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  • Writer's pictureJon Polly

Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) - The Eyes Have It

Public-Private Partnerships (otherwise known as P3s or PPPs) are not a new topic. In recent years, P3s have been a buzz word as cities grow in size, population, and innovation. Smart Cities are the next P3 opportunities to promote growth, technology, and an increased Return on Investment (ROI) as many of the IoT (Internet of Things) platforms work to converge all these things together. P3s seek to allow the city as a whole, to live better more fulfilling lives. Popular P3s in history have been the Transcontinental Railroad, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Interstate Highway System1. While these projects are massive in scale, with all the glitz and glam, cities run on small P3 programs today. 

So what is a Public-Private Partnership? The Encyclopedia Britannica gives the definition that a P3 is a partnership between an agency of the government and the private sector in the delivery of goods or services to the public.

There are many types of P3 models, from energy negotiation, to transportation, to security, and everything in between. They are the essence for most Smart Cities and IoT solutions. Many P3s require long term contracts to provide the service. Contracts take time to set up in any situation, and long term contracts bring their own role of red tape. 

So why a P3? Everyone knows that cities have all the money. I mean, isn’t that why we pay taxes? A simple fact is that the Public Sector cannot pay for everything. Many cities struggle to pay for needed services, and that is when there isn’t a crisis. 

For this article I want to touch on security, as it is one of the easiest P3s to work. It doesn’t take a long term contract. The service doesn’t require much from the Private entity. There are some added benefits to both partners. Quite simply, Public Safety is absolutely needed and one of the first to get budgets cut. Why should police departments face camera constraints? This is 2019. There are security cameras everywhere. Cameras are eyes on every corner, in every building, on almost every doorbell. One study recently stated that an individual in the US is captured on a security camera 70 times a day at least3. Some of us are probably caught on significantly more than that. 

Should Police Departments be allowed access to Private entity video is the question? 

There are Pros and Cons like in any situation. Public Safety P3s are now beginning to embrace the sharing of this data as the Pros outweigh the Cons. What if the cameras on a business were able to stop the murder, rape, or assault at the business next to it?  In the current political climate where Police Officer’s Judgement is in question, a camera has no judgement. It doesn’t care. It is going to report what it sees. The eyes are always watching.

There are methods to being able to share video. The methods are on a continuum scale and are highly customizable. Each individual Partnership or group of Partners would need to be evaluated to bring the right solution. The methods may involve identifying camera locations to fully integrating cameras into the Police Department’s Video Management System (VMS). There are also customizable ways on whom and how it is paid for. 

Methods are important, but the outcome is what matters

The outcome is this. A private company may afford to spend a small amount of money and provide the Police Department with the video footage. The Police Department or a Third-Party Benefactor may offer to help pay for video transmission technology. The company insurance likes that the police department has access to the video. While the police department will have access, it is common that the police are not monitoring the private video unless something occurs. 

The police depend on P3 video in many cases for a couple of reasons. While they are not monitoring it, they do pull it up when calls come up in the area. Faster response times because a fellow officer can advise suspect description and weapon. Faster response times makes for faster apprehension. Armed with the video from the private company and officer eyewitness it helps put the bad guy away for a longer period of time. At the end of the day, the private company has not only helped itself with faster responses, but another bad guy is sent to jail. Imagine if a trained person (Police Officer) was able to view video and was to identify immediately the suspect by name. No guess work. The next crime is stopped because the officer had the video. 

Public-Private Partnerships work. They are in many cities today. It doesn’t require a big city with a big budget. It requires each company giving a little to build a safer city. 

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