With a population of more than 600,000, the City of Baltimore is the largest independent city in the nation and also the largest city in the state of Maryland. The cultural center and economic hub of the state, it is also famous for its beautiful harbor; distinct neighborhoods; unique museums and the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital to the east and the University of Maryland Medical Center to the west. Home of the World Champion Baltimore Ravens and the Preakness 2nd Jewel of the Triple Crown and home to the Under Armour clothing apparel and the Grand Prix and the National Aquarium, the City also has a foot firmly planted in U.S. history for the infamous battle of 1812 during the bombardment of McHenry where Francis Scott Key penned the Star Spangled Banner.
Challenges and Objectives
The City of Baltimore needed the ability to integrate existing dissimilar security technologies across multiple agencies into a common operating picture for improved across-the-board collaboration and information sharing. Their aging infrastructure brought many challenges including the widespread “my kingdom” mentality of siloing the information from its various departments and agencies which prevented effective coordination.
The City required a sophisticated solution that integrated their current and future security device investments and provided the technology to intelligently share information controlled by separate agencies. City agencies and law enforcement wanted the ability to rapidly respond to everything from natural disasters, crime, event crowd control, traffic incidents, and more by having complete situational awareness and standard operating procedures for managing and resolving situations across agencies and organizations.
As city agencies, law enforcement and others created their road map for this unified solution, there were some of the key objectives:
- Enhance public safety;
- Reduce response times with real-time situational awareness;
- Boost collaboration and coordination among agencies;
- Integrate existing security devices and provide ability to integrate future technologies;
- Facilitate quick communication with field personnel via mobile devices;
- Increase preparedness for natural disasters and special events.
The VidSys PSIM software was selected to enable city-wide situational awareness and inter-agency information sharing to improve public safety and enhance emergency response. The ability to integrate disparate systems, its rules-driven situation identification and resolution ability, as well as its pure web-based architecture drove the selection of the VidSys software. The solution was tested first during the hosting of the 2011 Baltimore Grand Prix and with its success was expanded to a citywide deployment.
The PSIM software integrates 1500 security cameras and connects nearly 50 agencies in one unified command center. Several other applications are tightly integrated into the VidSys solution including intricate mapping technology, weather alerts, data cast broadcasting, social media monitoring and more.
Through this integration of multiple disparate technologies, the PSIM software provides the City of Baltimore with real-time information that enables more efficient, effective and safe resolution to situations. For instance, it can provide responders with a view into relevant assets such as maps, floor plans, and video prior to arriving on scene as well as provide updates as the situation evolves. Arming first responders with real-time information as they approach a situation enables them to have a clearer understanding of what they are about to face – helping them protect themselves and more effectively respond.
Baltimore’s emergency personnel and first responders are equipped with GPS-enabled blackberries. The VidSys PSIM software integrates the GPS data, with corresponding audio and the City’s video feeds, making it possible for incident commanders in the control center to track and determine the best resources to dispatch. The commanders are able to share detailed, real-time information with the emergency responders (e.g. suspect photos and descriptions, critical disaster response details, etc.) in real-time via the mobile devices.