Shining the Spotlight on Security Innovation First Runner-Up: The City of Los Angeles, CA

A fully integrated system takes this city’s security from antiquated to extraordinary.

Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, has more than 900 government buildings and facilities spread out over hundreds of square miles. These facilities range in size and function from city-sponsored day-care centers, to the iconic City Hall, to the Los Angeles Zoo and Observatory.

The City of L.A. maintained an uncoordinated, rather antiquated system of video surveillance for its buildings and facilities. As then security director, Dwayne Healy, put it, “In 2001, we had very little by way of security. There was localized recording, analog matrixes, and black-and-white cameras that weren’t doing the job.”

The city had minimal video coverage in the main Civic Center area and no comprehensive, central surveillance coverage and monitoring. Access control was managed and monitored department by department, and if there were multiple departments in one building, it was quite possible there were multiple access control systems with little or no exchange of information.
The 9/11 tragedy cast in stark relief the critical need to integrate all the city’s security systems and response protocols and bring them under one roof to enhance control and overall effectiveness.

Goals: Coordination and Effectiveness
Using a combination of Urban Area Security Initiative, Department of Homeland Security, and City of L.A. general funds, L.A. embarked on a security system overhaul and expansion designed to give each of its departments the freedom to manage their own areas and security resources within established parameters, but also to allow for central oversight, intervention, and control when necessary.
Los Angeles maintained a robust fiber network, and this infrastructure would serve as the starting point for creating a new city-wide security system to cover the widespread buildings and facilities with security needs ranging from minimal to extensive. In addition to integrating new security systems, Los Angeles would embark on a project to integrate unconnected agencies and personnel to achieve more coordinated, effective procedures and response.

Rule-Based Enterprise Platform
Starting in 2002, city officials, with Dwayne Healy in the lead, began researching available technologies to assist in their ambitious security overhaul. Healy knew early on that video would be central to their plans, and the choice of video management system would set the direction for the entire project. After being introduced to the DVTel intelligent Security Operations Center (iSOC) platform by their consultant, TRC Security, and integrator, RD Systems Inc., they were impressed with the performance and the possibilities.

The iSOC is a full-featured, enterprise-wide intelligent security platform that comprises a traditional DVR, matrix switch and multiplexer in a single, software-based product. The iSOC is based on a distributed architecture, so the city could leverage existing analog products and networking, computer and storage infrastructure. It is a rule-based platform that gives the user the power to acquire information in video, audio or data format; administer and analyze this information; and then take appropriate, timely action.

Each Department a Customer
The iSOC’s open architecture lent itself to integration with a number of other critical security systems to ensure an effective, comprehensive security solution.
Chris Gustafson of RD Systems described the overall project goal: “Each city department would become a customer of the enterprise system. The General Services Department (GSD) could provide overall control and backup, with each department maintaining primary control while still being part of a larger system. This way in the event of a major situation, the GSD could lock down the entire city, comprising roughly 40 departments and 40,000-plus employees.”

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