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Eye on the river cities

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A digital camera atop the Junction Bridge provides visitors to North Little Rock’s city website real-time video of the Razorback submarine, work along the river, the Clinton Presidential Center and other views of the north and south shores of the Arkansas River in downtown NLR and Little Rock.

The Sony camera, installed at the suggestion of Mayor Patrick Hays as a good way to showcase the city and its work-in-progress Maritime Museum, went online Feb. 3 with a link at www.northlr.org. The camera offers a 340-degree view of the north and south shores and can be manipulated by visitors, who get 60 seconds to scan, tilt the camera up or down and zoom in on scenes if they want.

Steve Nawojczyk, the mayor’s director of youth services, said he’s looking forward to watching the Memorial Day weekend celebration Riverfest on the webcam. Too, he said, “we can keep watch on LR and be sure they are not trying any funny stuff ... we’ve got torpedoes, you know!”

The camera’s zoom capability is not so advanced that it can read people’s checks at a restaurant, as could a model in use in New York City demonstrated to Hays and others, so outdoor diners along the river need not worry about that particular invasion of privacy. (However, a zoom of the lens to loft and condo projects on the Little Rock side clearly show interiors of undraped rooms. Fair warning.)

The city spent about $9,000 to install the camera and pole, Jerry Reagan, city auditor, said. The Sony is enclosed in protective housing; an antenna sends a microwave signal to North Little Rock’s City Services building, which transmits the image to the web server.

Not all computers will be able to use the web cam; several at the Arkansas Times didn’t have enough memory. The one that did got a clear picture of the submarine and the back of the River Market; the Clinton library was obscured by the Interstate 30 bridge.






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