VMS in Action: Monitoring the Second Presidential Debate

A networked surveillance system had all of Hofstra University covered as the world watched Obama and Romney trade barbs

“There were so many things going on — the helicopter in the sky recording a super-high-definition, broadcast-quality video, being pushed down through a very expensive camera, then recording it in Milestone, which presented a finished product seen in six, seven or eight viewing stations,” Taylor explains. “We were able to serve it to anyone who was involved. When I look at what we went through from a technical point of view and to have the ability to get everything up and running without a hitch...it was impressive.”

Mobile carts were constructed and rolled into the event a day in advance. The police used Milestone’s XProtect Mobile Client with Video Push for officers to use from their smartphones. Plain-clothed officers monitored the crowd from within using access to the surveillance footage.

The officers in the field were able to create additional camera views by using the Milestone Screen Recorder and web service. The police fed high definition video back through smartphones with the Milestone Screen Recorder, enabling the command center to retrieve it from a PC and run it through the VMS on the fly for live viewing during the debate.


Patrolling the Debate

With infrared, high-definition and thermal cameras deployed, the team manned their individual posts for the arrival of President Obama and Governor Romney. Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas V. Dale was stationed in one of the mobile command centers on a three-screen setup — one screen to watch the debate live, and the others with access to the other 46 cameras.

The incident commander for the event was stationed in front of a touch screen monitor, able to access and control the camera feeds in an instant.

A few minor incidents were captured during the event — they did not pose a direct physical threat to the President and governor, but did result in arrests. One protest group was streaming live feed to its website from campus. The group was linked to a watch list for the debate and the police monitored the live feed in the command center. Another situation included the Green Party Candidate, who was removed for protesting at the debate and heading a group that blocked streets and sidewalks. The command center was able to monitor that protest and make the appropriate call when it became a disturbance.

“Many of the police officers monitoring the debate and surrounding areas were not IT guys by trade, so it was important that we had the user-friendly interface to ensure there were no user error issues

When the event concluded, the cameras were taken down, but the Nassau County Police plan to redistribute them to problem areas throughout the county.