Municipal Video Best Practices

Dec. 12, 2014
Five tips for implementing a cost-effective and flexible surveillance system

Safety and security is an important issue for cities and government officials. In our current environment, municipalities face a variety of new challenges. Implementing a video security system across a community is not an easy task as there are many challenges faced by municipal security installations including geographical disparity, restrictions, scalability and remote monitoring.

Since a municipal security system must cover large areas and work with a variety of different structures, this presents wiring and cameras installation issues. Additionally, a municipality must consider ways to bring all of the security tools under one centralized security system that offers remote monitoring capability from handheld devices, laptops or mobile phones.

Government and municipal projects often have tight budget constraints, and thus require a cost-effective surveillance system that can cover large areas while at the same time provide expansion opportunities for future security needs.

Union City, N.J., and Prospect Heights, Ill., are just two cities that have recently implemented cost-effective, flexible video surveillance systems. As a result, each city has seen a reduction in crime rates and a vastly improved public safety system, but the successful results first started with deploying the right surveillance system. Here are five tips to get a municipal surveillance system implementation started:

1. Use Remote Monitoring
Critical to the success of a municipal surveillance system is identifying a video management system (VMS) software that law enforcement officials can easily use remotely. Police departments want to be able to view live and recorded video from their desks, phones or vehicles from anywhere throughout the city.

In the case of Union City, N.J., the municipality mounted cameras over high-trafficked streets and their highest risk public areas. With exacqVision VMS software, officials can download a free mobile app or run free client software on any web browser, enabling them to assess situations as they are happening anywhere in the city and provide guidance to on-the-scene officers. As with all VMS systems, the software has enabled them to monitor risk, assess the environment they are entering and prioritize issues remotely; thus, providing enhanced situational awareness that has gives them the ability to respond quicker and more effectively to crime scenes. In addition, the installation of the system has served as a visual deterrent to reduce crime in some areas.

“We now have more eyes on the street to help with our daily operations,” says Union City Police Lt. Ramon Vasquez.

2. Consider a Wireless Solution

When covering a large area, consider implementing a wireless mesh network to monitor high-risk areas. In Prospect Heights, Ill., the surveillance system acts as a force multiplier, enabling the police department to keep more officers patrolling the streets and letting the cameras cover high-crime areas.

Video from the cameras is wirelessly sent to a nearby building and then transmitted to the police station over a secured network. The wireless system connects the police department with the community residential areas for real-time viewing of activity.

By leveraging this capability, Prospect Heights can monitor crime in neighborhoods without the need for full-time police officers to constantly patrol the area.

3. Be Resource Efficient

It is very costly to replace an entire security system. Instead, city governments and law enforcement officials can leverage their current infrastructure, wiring and analog cameras while also updating their security system. This approach maximizes the initial security investment while providing the flexibility to upgrade over time.

Union City was able to utilize its existing analog infrastructure while also adding new technology, while Prospect Heights fully integrated the surveillance system with their broadband wireless network to better leverage resources. G4S Technology and CME Engineering implemented a wireless mesh network that used their existing cameras.

4. Select an Easy-to-Use VMS

Select a VMS that makes searching and exporting video as easy as possible. Most governments and communities suffer from limited resources. In the case of Union City, the exacqVision client greatly reduced the search and investigation time. In the event of a reported crime, police officers can use the VMS for post-incident investigation and research. Officers can quickly search for the time of the incident and can then export real-time evidence and footage to be used in court if necessary. “The software has allowed us to quickly capture video clips of incidents that we’ve used to bring criminal investigations to successful conclusions,” says Union City Chief of Police Jamie Dunne.

5. Account for Future Growth

As communities grow and crime hot spots change, municipalities need to consider a long-term security strategy; thus, the design of the surveillance network should allow for future expansion. Scalable solutions provide an easy method to add cameras and expand the security system as the population demographics change.

Prospect Heights designed its wireless security solution with future additions in mind. They accounted for the ability to add cameras moving forward and adjust the system as needed.

Scott Dennison is the Director of Marketing and Product Management for the Exacq Technologies brand of Tyco Security Products. TYo request more info about Exacq, please visit

About the Author

Scott Dennison | Allegion Business Leader, Commercial Electronic Locks and Software

Scott Dennison has been the Allegion Business Leader, Commercial Electronic Locks and Software since May 2016. Prior to Allegion, he was the director of marketing & product management at Tyco Security Products.