The Value of Municipal Security Solutions

From design challenges to what to do with all that video, a primer on municipal surveillance

As security systems integrators explore emerging markets that offer significant potential for growth, few areas offer as much promise as the burgeoning municipal security space. The use of CCTV as a law enforcement tool has dramatically increased in past 10 years in Europe and Latin America. Currently, the UK has more video surveillance systems per capita than any other country in the world and more than 89 cities in Latin America use citywide surveillance.

Traditionally, municipalities in the United States have been more reluctant to deploy video surveillance solutions for public safety monitoring. However, recent spikes in drug trafficking and violent crime in certain cities have prompted police departments, community associations and local business districts to explore the deployment of surveillance technologies to reduce crime, increase property values and bring customers back into their businesses. In fact 36 cities in the US have installed public safety networks, with most being used for CCTV, and more than 149 cities across the US have plans to install public safety networks in the next five years.

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There are many factors driving the proliferation of video surveillance technologies for municipal security applications in the United States. Some are obvious, including crime prevention and emergency preparedness, while others are not so easy to see, including the rapid build-out of municipal wireless IP networks that serve as a backbone for video surveillance applications.

Challenges with Municipal Security Solutions

As integrators begin to explore the municipal security space, there are three key challenges they need to be aware of. The first is the difficulty presented by the geographically dispersed, widespread nature of municipal security environments. Municipal security solutions must cover multiple square blocks, sometimes even square miles, and must be able to work around obstacles including buildings, bridges and a variety of structures. They must also be unobtrusive in order to avoid widespread resistance from the community. Cameras must be placed in remote, hard to reach locations such as atop traffic signals, light posts or building rooftops. The distributed nature of these systems often makes wiring and installation a significant challenge.

Another challenge is the integration of a municipal security solution with a variety of standalone security, business and information systems that are often already in-place in major cities. In order to be an effective threat prevention and emergency response tool, a municipal video security solution must bring all of these disparate systems together to provide a unified view of security information, delivered to the appropriate people in order for a timely and effective response. Disparate camera views, limited video distribution and isolated alarms do not present an accurate and comprehensive view of events as they happen; providing little value to first responders and law enforcement agencies.

Finally, a municipal security solution must meet the challenge of providing flexible 24x7 access to information for a variety of purposes. Video data is often shared among law enforcement, government, and private organizations that are responsible for securing the infrastructure and facilities across the city. Video data must therefore be easily and securely distributed to multiple locations simultaneously. In the event that a security incident does occur, investigative agencies must have immediate access live and stored video data to determine what is happening, how to appropriately respond to emergency situations and to help prevent future incidents.

Designing a Municipal Security Solution

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