Secured Cities conference shares municipal video and urban security education

From crime camera projects to aviation security, DHS funding, legal privacy concerns, conference provides education on urban security technology deployments

O'Donnell recounted that one of the problems in merging or federating surveillance was all the different video management systems and cameras being deployed. "Getting those to integrate has been an ongoing effort," he said. He also spoke of new efforts to expand the city's network of 17,000 cameras, including the recent installation of some 20 thermal cameras along the lakefront as well as 1,000 high-definition or HD cameras. "The HD cameras take up huge amounts of bandwidth, so we needed to be cognizant of how many cameras the network would handle and also, how many HD cameras the wireless network could handle. We know that they will provide better forensic capabilities with the high-def and higher megapixels," O'Donnell said.

Other tips from O'Donnell with regards to deploying municipal video strategies:

  • Provide training to maximize video's effectiveness.
  • Know how much storage you need and how much you have to use when determining municipal policies.
  • Establish various levels of access for users of the video by policy.
  • Centralize the video leadership—"we duplicated a lot of efforts initially by everyone trying to have their own separate system," he said.
  • Document day-to-day operations and maintain detailed locations and IP addresses of cameras, as well as record problems with cameras and document maintenance so cameras are up and ready when needed.
  • For vendors, don't oversell what the technology does or its capabilities.

Funding initiatives for municipal video projects have changed, and state and federal grants have been lessened to the point where cities and municipalities have to look for other areas to gain monies. Mark Jules, executive director of the National Public Safety Foundation gave insights into new areas of funding, as well as the important role collaborative partnerships play in garnering funds. (See related article: "Finding Urban Security And Municipal Video Funding.")

Video analytics, video management and physical security information management (PSIM) systems were also hot topics of discussion in several Secured Cities sessions, including "Pixels, Camera Placements and Wireless Backhauls," by Jasper Bruinzeel, vice president of Marketing & Sales for CelPlan Technologies, Reston, Va.

Bruinzeel said CelPlan and Wi4Net, a division of the company, have worked with numerous cities and municipalities across the country in maximizing wireless backhaul technologies and frequencies used for wireless transmission in public safety areas. "The evolution of wireless camera surveillance is to more comprehensive security and integrated solutions in a single integrated management platform," Bruinzeel said. "In the next 10 years we'll see a lot of development in video analytics for surveillance networks. Today, everything is wound around the budget, what things cost, what costs the most; and how to optimize what you are getting for your budget," he said.

He added that for wireless mesh and surveillance deployments, traffic structures are ideal—they have power and light—and allows the contractor to avoid digging and trenching. "Also keep in mind that wireless signals don't propagate well through trees. And yes, you can use solar-operated cameras but once you use PTZ and other parameters you are going to need a big panel and a big battery—and that might not be possible in some city locations."

Bandwidth discussions and concerns

PSIM is also becoming a critical part of an integrated camera and security device solution, such as access control, and Jannecke Stashower, senior technical manager for Intergraph Security's Government & Infrastructure said bandwidth is a concern with PSIM and other integrated solutions. "It's all about bandwidth—video related work flows incorporated into PSIM will require additional bandwidth," she commented.

Stashower also said in order to determine whether you need a VMS or a PSIM you have to look at what you want to integrate, such as badging, smoke detectors or access control systems. "Maybe it's a VMS you might need that might be appropriate, or a PSIM." She added that next generation 911 operators will be able to take video from a smartphone and download it for observation or forensics.

Return on investment for video surveillance

Lunchtime keynote speaker Nancy La Vigne, Justice Policy Center Director for the Urban Institute, presented research findings into the effectiveness of video surveillance, reviewing findings and methodology from her 2011 reports: "Evaluating the Use of Public Surveillance Cameras," and "Evaluation of Camera Use to Prevent Crime in Commuter Parking Facilities," revealing that cameras are effective and well accepted in the majority of communities surveyed.

Quick takeaways from La Vigne's talk include: