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New legislation requires convenience stores to install high-def cameras

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Apparently, the city of Milwaukee is fed up with poor-quality video footage, too. A new piece of legislation passed by city councilors last week will require convenience stores to install not one, but two high-definition surveillance cameras.

According to an article in Milwaukee Magazine, the Milwaukee Police Department requested the legislation, which is intended to provide more reliable video evidence for criminal prosecutions.

Under the new ordinance, stores must have at least two “high resolution surveillance security cameras.” One camera must be pointed at the store’s entrance to capture people’s faces as they go in and out, and the other must be focused on the store’s cash register area. Stores will also be required to store the video on recordable CDs or DVDs, thereby disqualifying the old videotape systems still used by some stores.

Currently, stores are only required to keep video recordings for 72 hours. Under the new rules, they would have to keep the discs for at least 30 days.

I'm a little confused by the storage requirements of this legislation. This makes it sound like convenience stores will be recording all footage directly to discs (either CDs or DVDs), but chances are they're just keeping footage stored on a hard drive for 30 days, right? Usually, footage isn't transferred to a disc unless it's an actual incident that police need to use for forensic purposes, otherwise that's a heck of a lot of CDs, right?

Anyway, I think this is interesting that the city is requiring private businesses to improve their video surveillance programs. While this legislation is directed at convenience stores that are considered "high risk" businesses, I wonder if this concerns those in the private sector about the precedent this legislation could be setting? While I'm sure that most folks reading this blog agree that video surveillance should actually be a useful tool and provide clear images, there is a cost burden associated with such legislation. I'm sure there are some convenience store owners in Milwaukee who aren't happy about having to buy new digital, high-res equipment this week (but if you're an integrator in Wisconsin, you might want to get on this one).