ST. PETERSBURG — The city is making its biggest ventures into electronic surveillance at the city marina and port with a plan next year to install 28 cameras.
The City Council approved a $174,786 contract Monday with SiteSecure Inc., a Sanford company that provides surveillance cameras to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
It's part of Mayor Bill Foster's goal to reduce costs by relying on technology, such as video surveillance. Six remote-controlled video cameras have been installed in three city parks in recent weeks as well.
"We're using technology to extend our eyes and ears," Foster said.
The city has a roving security team that keeps an eye on the boats that dock at the port and marina. With 662 boat slips, the marina is the largest operated by a municipality in Florida.
The cameras will focus on the many entry points. George Manemann, the marina supervisor, said a security guard will watch the monitors at all times, but the video stream will also be digitally recorded.
Manemann said the marina doesn't have any security issues right now. Asked how the cameras will help, he said it's an enhancement.
"We won't have a security issue at all with the cameras," Manemann said.
But it does allow for savings when it comes to labor costs.
Security guards will continue to rove the port and the marina, but two part-time positions at the marina were cut in anticipation of the cameras.
"In 18 months, the costs of the cameras are paid back because of the labor savings," said Chris Ballestra, the director of the city's downtown enterprise facilities, which includes the port and marina. "We're able to cover more area full time, and we'll have a broader overview of the port and the marina."
The cameras will be installed next year and should provide an instant savings, said Craig Bowman, a division manager of SiteSecure.
"You can't replace the human eye and how it interprets what it sees," Bowman said. "But the cameras allow one person to cover much more ground."
Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.