Cameras to aid Super Bowl traffic, security


At busy intersections downtown, there are traffic lights and police blue light cameras, but what are the black boxes alongside them on some poles near Lucas Oil Stadium?

Drivers downtown were also confused by the new additions.

"I don't have the first clue. They're clearly watching something," said one driver.

"I just noticed them when you mentioned it," said another.

"I think they're cameras," said a nurse en route form work.

"They are very good cameras. They are state of the art. They are able to see in the dark," said security consultant Peter Beering.

They've been installed just in time for the Super Bowl, at spots like South and West Streets, a block from the stadium. But why not just stick with the blue light cameras already in place?

"They both move up and down side to side. What's nice about the new cameras we've got is they're digital cameras. They're more of a high-definition camera, so it allows us a much more clear picture and ability to zoom in more than we could with the other cameras," said IMPD Deputy Chief Michael Bates.

That means clearer up-close images of license plates and faces, too. But there will be no facial recognition software hooked up to the cameras, at least not in the near future.

"It serves as a good deterrent to crime," said Bates. "Especially if people know they are there. A lot of time, it helps to even solve crime."

Police will monitor the cameras from the command post they're sharing with federal agencies. If they see suspicious activity, they can move officers in to check it out.

"It adds to the overall security plan for the Super Bowl," Bates said.

But the cameras are trained on traffic, too, and managing that, in which most of the drivers may be out-of-towners trying to find I-70 in the dark is critical. Officers watching the cameras can act fast to change stop-and-go lights or divert it. That's a big advantage, according to Beering.

"We don't want them to go back and say, 'Wow. I had a great time visiting Indianapolis, except for the five- hour traffic jam in which they may have gotten stuck," he said.