"The technology has evolved to a point where we can now implement these kinds of programs," said Ellen Dollacker, Certified Protection Professional. "In the past, stringing cable and power to each camera was very cumbersome. Now we can transmit the video and the protocol to the camera wirelessly, which makes this technology the future in surveillance and homeland security, and is really what is driving the trend in municipal security."
According to city officials, the network cameras were a key factor in ensuring that the City could capture and transmit identification-quality images to help fight crime. Wireless technologies allow officers to monitor the cameras from police vehicles and off-site locations.
"The advanced multi purpose technology of these cameras brings New Orleans both defense in depth for high priority hard and soft homeland security targets along with a huge increase in crime reduction capability," said Colonel Terry Ebbert Director of Homeland Security for the City of New Orleans. "Our ability to protect citizens and structures just received an unbelievable boost."
Collaboration Key to Successful Implementation
The New Orleans security camera initiative brought together a range of technologies and companies to make the project work.
"The most important aspect of this project was the integration of several different technologies," said Greg Meffert, chief technology officer for the City of New Orleans. "We brought together the wireless technology, the IP camera technology and the digital video recorders to create a unique, citywide security system."
Southern Electronics, the project's general contractor, put together a team of technology partners to deploy the system.
"There were basically three technologies that we had to integrate in this project. The first was finding a camera that had the ability to communicate from an IP standpoint on an Ethernet network. The second was getting the cameras mounted on a light pole powered by the public power grid. And the third was finding a network and the capability of bringing those camera images back to the district stations," said Iggie Perrin, president of Southern Electronics and project coordinator.
In addition to the Sony IP cameras, Southern Electronics and the City of New Orleans selected Active Solutions to design the networks and housing that would make it possible for the cameras to be installed on power poles and connected directly to the power grid, and Bellwhether Technologies, Verge Wireless and Robinson Industries to provide the communications components of the project.
Community Involvement Helps Support the Project
Another unique aspect of the New Orleans citywide security project is its adopt-a-camera program. The city has set up a Web site (www.iseecrime.com) which allows citizen groups, neighborhood organizations, businesses, churches and other community organizations to adopt a camera. The program allows organizations to pay for a camera and place that camera in a location of their choice. This initiative establishes a partnership with community groups to help fund the program and broaden the city's security canopy by increasing the number of cameras rolled out under this program.
New Orleans has one of the largest and most technologically advanced surveillance programs and is on the leading edge of a growing national trend for using technology to help fight crime. Other municipalities, ranging from Chicago to smaller towns like Arlington, Texas, have also implemented or are implementing similar surveillance camera programs for crime fighting and homeland security support.
"The federal government and the Department of Homeland Security make grants to cities for security projects, and we are definitely seeing a trend toward using these grants to fund projects in the area of IP monitoring and security," said Whitebloom.