Baltimore Leverages PSIM Solution to Ensure Day-to-Day and Event Security

May 20, 2014
PSIM software integrates 1500 security cameras and connects nearly 50 agencies in one unified command center

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 Solution

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.

Success Stories

Here are a few examples of how Baltimore has successfully used the PSIM software to monitor and manage situations:

  • The City’s cameras caught a stabbing on video. Using the PSIM software, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) was able to track quickly the suspect’s movements, apprehending  him before further crime and injury could occur.
  • Recently the City of Baltimore held its single largest event, with more than one million attendees over 25 miles, to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. With more than one million attendees spread out over 25 miles, the event included 20 Tall Ships from countries across the globe, 10 Navy Gray Hull auxiliary ships, Blue Angels flyovers and more. Throughout the festivities, the City used the VidSys PSIM software to manage the 662 cameras and connect the nearly 50 involved agencies into one, unified command center. When a storm arose, the command center operator was able to engage a separate application through the PSIM software to pinpoint how much more there was to move attendees to safety. Working with law enforcement officials and loudspeakers the operators were able to alert the crowds to take shelter in pre-identified locations.
  • When a pleasure boat issued a distress call, intelligence from the VidSys software platform correlated information coming in from radar and helicopters to find the boat and it’s overboard passengers —ultimately saving all four lives.

The Results

Rather than a first responder acting and reporting back once on-scene, whole departments are able to obtain and share information simultaneously so that operators or incident command can make critical resource allocation and response decisions in route to the situation. The results of this proactive approach to security are seen in everything from personnel deployment during major event, disaster and emergency response scenarios to traffic rerouting and traffic light changes for incidents such as water main breaks, fi res, sinkholes and motor vehicle accidents.

By providing a single, unified view of all physical security and communication technologies, the VidSys PSIM software makes it possible for agencies and officials to track, prepare for and respond to developing situations as, or even before, they occur and quickly mitigate them to minimize impact. In addition, the ability to scale the system allows more agencies to participate, improving the overall capability, amounting to something that has much more value than the sum of its parts.

Lieutenant Samuel Hood, Director of Law Enforcement Operations, sums it up nicely saying, “Using VidSys PSIM allows us to take a proactive approach to security. We’re able to help stop situations before they occur and mitigate them quickly when they happen.”

The Future

In emergencies, time is critical and the effectiveness of the response can be the difference between safety and disaster, life or death. The VidSys PSIM software helps establish standard operating procedures and step-by-step instructions based on best practices and organizational policies and tools to resolve situations faster, smarter and more cost-effectively. By eliminating the guess work, the city can quickly – and appropriately –  identify potential threatening situations and ensure safe, effective responses, reducing costly errors. 

The city is actively working to utilize the PSIM software state-wide. Growing on the successful City of Baltimore deployment, the State of Maryland is in the process of updating its CAD 911 system to enable a massive effort that integrates platforms statewide onto a single platform. The integration will use the VidSys PSIM software to streamline information into one common operating picture for use by more than 50 different agencies (e.g. State Highway, hospitals, Stadium Authority, helicopter patrol fleet, etc.).

This will allow operators across the State to work seamlessly, knowing when, where, and how best to respond to any given situation by leveraging real-time intelligence and data sharing.

In summary, the city of Baltimore is a leader in innovation, city management and public safety response -- and is at the forefront of the connected cities vision, thanks to the adoption of innovative technologies. This encourages interagency cooperation, while leveraging existing assets, to deliver unified command and control that reduces costs, while improving response times and visibility of city services. Ultimately, this all increases the efficiency of the city while making it more safe and secure for residents, visitors and businesses.


 This case study was a submission in STE’s 2013 Security Innovation Awards program. For details on how to submit for the 2014 awards, please email editorial director Steve Lasky at [email protected].