Petersburg Pilot -


Petersburg Harbor installs security camera system


Suzanne Ashe

With funds from the Department of Homeland Security, the Petersbug Harbor is now under 24-hour camera surveillance.

Call it added security, or call it Big Brother, the Petersburg Harbor has six new high-definition security cameras affixed to various locations.

Two “fixed,” or hard-wired cameras, and four wireless cameras, have been installed in the North, Middle and South harbors. The cameras also capture activity in 3.5 miles of area including: the fueling station, parking lots, garbage dumpsters, and commercial cruise line routes. The recordings feed back to the Harbormaster's office.

“The system is up, and running and recording,” said Harbormaster Glorianne Wollen.

The surveillance system, which is powerful enough to run up to 250 cameras, can store recordings up to 60 to 90 days, depending on recording speed. Port administration staff will be able to monitor traffic in and out of the harbor, as well as, zoom-in on accidents and criminal activity.

“We don't really know what we are doing with the recordings yet,” Wollen said.

The cameras look a bit like darkened light fixtures. The lenses are moisture-proof, heated, motion sensor-triggered, and night-vision equipped. They can pan, tilt, and zoom.

A grant from the Department of Homeland Security will pick up the tab for the new high tech system.

The winning bid of $62,000 went to Alaska Commercial Electronics (ACE) of Petersburg. The company has until May 31st to complete the installation and “iron out the kinks,” Wollen said.

For Wollen and her staff, the cameras provide an added security measure, which is greatly needed throughout the busy summer months.

“During the summer there's a lot of traffic, this way we'll be able to see what's going on at a glance,” she said. “We're manned 24 hours a day. Often there is just one person on duty. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out if someone is patrolling the South Harbor, the other areas are vulnerable.”

The six cameras feed into a central computer and display in a split-screen format on a 46-inch, flat-screen TV.

“I think most people are excited; the fact that their livelihood, their property is being looked after,” Wollen said. “Some people may roll their eyes and call it 'Big Brother,' but it's just another set of eyes on the harbor,” she added.

According to Wollen, if any illegal activity is spotted on the monitors, it will be immediately reported to police. But, she also admitted that she has not yet worked out the details with local authorities, regarding the recording of illegal activity.

“People know the [surveillance] system is here. Hopefully it will be a deterrent too,” she said, adding that illegal dumping has been a problem in the past. Everything from dead animals to large kitchen appliances has been disposed of in harbor dumpsters.

“We will pass on the costs [of disposal fees] to any abusers who illegally use the dumpsters,” said Port Administration Office Manager Ed Tagaban.

Tagaban also mentioned problems in the harbor that have included boat burglaries, the theft of laptop computers, and random acts of vandalism.


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