Since the spring of 2008, Lodi residents have been able to go to the city’s website and click on the “Downtown webcam” link and see what was happening in the heart of the city.
Teenagers bored on a Friday night could click the link to see if they recognized any friends hanging out in front of Lodi Stadium 12 Cinemas. Others could check to see what was happening at the annual Street Faire or Farmers Market, or watch the floats drive down School Street during the holiday season’s Parade of Lights.
The link to the “Downtown webcam” was removed from the city’s website Monday morning.
City spokesman Jeff Hood, said that while the link to the webcam was still up on the website, the connection with the camera hadn’t been working for some time.
That was because the programming that allowed the camera to supply video images of Downtown Lodi to anyone in the world needed to be reconfigured. In addition to this, the person responsible for the reprogramming no longer works for the city, Hood said. “I believe the camera works. It’s just that the configurations needed to get the video signal through and on the website changed and it hasn’t been a priority to get it reconfigured,” he said.
The camera was installed on the movie theater building and went live in the spring of 2008 showing streaming video of the happenings at the School Street and Elm Street intersection to anyone in the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The camera equipment cost the city $2,900 and was meant to drive interest in Downtown.
In January 2008, the City Council approved up to $10,000 to install the camera at School and Elm streets, with another possible camera to be located a block away at School and Pine streets. The second camera never materialized. The $2,900 for the first camera was the only money spent.
The live-streaming camera highlighting Downtown was the brainchild of former City Manager Blair King, who was inspired by similar webcams in Stockton, Times Square in New York City and a small Alaskan town.
City Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce was the mayor of Lodi in 2008 when the webcam was approved. She said the purpose of the camera was two-fold — draw people to Downtown, and allow parents to check up on their kids who were at the movie theater.
Mounce said she used the webcam a number of times, and she feels the city got its money’s worth.
She said she’s sad to see the webcam go, especially following a revitalization effort that has brought life back to the Downtown area.
“I’d love to have it back up and running,” Mounce said. “What better time to show what’s going on in Lodi than when things have really taken off?”
Hood said statistics weren’t kept as to how many people viewed the webcam over the years. He also said that because the camera didn’t record, it was never used as a crime fighting tool by the Lodi Police Department.
Hood, who serves as the city’s webmaster as well as the director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, said he had been meaning to take down the link to the “Downtown webcam” for some time. He said inquiries about the status of the webcam prompted him to remove it from the website Monday.
Contact reporter Todd Allen Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.