West Sacramento Port Upgrades Video

It takes an intricate and well-established security infrastructure to protect a port, even a small one such as the Port of West Sacramento. Following strict security regulations from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard, the Port made the commitment to install a new video surveillance system.

At the entrance to the facility contract security officers from All Phase Security watch camera views of the port 24/7 in real-time and they can also view video archives as needed. They conduct virtual tours of the premises with PTZ to make sure all is well. Over 30 cameras, including Sony fixed cameras and PTZ models as well as FLIR thermal imaging cameras supply views throughout the port, and a video management software system from OnSSI provides a simplified, intuitive way to manage video feeds effectively.

“Digital systems are still pretty expensive, and it takes foresight to understand that the investment is worth it,” said Tim Huntsinger, chief operating officer, All Phase Security, a consultant on the new video system installed at the port. “The city of West Sacramento is showing that a small city with a small port is willing to take on the challenge of installing a new system with an eye toward future growth.”


Port provides easy access

The inland Port of West Sacramento is located about 90 miles northeast of San Francisco, at the Sacramento River Deep Water Channel in the City of West Sacramento. Centered in one of the richest agricultural and industrial regions in the world, the port has been an integral part of the community since terminal construction began in 1962 and the first ship arrived in 1963. The deep-water port helps to lower freight costs, create local jobs and provide industrial development to the area.

The 43-mile channel reaches from the Sacramento River into Rio Vista through the Delta into the City of West Sacramento, located in Yolo County. In 2005, the City of West Sacramento took control of the Port of Sacramento and renamed it in 2008 as the Port of West Sacramento. The port provides easy access to shipping for farmers in Northern California, especially those exporting bagged and bulk rice.

When the Port of West Sacramento was looking to upgrade the video system, they brought All Phase Security in as a consultant. The project started in January 2010 and was completed the following August.

All Phase Security handles physical security at the port and employs about 10 security officers whose main missions are access control and perimeter security. All Phase Security reports directly to port management, which is part of the West Sacramento city staff. Officers include a roving vessel patrol in the port and a 24-hour officer stationed at the gate to monitor ingress/egress and to keep watch on a monitor displaying video from the surveillance system.

Having witnessed the evolution of voice-over-IP in the telecommunications market, system installer World Telecom & Surveillance Inc., (WT&S) Redding, Calif., was well-equipped to oversee the Port of West Sacramento’s transition to networked video. A low-voltage contractor for 10 years, WT&S has seen its business evolve into the surveillance field for the last six.


Fiber and wireless transmission

The signals from over 30 cameras located throughout the port’s premises are transmitted across fiber-optic networks, including about 30,000 feet of new fiber installed by WT&S as well as wireless devices. There is a run of 24-strand single mode fiber from each guard station to the server, a Dynamic Network Factory Security (DNF Security) Seahawk server that is the video management engine. It is attached to a RAID5 array for 24 terabytes of video storage (about 30 days). The server, installed in an above-ground vault, runs OnSSI’s IP-based video management software.

Two DNF Security video monitoring workstations, one at each guard gate, run the Ocularis Client. The network is used solely for the video system; a separate network is used for the port’s day-to-day business. Six-strand multi-mode fiber runs from the server to each network location. The use of fiber-optic cables enables network signals to be transmitted for longer distances than Ethernet cabling. A significant upgrade in the fiber network was undertaken to accommodate the video network; the fiber upgrade will also likely find additional uses in the future as the port grows.

During the original installation, OnSSI’s legacy NetGuard EVS was used as the client viewing software and the Ocularis Client was later installed after the project was complete. The operators like the virtual joystick for PTZ and the ability to browse recorded video based on time increments or activity. They also like that the screen layout is simpler and “flows much better,” according to Charlie Rossiter, WT&S technician. Port management can access the system remotely using the city’s IT network, but would only use it when looking for something specific.

The platform runs on standard IT servers and adheres to and supports recognized industry standards, including integration with a range of physical security and camera devices. Events can be investigated using instant review and digital PTZ during live monitoring. Targets can be detected automatically using video motion detection. All Phase Security’s officers can follow any moving targets with PTZ cameras.

Across the Sacramento River from the port, on remote sites, two mobile wireless surveillance trailers, run by solar power and diesel generators, each include a roughly 30-foot-tall mast on which three Sony PTZ cameras and one FLIR pan and tilt thermal imaging camera are mounted. Firetide HotPort 6000 wireless mesh nodes are used to transmit video signals from the surveillance trailers to the server. Battery backup and diesel generators ensure continuous power during the night. An upgrade is planned to provide solar panels large enough to allow the trailers to run solely on solar power.

The cameras across the river are used to view the opposite shore and access to the waterway. Offering views back at the physical facilities of the port, the cameras help to make sure no one is gaining unauthorized access. In case of a natural disaster or other emergency, the trailers could be redeployed to provide surveillance of other locations. The port also uses a Talk-A-Phone emergency broadcast system.


Protecting the wide open perimeter

The system secures the perimeter against any trespassers and ensures the integrity of the fence line. The port is located along a main roadway in West Sacramento, where vehicle, foot and bike traffic are common. If there are fishermen along the waterway, security looks to make sure they maintain a position away from the port docks. Video feeds also help security officers look for any activity in the port that is out of the ordinary or involves a restricted area. They can view traffic patterns at the port, and view work crews, contractors or vendors working inside the ports. Cameras view along the roadways of the port, along the docks and the waterway leading to the port.

Huntsinger affirmed that the Port of West Sacramento’s investment in building an infrastructure to accommodate an IP-based video system is worth it and will provide additional benefits in the future.