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2008-03-19 14:59:00

Keeping an Eye on Property to Keep Tenants Safe, Reduce Crime

Historically, public housing has been plagued with high crime rates and as a result unable to serve as the government's answer as a safe refuge for those it was designed to occupy. The challenge, for decades, has been how to keep housing for those it was meant to provide shelter for, while keeping out those intent on destroying it for personal gain, through illegal activities. The advent of new surveillance systems is slowly changing these environments back to peaceful communities with occupants and building owners welcoming the benefits these systems now provide.

Public housing complexes in Atlantic City were recently retrofitted with surveillance systems which allow attendants to monitor whose coming and going more accurately. "The goal of the system is to provide a watchful presence which will assist in getting rid of those who shouldn't be there and aid in prosecuting criminals at-large," explains Zsolt Sapy, vice president of corporate sales for Uniondale, N.Y. based Pro-Active Business Solutions, Inc. While surveillance systems are nothing new in many multi-housing complexes, the technology used is. "The surveillance system that we designed for this application uses real-time technology, employing wireless connectivity that can be monitored from the on-site viewing room or via the Internet," Zsolt states. The ability to monitor over the Internet provides owners of multiple housing complexes access to their properties anytime they want.

Pro-Active was contacted by Great Neck, New York-based real estate management firm JJJ Properties of New Jersey, LLC to design a system and install it at their multi-housing complex in Atlantic City. "When we first arrived on the scene there had been several serious crimes including multiple shootings. The drug related activities where also on the rise." The complex consisted of over 200 Section 8 housing units spread across three multi-story buildings with courtyards and one main entrance. The objective was to bring about an environment free from activities which put the tenants who belonged there, at risk.

The housing complexes: School House Apartments, Liberty Apartments and Disston Apartments located in Atlantic City have seen drug-related activities decrease along with other unwanted activities since the system was installed, according to Mike Yeroush of JJJ Properties. "We absolutely love the system and the effect it has on reducing crime. Drug traffic has been reduced by over 50 percent," he says. Their reputation of being known as the worst apartment complexes in the state is already becoming a distant memory and the culprits are quietly going away.

The system Pro-Active Business Solutions designed involved the placement of nearly 300 cameras throughout the School House Apartments complex routed back to the main viewing area, which has two-to-three trained security attendants monitoring the entire complex 24-hours a day. "Prior to the advancements in this technology, a complex such as this would have a few cameras scattered around the main entrance. The technology used in the past was not digital, as it is now, and was really not that user friendly. As a result it accomplished very little in the way of being a part of a company's overall security package."

In order to make the cameras unobtrusive and safe from vandalism, the wiring and cameras where housed inside thick steel pipes. "Nothing is vandalism proof but this is as close as one can get." Pro-Active had to install the system in a way that resulted in every camera going live the second it was mounted, otherwise it would be tampered with. "The building had to remain occupied so we had to get creative and it worked."

Since the system went online there have been multiple arrests and a more peaceful environment is now being realized. "Operators have the tools to monitor what is going on and relay that information back to the police, the information is stored or sent directly to the police station where it has been used in criminal prosecutions." The goal to deter crime, change behavior and restore a better living environment has been achieved.

About Pro-Active Business Solutions

Located in Uniondale, NY, the company was formed to meet the challenge businesses face when protecting property from theft, fraud, shoplifting and other illegal activities through surveillance applications aimed at loss prevention. Pro-Active Business Solutions, are providers of surveillance solutions in sensitive environments such as housing and other challenging locations where the presence of strategically placed monitoring systems will limit property losses. The company works with its clients to design a surveillance package to keep its losses down and its operations vital. 

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