Left, Martin Cramer of Downtown Dallas Inc. and John Watson, chairman of BearCom and integrator on the camera solution deployed in Dallas, flank the impressive tactical Mobile Command Center (MCC) purchased by the city to enhance its surveillance operations.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy : Deborah O'Mara
The Dallas Fusion Center hosts other federal and state organizations as well as its own personnel in an inter-agency approach to security and safety.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy: Deborah O'Mara
The world is changing. We can no longer live in our own personal silos. Technology is merging and touching every part of our lives-and integrators have to learn how to parlay systems and services as essential solutions for this vertical market.
Municipalities and cities are a melting pot of people, places, risks and threats. There's potentially high crime, gang activity and even foreign threats. Approximately 62 percent of the U.S. population lives in cities, according to 2000 statistics and more than 174 million people live in areas with municipal governments.
Some of our largest cities in the U.S. have been identified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as having a high risk of terrorist attacks. This vertical market also has to work with businesses and tourists and address vagrants and supervise rallies and other large gatherings. The market is diverse and deep and may include government, utilities, public/cultural venues, convention centers and stadiums and critical infrastructures.
The opportunities are many for the value-added reseller who can bring integrated solutions to the table that save money and manpower while adding efficiencies. Paramount is the ability of the system to grow with the city and address current and future needs, as well as provide value in total cost of ownership.
For cities and municipalities, cameras and surveillance has in many cases replaced and augmented 'boots on the ground,' but the approaches are as varied as the cities they protect. Cities like Chicago, for example, have deployed hundreds of cameras, while others such as Richmond, Calif., target primarily high-crime locations. Wireless cameras and signaling and mesh networks are critical components for the cities, which are often stretched across vast terrains. Video is also a much-used and integral component to transit and traffic management and proactive risk assessment.
On the law enforcement front, technology is the first responder's friend and gives users the ability to target their response with two-way radios, mobile video and other mediums that incorporate instant messaging and live video feeds. Global positioning systems (GPS) are used to track officers, fleets and even offenders, as police move increasingly to digital technology and Internet-based services that allow them to do their jobs more effectively and incorporate added intelligence. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and more are helping officers as well, getting alerts out to the public, keeping cities aware of gatherings and fostering overall situational awareness.
Leveraging technology for safety
Technology is the helping hand cities and municipalities have been looking for, but funding dollars are meager or non-existent, adding to the challenge for the systems integrator. Budgets are stretched and communities are searching for ways to leverage systems and services and in general, do more with less.
"This market is all about putting intelligence in place for our public safety professionals," said Steve Russo, director of Physical Security Technology, IBM Security Services, New York.
"We are seeing a push from closed networks to open platforms and the ability to take and gather intelligence from IP devices. We are taking information from video and transactions and events and turning it into intelligence," he said. "Technology is not replacing people but allowing them to become more productive."
IBM and the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) recently implemented an advanced city-wide intelligent security system. The specification is a part of Chicago's Operation Virtual Shield, a project that encompasses one of the world's largest video security deployments.
Russo said there are various levels of maturity and acceptance of technology within municipalities and cities. "In Chicago, for example, forward thinkers are looking at how to take the information and prevent incidents by examining patterns and trends over time and using data mining and analysis in a proactive manner," Russo added.
Crowd control and remote access
Dublin, Ohio is host to many large events that create an influx of people, including the PGA tournament. The city has a population of 40,000 and that number can balloon to over 70,000 any given day.
Dublin's previous solution to crowd and parking lot monitoring was dedicated police officers on motorbikes. With a new wireless surveillance system, they found the solution of sending a URL to the police force with the live feed of an incident more efficient.
Northwestern Ohio Security Systems Inc., Lima, Ohio, city management and IT staff built the installation on the unified Milestone Systems video management software platform running on the city's IT infrastructure backbone.
Technical Manager John Kostelac of Northwestern Ohio Security Systems said remote access was a key feature for the city and works with its goals to keep citizens safe. "It's seamless and centralized," Kostelac said.
Earlier analog surveillance in Dublin did not provide clear video evidence, so Northwestern opted to install the wireless IP video system. At the central command center at police headquarters, Milestone XProtect Enterprise is running on two HP servers with 14TB storage arrays, a Cisco network infrastructure and about 60 network video cameras from Axis and IQeye megapixel cameras from IQinVision.
"Network mapping and wireless allow us to use the cameras remotely from the central station," said Jay Somerville, Technical Services Bureau Director, Dublin Division of Police.
According to Somerville, as a result of the installation sharing information is a more streamlined process. Police and other city officials have access to the Milestone client interface, with 61 police and 17 dispatch personnel using it to keep the streets safe and secure.
Somerville said it was less expensive to install an open IP video solution as opposed to a 'forklift' upgrade of the analog system. "It's amazing: I saved a significant amount of money because the system ties in everything on one common platform."
In the clouds and virtualization
Cost savings and the ability to grow in the future are top of mind for most cities and municipalities. For the third largest metropolitan area in New York State, the city of Rochester reduced crime by some 80 percent, attributing the drop to its new citywide surveillance system. The drop in crime is also helping to revitalize local businesses.
Rochester deployed Pivot3 Serverless Computing as part of its 100-plus camera system. It leverages six Pivot3 CloudBanks running Genetec's Omnicast video management software.
"The city required a solution with a high level of reliability so that component or server failures wouldn't interrupt the capture of video or access to recorded video," said Paul Zucker, chief technology officer of Avrio RMS, the integrator on the project. "We heard about Pivot3 storage with embedded virtual servers from other municipalities and were convinced that applying virtualization to this environment would provide the high availability and simple expansion the city needed while staying within budget." Avrio RMS Group has protected several U.S. cities with its solutions and also events such as the presidential inauguration and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. It has offices in Buffalo Grove, Ill., and Easton, Md.
Todd McCormack, Rochester Police Department officer, said video surveillance is a top priority for the city. "We have experienced tremendous success and continue to look at expanding the project. We require a storage solution that can easily and dynamically grow over time, enabling the addition of more cameras and extended retention times as video capacity evolves."
The challenges are diverse and growing as cities morph into mega centers. Demographic research points to continued growth in densities in most U.S. cities. By 2040, the population of the U.S. will be 400 million, with 80 percent of the growth in the next 30 years coming from these urban centers.
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.
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.
Currently Downtown Dallas Inc. is raising $32,000 to build out a new DPD Camera Monitoring Center. "We will configure the Center with six workstations with two 28-inch screens and several 60-inch Sony flat panel displays for large picture enhancement," said Cramer. "OnSSI is upgrading the system software with the latest video analytics."
Crime is down 18 percent downtown this year (2010) on top of a 32 percent drop since 2004. Camera center operators and the video system is catching more illegal activity.
BearCom, based in Dallas, has been the go-to integrator since the onset of the program several years ago. John P. Watson, chairman of BearCom, continues to work with Cramer and the city on its video surveillance initiatives. He specified the custom-built Mobile Command Center (MCC) funded by the Dallas Police Department and the private sector. The MCC integrates with the mesh network of downtown cameras and is used for rallies, tactical operations, disasters or even hostage negotiations, although Watson said the latter has not materialized.
The MCC is manufactured by LDV and offered by BearCom. BearCom partnered with LDV, Motorola, Firetide, Dell, Cisco, AgileMesh, Ratheon JPS, Panasonic, RGB Spectrum, Firecom, NEC and Tyco to specify the vehicle for the Dallas operations. BearCom is a nationwide dealer and integrator of wireless solutions equipment.
"For cities, the budget is a major challenge," said Watson. "Cities and municipalities have been hit hard with budget cuts, so the system solution has to show a good return on investment. It needs to provide safety and security for citizens and more technology to work with."
"Dallas gathers all its intelligence into one place, the Fusion Center, so analysts can study it," he continued. "They use all the simplest and more complex shapes and forms of voice, video and data to assist in their response."
Watson said working with cities and municipalities can be more challenging than other markets. "We view ourselves as vendor agnostic; we use the products that work best for our customers. You aren't going to find one manufacturer's equipment that does it all. You have to take a little of this and that to make it work. Public- private partnerships are definitely an evolution in safety that works.
The State of Fire Alarm Response
The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), Frisco, Texas, headed by Stan Martin, executive director, continues to work with the industry, law enforcement and public and private sectors on more widespread acceptance for professionally installed and monitored security and fire alarm systems. SD&I tapped Martin to get his thoughts on the state of alarm response for cities and municipalities. Here's what he had to say:
"At the end of last year we heard from the president of the International Fire Chiefs Association that these departments are getting stretched. They are looking to close down fire houses, reduce manpower. These fire chiefs have to get more creative in responding to systems. Some departments may consider curtailing response, but so far there's been a lot of resistance from traditional fire chiefs. It will be an ever-increasing issue. The national associations ESA and CSAA have formed a task force to look at tackling false fire alarms just like traditional alarm systems."
"Fire is not the same as burglary. Unlike security systems the alarm industry doesn't hold all the cards; most of the changes will come through NFPA at the hands of the fire AHJs. On the security side we feel we have the solution. We are seeing cities with 90 percent success rate with lower false alarms that have adopted model ordinances; it's a matter of getting the word out."
Editor's note: SIAC is a not-for-profit that needs everyone's help. Visit www.siacinc.org and consider a donation of any amount.
Want More on Securing Cities? Head to Dallas
Sign up for Secured Cities, an exclusive Cygnus Security Media event, slated for September 29 through 30 in Dallas. Visit www.securedcities.com for more information on the event of the year that combines public safety and law enforcement sessions with technology. The event is co-located with the Enforcement Expo at the Dallas Convention Center.
Integrated Systems: Value-Based Selling
Total cost of ownership, value-added services and life cycle costs discussions will increasingly be part of the discussion for any end-user, but especially cities and municipalities.
According to Steve Russo, director of Physical Security Technology, IBM Security Services, one of the measurements of value by law enforcement for surveillance is how many investigations the video can bring in during a period of time.
"Also, the whole idea of video and sensor analysis is growing-as you start to see the increase in our processing power and the optimizing of these algorithms it's where we can be more cost effective and add value."
In the case of the Rochester, N.Y., installation, the deployment of virtual servers reduced acquisition and operating costs by as much as 40 percent. Storage alone, according to Pivot3, can account for 50 percent of the cost of a surveillance system.
Alex Bratton, chief executive officer of Lextech Labs, Naperville, Ill., said integrators have to communicate the value of the system in terms the end-user can relate to and understand. For example, police and first responders can have inter-agency communication with mobile video, such as iRa C3 video surveillance software from Lextech.
"We as an industry have to talk about the value of the solution, the value proposition. Mobile video can be used for more than security-event management, people flow, traffic-the value proposition gets broader and broader," Bratton said.
According to Benjamin Butchko CPP, president and CEO of Butchko Security Solutions in Cypress, Texas, life cycle costs are also important to the end-user and must consider the cost to make the system work on a continuous basis. "It includes total cost of ownership-the cost to acquire, busy and support the equipment and also the cost to operate and train personnel on the system, including retraining. It also includes the plan to phase out the security equipment long term in a way in which the end-user can manage it." Butchko was a speaker at the ASIS Physical Security Council Professional Development Workshop in Chicago recently.
Networks: GPS Satellite Beefs Up
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have become a management tool that's proactive. For law enforcement and public safety offices, it's another tool they are increasingly adding to their arsenal. Its price has dropped and it is easier to deploy and install.
GPS is not only a navigational tool for vehicles and mobile phones but it's also used in commercial and industry applications. For example, it allows ATMs and financial institutions to time-stamp transactions.
According to PhysOrg.com GPS is getting an upgrade of about $8 billion, designed to increase the system's accuracy, improve its reliability and make the technology even more widespread. It's reported that the new satellites that will replace older ones will eventually triple the signals available for commercial use. GPS was originally developed by the Pentagon over 30 years ago.
Downtown Dallas Inc. and the Dallas Police Department is looking at deploying a new Motorola Turbo Radio System called MOTOTRBO in 2011. The digital radio system combines handheld radios and GPS tracking in one. The idea is to replace analog radios that are voice function only, said BearCom Chairman John Watson, which will handle the changeover. Watson said this new digital generation will mimic many of the functions currently available on smartphones, one of which will be an integrated GPS module. Web-based tracking will also be available.
MOTOTRBO is Motorola's first digital two-way licensed spectrum radio system specifically designed to meet the requirements of organizations that need a customizable, business-critical communication solution.