City of College Park Uses Innovative Tools to Fight Crime

City-wide surveillance camera network delivers results


In 2009, College Park had the highest crime rate in metro Atlanta. As a captain with the College Park Police Department and now as Interim Chief of Police, this was unacceptable to me. Reversing that statistic would require innovative crime-fighting tools that delivered results and maximized personnel for a minimum investment. As Interim Chief, I want to supply our officers with as much information as possible to help them make the most informed decisions they can when on patrol.

Bolstered by support from city officials who shared our vision for a safer College Park, the police department developed a long-term strategy which involved city-wide video surveillance. This included updating patrol laptops and departmental access to our network and a program for participation with the community.

The Scope

With a population of about 20,000 residents, the city of College Park covers 10-square miles and is located south of Georgia's capitol. In addition to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the city is home to the world's only convention center connected to a major airport. It also serves as headquarters to the Chick-Fil-A fast food chain as well as Woodward Academy, the largest independent school in the country. Easy access to rapid transit and major interstates has helped College Park cement its reputation as "Georgia's Global City."

College Park partnered with Iron Sky to design and deploy a city-wide video surveillance solution. This phased solution approach would enable any authorized users to view and control any camera at any location from any computer on the city's LAN/WAN. To maximize resources, the police department also needed a solution that was extremely easy to use so that officers could quickly implement the new crime-fighting tools and get the job done.

Iron Sky was selected as the city's vendor because of its extensive wireless expertise and its vast experience working exclusively with law enforcement agencies across the country. The city did not have an existing fiber optic infrastructure to leverage for transmitting camera images back to the police department; therefore, the use of wireless technologies would be critical to the success of the project. Based on the city's requirements, Iron Sky developed a six-phase solution that would install cameras around the city, implement a wireless infrastructure, establish a command center and integrate existing cameras from key private entities throughout the city.

The Deployment

We have completed the first three phases of the plan and have deployed eighteen cameras including Axis Communications Pan/Tilt/Zoom and megapixel cameras that enable officers to monitor high-crime and high-volume entrance/egress points in key areas along Main Street, Old National Highway and Camp Creek Parkway. We selected cameras from Axis based on Iron Sky's recommendation and our own research.

Existing analog cameras in City Hall were also integrated into the system. To provide connectivity, Iron Sky utilized wireless mesh and point-to-point radios from ClearSite Communications Inc., and Ubiquity Networks, to transmit camera images from points around the city to a communications tower on top of the College Park public safety antenna, which is adjacent to the College Park Police Department. Since we do not have the personnel to monitor the cameras at all times, the camera images are recorded using H.264 compression and archived for 30 days a year on a Dell 26-terabyte COTS server and storage solution that can be easily expanded as more cameras are brought online.

Even with the high resolution of the megapixel cameras, Iron Sky was able to deploy wireless equipment that could handle the transmission of large video files flawlessly - even when passing through multiple wireless radios. Wireless mesh and backhaul solutions were employed to achieve the necessary throughput levels at each location using nearly all available frequency ranges for maximum uninterrupted bandwidth.

The Video Management System

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