Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Wrightsville Beach set to bolster surveillance network with camera upgrades and additions

The Town of Wrightsville Beach will consider spending $88,000 on a new surveillance camera system and adding ones to the network. (Port City Daily/Preston Lennon)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Problems with the Town of Wrightsville Beach’s network of surveillance cameras have prompted local officials to vouch for investing more money into fixing the existing cameras and adding new ones. 

The board of aldermen, the town’s foremost governing body, will meet Thursday afternoon. Wrightsville Beach will consider spending $88,000 to upgrade its surveillance apparatus and add new cameras to the network. 

“The Town’s camera network is experiencing issues,” according to the upcoming meeting’s agenda. 

According to a memo authored by information technology manager Raquel Ivins, there are at least 68 cameras actively recording footage at the beach town. The initial investment into surveillance was made when the town built its public safety facility in 2010.

“The camera system project went to the low bidder,” Ivins wrote in the memo. “They installed approximately 25 Vivotek cameras.” 

In 2016, police sought to upgrade the network, as the existing cameras “were not giving them the camera footage they needed due to their low resolution and location,” according to Ivins.  

A security-integration company was hired by the town, and the Vivotek cameras were replaced with the higher-quality Axis cameras. Most of those cameras were located inside the public-safety facility itself, with others stationed in the town’s bar district. 

According to a 2017 Lumina News article, the town approved a $55,000 expenditure that year to bolster the security system with seven new cameras stationed in areas of heavy traffic. Former police chief Dan House told the outlet that cameras were originally installed “due to vandalism problems.”

Since 2016, Wrightsville Beach invested $344,000 into its security camera apparatus. According to Ivins’ memo, the Axis cameras began to have issues of their own, something cutting in and out, or not connecting at all. The security firm hired by the town, Brady Integrated Solutions, could not rectify the problems. 

“We then called in Johnson Controls to reevaluate,” according to the memo. “They fixed the main issues in one visit.” 

Ivins continued: “When Johnson gave us the original evaluation, they stated that we would need to upgrade the infrastructure soon if we wanted to get the best resolutions out of the cameras we have or if we wanted to install additional ones. We are now at this point.”

The proposal from Johnson Controls, the town’s current vendor, involves an approximate cost of $65,787.26, including the fee of renting a lift for the company to work on the already-installed cameras. 

The town has also proposed an additional expenditure of $18,000 to install a few more cameras, including ones at the Wrightsville Beach Playground and the Causeway Drive gazebo. 

Wrightsville Beach leaders will consider this ordinance and more at the board of aldermen’s meeting — Thursday at 5:30 p.m. — located in town hall. 

Read the full agenda for Thursday’s meeting: here

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