STE Exclusive Roundtable: Keeping Cities Secure with Municipal Surveillance

Tips and insights from five experts in the field

Deploying a city-wide municipal surveillance system is an obviously daunting task. From technology concerns, to public outcry, to finding funding — these can be the most challenging physical security deployments, and maintaining them once they are in operation isn’t easy either.

STE recently sat down with five experts in the field of municipal surveillance so they can offer their tips, tricks and insights into what it takes to deploy and maintain such a complicated and expansive system. They represent five different municipal security deployments in the downtown areas of Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and Freeport, Texas.

Nearly all of these experts were major presenters at the Secured Cities Conference that was held in mid-May in Atlanta. Please visit to learn more.

STE: From your experience, what are the deployment/installation challenges for municipal surveillance systems?

Martin Cramer: Camera deployment and proper placement for optimum results was a challenge. In Dallas, we believe "Less is Better" regarding Camera deployment — putting a camera on every corner will not prevent crime or a terrorist attack. But strategic deployment based on crime trend analysis in conjunction with live monitoring and advanced analytics does pay off in a big way. The Public Safety Committee established criteria for determining where cameras would be deployed and how it would be funded. Camera placement was limited to City-owned property with existing power. The majority of cameras are installed on Stop Light and Street Light poles in high-crime locations with the best 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Parking lots, parks, bus stops, sidewalks and public areas are the focus of the camera system.

David Wardell: We are very fortunate in Atlanta in that the business community normally cooperates and supports City initiatives, and understands the need for partnerships. Challenges included integrating approval and implementation processes and procurement rules — in particular, in selecting vendors for services; sole-source selection justification; approval and execution of project funding; due diligence and indemnification for the municipality; and speed of action or phases.

Patrick O’Donnell: Some of our challenges in Chicago regarding deployment/ installation included:

• Finding a suitable light pole that will handle the weight of the camera equipment, while also providing an unobstructed view of the area.
• Connection/transmission issues — Some of the areas have few options for bringing the camera feed back to our network, either by direct fiber connection, wireless (wireless aggregation points may be too far away, obstructed by trees, buildings, oversaturated, etc.), or poor cellular coverage for EVDO feeds.
• Getting power to some of the locations can be quite difficult.

J.J. Murphy: Getting proper connectivity on the wireless system was a challenge. We had the system perfect for logging into the Internet, but it wasn’t powerful enough to transmit the video at the speed we wanted. So, we had to increase the amount of wireless hot points that were located throughout the city of Wilkes-Barre, and once we did that, the problem was solved.

Ty Morrow: The major challenge is to identify the existing gaps in security within a municipality. Once these gaps are identified, the entity will need to develop a strategy to fill them. At a minimum they will need to look at the following:

1. Which security company can provide the best solution for the cost?
2. Which security company has a proven track history and viability?
3. How do you identify the funding cost?
4. Establishing a budget to pay the cost.
5. Developing partners in the community to help fund the cost.
6. Developing a buy-in from your constituent base.
7. Development of an implementation strategy (you can’t get it all at once).
8. You have to sell the project, to overcome the NIMB (Not in my backyard groups).

This content continues onto the next page...