STE Feb. Online Bonus: Eye on Paradise

Jan. 22, 2013
County of Maui builds a centralized municipal security system

There are eight main islands that make up Hawaii, and four of them are a part of the County of Maui: Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. Together, the islands encompass approximately 2,400 square miles and house a population of 154,000 residents. Recently, the county implemented an initiative to migrate to a centralized system for all security, including access control, biometrics and surveillance on its three populated islands, excluding Kahoolawe, which does not have any residents or county buildings.

With 2,500 employees and myriad buildings on the islands, including business offices, police stations, fire stations, prosecuting attorney offices, water department facilities, golf courses and maintenance yards, integrating a countywide security system was no small task. The surveillance system alone requires more than 125 networked cameras to maintain and manage.

Initially, the system was installed to protect critical infrastructure, including five county Administration buildings, the Maui Police Department and the Maui Water Department. After the county realized the value of a centralized system, it began looking at ways to expand its security reach and protect other areas. “Our goal was to integrate all of our departments onto a single platform that allows us to control all of the security subsystems,” explains Dennis Schwind, security coordinator and executive assistant to the managing director for the County of Maui.

One of the challenges the County of Maui needed to tackle was expanding its surveillance system to include cameras that could protect facilities, parking areas, and hundreds of vehicles after hours. “We have millions of dollars worth of vehicles parked outside and, in the past, we’ve had vehicles, tires and gasoline stolen,” Schwind says.

After a Tsunami hit Hawaii in 2011, the county decided that it needed to expand its surveillance even further to reach beaches and main highways for emergency monitoring purposes. The county had been using analog fixed cameras and domes, but was unhappy with the picture quality and performance. County officials also were looking for day/night cameras that could be managed from a network. Due to the expanse of the system, PoE cameras would cut down on cabling costs and make for a more efficient installation. Initially, megapixel cameras were installed at two locations to test their abilities, but county officials did not like the pictures they were getting in low-light conditions, according to Schwind.

A Bright Solution
Together, the County of Maui and its integrator company, Security Resources, enlisted the help of Don Coker, president of Seevid Inc., a manufacturers’ rep company that helped the organization try out different products to determine which cameras and systems would best fit the county’s needs. “They really helped us work out the deal with the manufacturers to put together trial systems” says Patrick O’Brien, chief executive officer at Security Resources. “It is important to be able to try out these products.”

Ultimately, the County of Maui decided on American Dynamics Illustra 610 day/night cameras from Tyco Security Products because of low-light performance and cost considerations. “The decision was motivated by the ability to record and reproduce video with substantially better resolution than we had previously,” Schwind explains. “In addition, the higher resolution allows for better coverage from a single camera position, enabling us to protect more areas with fewer cameras.”

Prior to installing the day/night cameras, security personnel were not able to see suspicious activity after dark. “We had one incident where a golf cart was being stolen in the dark, and our old cameras showed only the headlights — we couldn’t tell who was on the cart or whether it was a man or a woman,” Schwind says.

The new cameras’ anti-reflection technology, along with low-light capabilities, keep security officials from seeing blurred out pictures because of headlights or street lamps. “They provide a crystal clear image that can help us identify a person in a situation like this,” Schwind adds.

The high-definition megapixel cameras also feature built-in face detection capabilities, which, according to Schwind, the county plans to leverage in the future. Security Resources had the task of integrating the surveillance, access control and other systems onto one networked platform. The total scope of the project cost approximately $1.5 million. Homeland Security grant money was used for the first phase of the project, which included the day/night camera installations, as well as for part of subsequent phases of the project.

In addition to being able to control security from a centralized location, the county also wanted to be able to provide the Mayor’s office with a video snapshot of what was happening across the county. “One of the key factors of the whole system is having everything communicate,” O’Brien says. “That started with looking at the original system and looking at new technology to tie everything together.”

The cameras’ PoE capabilities enabled the county to decrease cabling costs, and O’Brien touted their ability to be tweaked and upgraded right from the network. Auto-zoom and focus features also enable security personnel to adjust a camera’s field of view right from the computer, without having to go up and down a ladder.

No Longer in the Dark
In the first phase of the project, 12 Illustra 610 cameras were installed as part of the initial system outside of municipal offices, police stations, fire departments, water department facilities and golf courses. The county is now in the process of upgrading to high-definition megapixel cameras at other county facilities and in new construction projects.

Since the installation, the County of Maui has been able to put its cameras to the test. One of the county’s parking facilities was experiencing a number of vandalism incidents to its vehicles. The high-resolution video enabled security to identify the suspect. “There is no sense in having a camera if you can’t view the image and determine who is in the video,” Schwind says. “This would not have been possible with the previous cameras.”

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Staff Reports

Editorial and news reports authored by the media team from Cygnus Security Media, including, Security Technology Executive magazine and Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I) magazine.