Security Innovation Awards Bronze Medal: Leading technology providers unite to secure Lady Liberty

Dec. 16, 2013
Partnership and collaboration yields ‘monumental’ security upgrade

Standing more than 300 feet tall from ground to torch, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes America and its values of democracy, freedom and promise. It has welcomed immigrants in search of the American dream, soldiers returning home from war and visitors to these shores for more than 100 years. Roughly four million people visit the monument and Ellis Island each year to step back through time and experience more than a century of American history.

The task of protecting a majestic, international symbol falls to a number of agencies, including the U.S. Park Police, National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of the Interior. The Statue’s interior closed to the public for renovations in 2011 and again in 2012 as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. As part of the refurbishment, Total Recall, a New-York based technology provider specializing in turnkey integrated video solutions, provided a state-of-the-art surveillance system with nine other security technology vendor partners. The new solution went online shortly before the Statue symbolically reopened on the Fourth of July in 2013 – eight months after Sandy.

Historic monument enters the security digital age

Total Recall designed, specified and supervised the last major security system overhaul for the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island in 1999, with the latest upgrade made in 2004. The 2013 surveillance deployment marks the first time an all-digital surveillance system has been installed at the monument. Previously, Liberty Island was covered by an analog CCTV system. Phase 1 of the project, now completed, covers the entire perimeter of Liberty Island, as well as the park’s security screening facilities and all 377 steps leading up to Lady Liberty’s crown.

The complete system redesign involved migrating from analog CCTV to IP-based digital video technology with the deployment of more than 150 network cameras. A robust broadband network was deployed, consisting of Proxim Wireless high-capacity, wide area wireless radios, supported by DragonWave multi-gigabit packet microwave units. This is the backbone on which the digital cameras communicate back to the central command center. 

The majority of the network cameras come from Axis Communications, with both PTZ and fixed IP cameras providing high-definition video at 720p resolution or higher. These cameras were selected for their image quality and reliability. Specifically, the AXIS Q6035-E PTZ dome camera, which integrated with Total Recall’s CrimeEye solution, was chosen for its high performance in demanding applications and powerful zoom capabilities. AXIS P3364-V/-VE network cameras feature the unique Lightfinder technology, which maintains colors even in extremely poor, harsh or limited lighting conditions.

There are also several very low light, B/W Scallop imaging cameras with a 200-degree panoramic view monitoring the island’s perimeter. Like a team on the front lines, the Scallop cameras work in tandem with a low light, megapixel, controllable Axis PTZ camera to zoom in on details when necessary. Although the system only went live shortly before Independence Day, the NPS has already seen a marked difference in image quality.

With the new cameras and a mix of fiber and wireless connections, the NPS and U.S. Park Police can cover areas with video surveillance that could not be reached before, such as the critical security screening facilities.

System integration streamlines security operations

In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, it was decided to move the central command center to a remote location well above flood elevation. The new intelligent and ultra-modern command center was built to support the new technology and was designed with the flexibility to scale up and double in size to accommodate outside agencies in cases of a multi-agency operation. The streamlined command center features ergonomically designed consoles by Winsted Corporation that allow operators to be as efficient and comfortable as possible in a high-stress environment. To further improve the viewing experience, a massive video wall powered by RGB Spectrum’s MediaWall 2900 display processor was installed to accommodate multi-camera viewing.

One of the key benefits of the new IP-based system has been the seamless integration of the many technologies. While there are a lot of capabilities, everything runs off Milestone’s single integrated platform XProtect Corporate video management software (VMS). Chosen for its flexibility and scalability, Milestone XProtect can grow consistently with the needs of the Park Service and its partners.

With the old system, users had to log on to different software platforms for different cameras, making the task cumbersome and time consuming. The XProtect VMS allows personnel with the required security credentials to not only access the system, but also view synchronized playback of multiple cameras. The new network cameras were strategically deployed to provide various perspectives of the same scene, and the RGB Spectrum media processor with XProtect Smart Wall add-on provides the ability to present different layouts on the screen, from a single large camera display to a mosaic of 30-plus cameras.

The Milestone software has been particularly helpful for routine reviews. Operators are able to check the health of the system at the start of each shift, and to easily pull up all interior cameras with one click to check for any lingering visitors at closing time.  

Ready to respond – with intelligent video and instant synopsis

In the event of an unfortunate incident, the new IP system is configured to make video easier to search and share. BriefCam’s unique video synopsis software solution, which searches for changes in the video, enables law enforcement and security personnel to review hours of surveillance video in minutes. The Milestone Mobile client enables handheld mobile devices to push information or video out to decision makers or first responders in other locations. It also provides the ability to react faster to an incident by pushing information or video back to dispatch at the central command center.

Top command officials in Washington, D.C. will soon be able to view what’s happening live and help with any critical decisions during an incident. This two-way communication will be used for informational purposes, such as during a demonstration or protest for real-time monitoring.

All data is stored continuously, configured in Milestone XProtect and archived for 30 days on Pivot3 vSTAC Watch converged storage and compute hardware appliances. Pivot3 delivers a storage-centric approach where server applications share storage hardware resources to reduce overall power and cooling. 

Pivot3 has deployed 10 of its 36 TB vSTAC watch appliances — built on Dell hardware — which host the Milestone VMS and play a pivotal role in capturing video from more than160 Megapixel cameras. Pivot3’s patented application failover and enhanced RAID protection ensure video data is protected and available when needed. In addition to on-site recording at a remote off-site location, the Park Service enabled redundant recording on Liberty Island. In cases of a particular security event, video can be stored separately for an extended period of time. Storage capability is very flexible and can be easily expanded as security parameters change.

Attention: Security system in use

The new system is used for the day-to-day safety and security of the Park’s visitors while also helping monitor traffic flow, expand people management capabilities, assist ferry service operation, reconnect parents with misplaced children, verify theft, loss or accident claims and effectively respond to medical emergencies. The ultimate goal: to keep the visitor experience enjoyable while at the same time being able to respond optimally to incidents or emergencies.

Screening begins at Battery Park, before visitors board the ferry to Liberty Island, with an airport security-style setup comprising 17 lanes of entry. Axis’ IP surveillance cameras provide an additional layer of security and also record visitors’ items when they are entering and exiting the machines. This footage can be used, if necessary, for claims verification.

Additional cameras are visible as well as at the Ellis Island security checkpoint and on Liberty Island in publicly accessible areas, including outside and inside the pedestal. Future plans include deploying video analytics with specific cameras to detect license plates of employee, contractor and service vehicles.

Lady Liberty Security Solution Providers

  • Total Recall Corporation as integrator and video-centric security technology provider specializing in surveillance solutions, specifically with their CrimeEye city-wide CCTV system.

The technology partners selected by Total Recall for the Statue of Liberty’s new surveillance system:

  • Axis Communications to provide a mix of nearly 160 IP cameras with HDTV quality, exceptional nighttime performance, powerful zoom, reliability and discreet appearance;
  • BriefCam for its unique Video Synopsis software solution that enables law enforcement and security personnel to review hours of surveillance video in minutes;
  • DragonWave to supply multi-gigabit packet microwave radios, delivering carrier-class transport for mission critical public safety communications;
  • Milestone Systems for its open platform IP video management software that enables operators to view live or recorded incidents while pushing video to mobile devices;
  • Pivot3 for reliable converged storage and compute hardware appliances specifically designed for the IP video industry;
  • Proxim Wireless to deliver high capacity, wide area wireless broadband utilizing WORP® technology in order to connect IP cameras in areas the previous system could not reach;
  • RGB Spectrum for enabling multiple video feeds to be displayed on the massive video wall in the new command center using its MediaWall 2900 Display Processor;
  • Scallop Imaging for perimeter security via its all solid-state M6-200 IP cameras with six megapixel, extreme low-light video and undistorted panoramic 200° FOV;
  • Winsted Corporation for ergonomically designed command center consoles that allow operators to be as efficient and comfortable as possible in a high-stress environment.

About the Author:

Captain Gregory Norman is the Commander of Liberty District, National Park Service. He has been with the United States Park Police since 1987 when he attended the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Police Academy. After serving in various high-level law enforcement capacities at NPS, he was promoted to Captain in January 2010 and designated as the District Commander for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument.  In 2011 Captain Norman was selected to attend the FBI National Academy and graduated in March 2011. In his current position, Captain Norman is responsible for Law Enforcement and Security at the Nation’s premier icon.