Ion 247 Interactive Video Technologies is a private surveillance company founded by Ed Welden and Claude Estes IV with offices at 3003 2nd Avenue South. Welden is president of the company and Richard Cruit is vice-president.
Formerly headquartered at 2117 Magnolia Avenue, the company was the lone bidder to supply and monitor 40 surveillance cameras for the Birmingham Police Department's "Operation Vulcan's Thunder", which was proposed by Mayor Larry Langford in December 2007.
Ion previously employed two off-duty Sheriff's deputies to monitor cameras installed at private facilities. The company planned to hire 18 additional surveillors to fulfill their contract with the city. The mayor's office indicated that Ion agreed to a minimum of 50% minority participation in their personnel and subcontracts in order to secure the Council's support. In 2009 Ion reported that they had exceeded their minority hiring goal.
As the contract began, the Birmingham Weekly was unable to find incorporation documents for Ion Interactive at the Alabama Department of State or the Jefferson County Probate Office. The company shared its former address with Tech Providers, a company headed by Estes which supplies accounting and payroll software and training to the City of Birmingham.
A five-year contract with Ion Interactive was approved by the Birmingham City Council on January 22, 2008. The company is paid up to $1.4 million per year to install, monitor and maintain 45 cameras. The locations of the cameras are updated monthly as directed by Police Chief A. C. Roper. The contract renews automatically through 2012. Since they were first installed, some camera set-ups have been upgraded with behavioral recognition software and loudspeakers, enabling monitors to announce to potential perpetrators that they are being observed.
- Norris, Toraine (December 17, 2007) "Mayor Larry Langford promises web of cameras to keep watch on Birmingham crime." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (January 17, 2008) "Birmingham City Council committee OKs extra $1.4 million a year to enhance security." Birmingham News
- Whitmire, Kyle (January 22, 2008) "What’s next? RoboCop?" Birmingham Weekly Mixed Media blog
- Whitmire, Kyle (September 10, 2008) "Leapin' Larry throws a bone". Birmingham Weekly Mixed Media blog
- Williams, Roy L. (December 11, 2009) "Ion Interactive security cameras across city cut crime, officer says." Birmingham News
- Tomberlin, Michael (February 18, 2011) "James Bond-like security at city retirement home: Faush Manor 2nd in nation to use system." Birmingham News
- Ion Interactive website