Welcome to the melting pot

The 'muni' market sizzles with diverse initiatives and partnerships

The city of Dallas is a perfect example of that growth. According to recent research by the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city is the eighth largest and still tracking upward. In fact, Dallas-Fort Worth had the largest numeric rise in population of any metropolitan area between 2006 and 2007, gaining 162,250 residents.

Model of cooperation and public-private collaboration

Perhaps one of the most striking and effective models for cities and municipalities focuses on cooperation and collaboration between businesses, citizens and law enforcement.

This new model has emerged strong and is centered around police, businesses, private parties and private security working together, and the cities of Dallas and Atlanta have in essence pioneered the concept, because it really does 'take a village' to protect cities and municipalities.

Martin Cramer CPP and director of Public Safety for Downtown Dallas Inc. spearheads an extremely successful Public-Private Partnership between police and businesses. Cramer has worked determinedly to build cooperation between the city and its businesses and private entities-for the name of safety and security and his efforts have paid off. Cramer has more than 20 years of experience in commercial real estate security and life safety. He is a past president of the Downtown Security Directors Association and currently on the ASIS 2010 Convention Host Committee.

Cramer works with law enforcement, businesses and private entities in an approach to security and safety that's paying off big. Downtown Stakeholders and Downtown Dallas Inc. funded the city's wireless camera system (some $6 million), which is in the process of being expanded.

Downtown Dallas Inc. has a multi-faceted safety strategy that features a 50-member downtown unit of the Dallas Police Department, a proactive Security Directors Association, the cameras, The Bridge Homeless Shelter and a strong emphasis on citizen involvement and effective programming. Part of this is the Downtown Safety Patrol, a specially trained citizens group that puts more eyes and ears on the streets, as well as a host of other groups and entities that work together to reduce risks and assess threats proactively by sharing intelligence and data.

Cramer said the city's highly successful program actually began nearly 10 years ago, and he attributes its success as well to the forward-thinking Dallas Police Department, especially the work of Vincent Golbeck, who is now assistant chief of police. Cramer said Golbeck's work has been critical to the success of the program and he "opened the doors to effective cooperation and everything we've accomplished."

"Putting a camera on every corner will not stop crime or prevent terrorism," said Cramer. "However strategic camera deployment combined with advanced video analytics and monitoring personnel reduces crime and provides a valuable investigate tool."

Downtown Dallas 2009 camera statistics (90 camera system) are proof: in that year they had 5,800 calls, 1,500 arrests and 90 investigative video disks. "At an operational cost of about $400,000 that's about $266 per arrest," Cramer continued. "The reality is, if not for the cameras, 5,800 calls would not have been dispatched and over 100 cases would not have video evidence. In addition, crime is down 40 percent downtown over the past five years and cameras have played a significant role in that. Take your pick-add four police officers to the street or continue to fund the camera system?"

The brains of the surveillance solution is the Dallas Fusion Center, which uses video management software from OnSSI and ties in cameras from FLIR, Pelco, Sony and Panasonic, as well as leverages Dell servers. Wireless is supplied by Firetide and Bridgewave and also deploys BearCom radios.

Fusion centers

As of July 2009, there were 72 designated Fusion Centers, Dallas included, around the country with 36 field representatives deployed.

A Fusion Center is a terrorism prevention and response center program that began as a joint project between the DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Program. It is designed to gather information from government and the private sectors to aid in safety and security. The Fusion Centers share information at the federal level between the CIA, FBI, DoJ, U.S. Military and state and local level governments, as well as Emergency Operations Centers in the event of a disaster. State and local police departments provide both space and resources for the majority of Fusion Centers. The analysts working there can be drawn from DHS, local police, or the private sector as in the case of Dallas.