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The New Bedford Housing Authority (NBHA), founded in 1938, is committed to providing safe, high quality, affordable housing to individuals and families that live on limited incomes. There are nearly 1,750 federal public housing units and 748 state-aided units located across 19 properties in the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Altogether, this provides over 6,000 people with affordable housing options. On top of that, nearly 1,800 federally-funded rental vouchers are made available to help assist with rent payments for another 3,300 men, women and children. Yet in spite of these crucial services, the NBHA runs a lean, efficient operation, with a staff of one hundred dedicated team members. The NBHA's mission is to provide affordable housing while also promoting self-sufficiency, fostering leadership and cultivating sustainable, healthy communities.
To fulfill this mandate, the NBHA’s first priority is to provide residents with a safe, secure space, and the organization has always made it their mission to present clean, well-maintained environments across all properties. However, petty crimes and misdemeanors proved to be a persistent problem, and its analog security systems were ill-equipped to prevent them. To the NBHA, not only was the maintenance of the old cameras prohibitively expensive, but because the cameras lacked responsive capabilities, their blind spots were large and they often failed to record incidents. When events were captured, viewers had difficulty identifying traits such as physical characteristics, clothing and license plate numbers due to the low-resolution of the video, making it not very useful as evidence.
For a variety of reasons, victims and witnesses of crimes are often reluctant to come forward. The NBHA, however, noticed after deploying its Avigilon solution that the security system took the onus off residents by providing round-the-clock monitoring.
By serving as the eyes of the neighborhood, there’s less pressure for individuals to involve themselves in situations that could compromise their sense of safety, and the community knows that help is accessible, even after the property offices are closed for the night. It was especially important for the NBHA to install cameras in places where petty crime has taken place in the past, such as roadways and parking lots; with intelligent video analytics and video security cameras that record misdemeanors, the security system has proven to be an effective deterrent. Community members are so pleased with the system, in fact, that the NBHA has reported its residents have been vocally supportive of the expansion of its network of cameras to cover even more areas and are appreciative when they see new installations.
Another benefit of the Avigilon solution is that it has enabled law enforcement to better serve the NBHA’s communities. The housing authority has always had a close working relationship with the local police force, and now that both parties utilize Avigilon systems, their platforms are cross-functional. Investigators can easily access the cameras to view video feeds in real-time or export footage for evidence.
The process of collecting evidence has also been expedited. In the past, compiling clips for court proceedings was a tedious, analog process; but now editing, formatting, duplicating and sharing high-definition video has become a more seamless experience.
“The clear detail of the video and easy export features allow us to collaborate more effectively with law enforcement, which helps protect our community.” — Mr. Beauregard
Furthermore, the clarity of the images assists police and prosecutors with identifying criminals beyond a reasonable doubt so that restitution can be paid or charges can be brought.
Another issue that the NBHA struggled with in the past was trying to identify unauthorized visitors or tenants within its public housing communities. There were frequent reports of unknown persons on the properties, but these weren’t always vandals or mischief-makers; oftentimes, they were family members or additional tenants that residents had chosen not to report to the housing authority. Having clear video evidence enables the NBHA’s team to have meaningful conversations with the community around the rules and codes of conduct so that the appropriate steps can be taken to ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for.
The NBHA’s vision is to ensure sustainable and selfsufficient communities, even in the face of uncertainty, and its mission is to nurture safe neighborhoods with quality housing and to encourage economic development. With its comprehensive Avigilon security solution, the housing authority is taking proactive measures to prevent crime and making sure that this mission and vision stay a reality for all residents.
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