Manager justifying the benefit of the proposed expansion, the location involved (including where any monitoring or recording equipment is located) and the retention schedule for any images captured.  The source of funding for the equipment must be identified in the request.  The request will be reviewed by the City Manager and forwarded to the Chief of Police for consultation after which time a decision will be made whether to approve or disapprove the request.

13. 
Have there been any requests for system expansion and what were the outcomes of the requests?   As of March 1 2006 there have been two requests.  One request for a camera at a city owned building was turned down as there was insufficient demonstrated need.  Requests from the public for a camera at the Dillingham Airport long term parking were turned down due to issues relating to the ownership of the property (State of Alaska) and there being other, more appropriate, mechanisms to provide security (fencing).

14. 
Is there signage to indicate where the cameras are?   Yes.  As deterrence is the primary objective of the surveillance and to provide those potentially subject to the surveillance the option of avoiding it, notice of video security will be posted in the public areas covered in more than one place by signage reading:  VIDEO SECURITY IS IN EFFECT IN THIS PUBLIC AREA

15. 
Are there any hidden cameras in the system?   No.  All of the cameras in the system are out in plain sight.