Inside Atlanta’s video integration project

Looking to build a city-wide surveillance network on par with similar systems in cities such as Chicago and New York, the Atlanta Police Foundation is in the initial stages of a video integration project known as Operation Shield.

Atlanta Police Foundation President and CEO Dave Wilkinson and Grant Hawkins, director of programs for the foundation, joined an SIW Webinar Thursday on the topic of "Defining Your Municipal Surveillance Strategy" to discuss the project.

According to Wilkinson, Operation Shield was born out of a vision from the Atlanta Security Council and when completed, will integrate thousands of cameras across the city from both the public and private sector.

The purpose behind the camera project is to create a force multiplier, which Wilkinson said will be accomplished through a three-pronged approach that includes video integration, real-time alerts and a radio frequency that will allow area businesses to communicate directly with the Atlanta Police Department’s 911 center.

The project’s initial phase, which is expected to be up and running in June, will include between 400 and 500 cameras that cover the city’s downtown and midtown areas. The video integration center will be co-located with the 911 center.

While some communities across the country have seen resistance to such systems, Wilkinson said that the Atlanta business community has been very open to the idea.

"The buy in was pretty simple. I think everyone understands the value of integrating all of these systems," he said. "I would say overall, it has been a real easy sell."

Looking to avoid some of the pitfalls of similar video integrations, Hawkins said that the foundation visited with officials in other cities including London, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles to ask them what they learned to create a best-in-class system.

"We’ve been able to identify the pitfalls to prepare for moving forward," he said.

Among some of the considerations officials are taking into account with the Atlanta surveillance system, according to Hawkins, include weighing the benefits of having an open system or a closed system, communications infrastructure (bandwidth, wireless, and fiber networks), camera resolutions, and the specialties of individual integrators. Hawkins said that the Atlanta system will eventually utilize a combination of fiber and wireless mesh technology.

Wilkinson estimated that the total project would need between $30 million and $40 million in funding. The project is currently receiving $3.6 million from a variety of sources.


Interested in Municipal Video Surveillance? Join your peers at Secured Cities 2011, the premier conference on municipal video surveillance and urban security initiatives -- May 10-11, 2011, Atlanta, GA. More info at