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West Valley City Journal

Sun and cell signals help security cameras keep watch on local businesses

May 06, 2024 10:58AM ● By Darrell Kirby

Solar-powered, mobile surveillance cameras are outside keeping watch on city businesses. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

More businesses and property owners are taking to technology to keep an eye on what’s going on in their surroundings. 

For years cameras have been a staple inside stores, offices, homes and other buildings. 

Now, a growing number of places around West Valley City and elsewhere are setting up mobile solar-powered, cellular-run surveillance cameras in their parking lots and other outdoor spots. 

Many cameras and the software programs that run them are from LiveView Technologies. The American Fork company has developed the electronic eyes which are affixed to small trailers and are equipped with a solar panel which charges the battery that powers the camera.  Information from the cameras is transmitted by cell signal. The cameras themselves are mounted atop a pole, or mast, that can extend as high as 22 feet in the air. 

“That allows them to be deployed rapidly anywhere that’s needed,” said Matt Deighton, LVT’s senior communications manager. “Anywhere there’s sun and cellular, we can drop one of these units.” 

The purpose: Keep areas safe and secure by visually monitoring the comings and goings of people and vehicles for any suspicious or criminal activity. 

“We have more than 60 configurations of different cameras and things we can do with our units” to tailor them to the customers’ needs, Deighton said. 

He says the images are detailed enough to be able to read license plates and other details of vehicles, people, and objects in the area. 

The camera can be set up to send alerts via a mobile app to users if any questionable or unauthorized movement is detected. Deighton says users can even draw boundaries of the scanned area on a screen so that if anyone or anything crosses those imaginary lines, an immediate notification is triggered. 

The cameras are equipped with lighting and speakers enabling the user to see and speak to whomever is below to let them know they are being watched. “The typical camera doesn’t tend to scare anyone away because people don’t even know if those cameras are working,” Deighton pointed out. “But when someone talks down from the loudspeaker, (people) know the camera is working,” they’re being watched, and descriptions can be captured and saved on video. Businesses can, if they choose, share the images with police for investigative purposes. 

Customers rent the units on a subscription basis with costs varying depending on what customers want the cameras to do and the size of the area being monitored. “It allows people to set it up in a much cheaper way than having to buy a large piece of equipment,” Deighton said. LVT also provides a video monitoring service allowing property owners, managers and security teams to access the live and recorded images through the app. “A security team from anywhere in the world can sit and watch what’s happening on that camera and make sure that their property is secure,” he added.

“Typically, we see a reduction of crime…somewhere around 300 yards or so around the unit,” Deighton said. 

West Valley City police spokeswoman Roxeanna Vainuku confirms that is usually the case. “Security cameras are known to deter crime, and while it’s too early to know the full effect of some of the security cameras in our city, we do know that having access to video when a crime does occur is a significant benefit to an investigation and often the successful prosecution of cases,” she said by email. “We are hopeful that businesses with cameras will see a reduction, not only in crimes committed but that the use of video to successfully hold criminals accountable will act as its own deterrent.”

Two of the busier spots the cameras were stationed as of April are at Smith’s Food & Drug, 4065 S. Redwood Road and 7-Eleven at 3510 S. Redwood Road. Both properties and surrounding areas have been the scenes of criminal activity in past years. A new townhome development, Lofts on 35th, at 4555 W. 3500 South, is another site under the watchful eyes of the cameras. A camera is also set up at a housing construction site near 3600 S. 3200 West. 

LVT was started in 2005, one of the early technology firms to establish roots in what is known today as Silicon Slopes, the tech hub stretching from southern Salt Lake County through northern Utah County. Co-founder Rob Porter, who was in the construction industry at the time, had the idea to place cameras at home construction sites so homeowners could watch the progress of their houses being built. People liked what they saw and Porter realized the potential of it all. He approached his colleague Bob Brenner and the budding business opportunity came further into focus. LVT today has nearly 500 employees and its camera systems are used around the world. The company manufactures the devices at a plant in Orem.  λ