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New closed circuit television security cameras will be installed in the CBDs of Blenheim and Picton as a public safety measure. At the same time, a free public WiFi service will be installed, enabling people in either town centre free access to the internet with their laptops, tablets and smartphones.
There are economies of scale in getting both services together as the CCTV system is designed to ‘co-host’ the Wifi technology.
The new CCTV system will replace the eight aging security cameras installed around Blenheim in 2004-05 at the request of retailers and the Police but which are now beginning to fail. For several years, Picton’s Police and the Picton Business Group have been lobbying for security cameras to be introduced to their town centre.
It’s expected the introduction of Wifi will ease some of the crowding at the libraries in both towns where nationally-funded free internet access is available through the public library service.
The Council has considered six proposals from businesses interested in installing the CCTV system, selecting Network Tasman Limited as best able to meet the requirements which include service to 30 camera locations.
Blenheim ratepayers currently pay for the existing security system through their rates and the existing reserves from this rating source is sufficient to replace the Blenheim system.
The installation costs for Picton will be funded from Forestry Reserves with future running costs addressed through the Annual Plan.
The cameras will be located at sites that are either areas of interest in terms of public safety or important Council assets. Linking existing CCTV cameras at the Library and Alfred Street parking building into the new system will also be explored.
The Council and the Police will be able to view all camera feeds.
Mayor Alistair Sowman said it makes sense to introduce the two measures together.
“I think everyone understands the value of security surveillance and, as digital technology speeds forward, free Wifi is part and parcel of being a ‘smart and connected’ region,” he said.
“This means people can browse the internet, deal with their emails, tweet or chat on Facebook from the parks and outdoor cafes around either town. It’s a service that is expected by tourists and being used by more and more people as they conduct their business on the move.”
The new service will provide comprehensive free Wifi in the CBD areas of both towns although the exact coverage area has yet to be determined.