City of College Park Uses Innovative Tools to Fight Crime

City-wide surveillance camera network delivers results

Iron Sky's video management software was specifically designed for law enforcement and is an excellent fit for our long-term goals. It uses Google Maps as the interface for camera management and navigation which offers several advantages over other VMS products that we evaluated. Since all our officers already use Google Maps, there has been no formal training required to use the Iron Sky software and officers have adopted the technology instantly. Users simply pull up the Iron Sky Web page from any computer at their desks, at Dispatch, or from mobile data terminals in their patrol cars. Once the Web page is loaded, users find the camera location on the map and can view both live and recorded images. All aspects of camera navigation, camera control, live view, recordings and search are accessed from a single Web page. Officers simply select the desired camera from its position on Google Maps and use all functionality without ever having to navigate away from the page.

Moments after one officer was given access to the Iron Sky software for the first time, he was able to identify two known prostitutes working a gas station and quickly dispatched officers to the location. This sent a strong message to the community that the College Park Police Department was going to use the cameras to its fullest extent to reduce crime.

Another significant benefit of using Google Maps is that users can tie other devices and data into the camera system which makes it an even more compelling solution. It is my vision that we will unify all our safety, security and operational applications into the Iron Sky VMS to establish a single platform that allows us to get the right information to the right person at the right time so they can make the right decision.

As the network expands, Iron Sky's Web-based application allows us to grant camera viewing access to other departments in the city as well as grant instant access to county, state and federal agencies in response to an incident. This can be done by simply giving users IP addresses, user names and passwords.

Controlling Costs

We were able to keep the total cost of ownership of the project to a minimum by using our electrical utility company, College Park Power, to perform the physical installation of cameras and wireless equipment. Managing this project required diligent and frequent coordination between the police department, College Park Power Company and Iron Sky's project management staff.

This project needed to be implemented quickly and Iron Sky took on the brunt of the project management duties. Iron Sky has developed a robust delivery methodology from years of working with municipal agencies that allowed it to manage the entire process in a very short amount of time, eliminating issues that typically arise when multiple parties are involved in a single installation. Project managers met regularly with key stakeholders from the police department, city council and local businesses to keep them apprised of the project's progress. Iron Sky's project management staff also gathered information from the client necessary for the staging and configuration of the equipment and provided training and installation manuals to the relevant installation crews prior to the equipment being delivered. The high level of coordination was necessary to provide everyone with the tools to complete their specific tasks.

The result was a project that was on time and on budget.

Force multiplier

College Park police made three arrests within the first four hours of going live with the street-level video surveillance system. "Everything is recorded," Deputy Chief Tom Kuzniacki says. "We can save the recordings and then pinpoint the location. This cuts down a lot on our investigative hours."

Officers are excited about the new technology and its ease of use, facilitated by a simple click of the mouse to gain detailed video footage. High-quality camera images serve as performance management tools for the police department as it works to allocate resources strategically. Early success has also helped College Park build its network of community support.

"If we can send the message to the criminal element to take it someplace else, that is exactly what we want to do," says Don Winbush, president of the Old National Merchant's Association. He plans to facilitate expansion of the camera system beyond College Park city limits into unincorporated Fulton County.

"It's a great sense of relief knowing police are constantly monitoring the city and can see a good range with the camera," adds Virgil Hickmon, general manager of the Wyndham Garden Hotel, which authorized the city to gain a 360-degree view of Old National Highway using a camera on the hotel roof. "I love seeing the camera. It makes me feel good when I drive into work."

Atlanta news outlets have also helped spread the message that College Park has adopted new tools to fight crime. The metro Atlanta CBS affiliate has covered College Park's launch extensively online and during televised news reports.