Mounting Security Pressure Placed on Cities by Covid-19

As cities around the world are slowly reopening their daily operations, city officials are analyzing their security strategies and systems to ensure that they can meet the new demands that COVID-19 has placed on these locales. Social distancing measures, such as restrictions on the number of people that can gather in one place and the closure of certain facilities like parks, are taxing city resources and placing high demand on law enforcement officials. With so much uncertainty, the need for reliable security solutions that can help keep a city’s operations functioning at the highest levels is evident.
Not only has COVID-19 placed tremendous pressure on law enforcement’s ability to enforce and monitor restricted activity, but it has also strained the already shrinking city budgets. With Pelco’s comprehensive solutions, cities have the ability to realize cost savings, operational efficiency and compliance oversight – all of which are of the utmost importance.

Cost Savings
• Pelco’s Smart Compression reduces storage costs to preserve video quality, lowering bandwidth and storage requirements by up to 70% so users can continuously monitor activity without taking up valuable space on the network.
• VideoXpert’s open and scalable system is easy to install and deploy and offers a robust feature set that allows municipalities to leverage existing video infrastructure and save money on additional capital expenses. Additionally, as an integrated solution that provides monitoring of multiple areas from one location, operators can view multiple areas in a city.
• Industry-leading surveillance technology gives you the ability to see all angles and details of a scene with a limited number of cameras and in all lighting conditions, ensuring the video captured is usable.

Operational Efficiency
• VideoXpert’s event management software enables an operator to automate tasks and alerts which can improve an operator’s incident response time. The system’s event viewer displays all relevant information with multiple search parameters, reducing event investigation time, which means security leaders have all of the information they need in the event of an emergency.
• Pelco Camera Link enables operators to link specific cameras to track a person of interest and provide additional information to law enforcement.
• Pelco’s Edge Analytics provides real-time continuous monitoring with motion detection, directional motion, camera sabotage/maintenance, and loitering detection.

Compliance Oversight
• VideoXperts’s Advanced Analytics Suite aids in compliance of social distancing rules via algorithms powered by deep learning technology that can detect and classify objects based on built-in training. It can also track more than 200 objects, and real-time speed at 10 fps.
• SureVision low-light technology enables users to capture the best possible image in little or no light conditions, making it possible to identify people who are in restricted areas.

Cities need comprehensive solutions to meet the added challenges that COVID-19 has presented to law enforcement officials and city leaders. We can help build your tool kit and address these challenges together.

Case Study | Gorford City

About Gorford City

Central Coast Council has built a comprehensive video surveillance solution covering multiple towns across the council area with a combination of Pelco fixed and PTZ cameras supported by Pelco’s VideoXpert VMS and installed by ECS Services. A recent upgrade to the Street Safe solution has seen the latest technologies introduced to key parts of the system.

Central Coast was among the first council areas in New South Wales (NSW) to install video surveillance and began rolling out its Street Safe solution nearly 15 years ago in response to requests from the local community. The first cameras were installed in 2004, meaning Pelco and ECS have been partnering with Central Coast Council for approximately 15 years. The original system was analogue and was installed in and around Gosford, then expanded to Umina. Next came upgrades at Gosford and Umina and an expansion to Woy Woy, as other businesses fed up with property damage sought CCTV to protect their premises.

With the help of John Adams from Security Electronics & Networks, we are able to hear from Sergeant Steve Hassett and Senior Constable Don Buchanan from NSW Police as they share the challenges and solutions that the system solved with Craig Cobbin from Pelco.

More Information on Gorford City Case Study

Meet the New Surveillance Solution That Fights Vehicle-Related Offenses

Owning a business with parking lots or dedicated lanes for employees and visitors means navigating an added layer of security risks. For example, if a vehicle enters a commercial parking lot after hours, security personnel should be able to respond to the scene as soon as possible to prevent any asset damage or other forms of criminal activity from taking place.

If an incident has already occurred, such as a hit-and-run accident at an airport drop-off lane, the chance that a potential suspect is successfully apprehended diminishes if no license plate recognition systems are being used, or if the existing system is unable to accurately identify the suspicious vehicle.

Enter VideoXpert Plates, an automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) system used for detecting and capturing vehicle license plates through video feeds. This solution also easily integrates with VMS like VideoXpert or can be used on its own.

Here’s how VideoXpert Plates boosts security in a wide range of environments where vehicle or traffic monitoring is needed.

A Fast and Accurate Solution

When a suspicious vehicle is detected, every second counts. The right ALPR system should be able to automatically detect such activity so the appropriate response measure can be taken within seconds, rather than long after a security breach. VideoXpert Plates uses advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) engine technology, which detects and captures plates with greater than 97% accuracy and minimizes false positives. Speeding past won’t help a suspicious vehicle escape detection, since VideoXpert Plates can detect vehicles moving up to 150 mph (250 kph).

Control Restricted Areas

VideoXpert Plates enables access control for restricted areas such as loading docks and employee parking lots. If the area has a gate, fence, or garage door, this solution can automatically control which vehicles are authorized to enter or exit the area, which reduces the need for additional security personnel on the scene.

Global Plate Recognition

Motorways make it easy for vehicles to cross state or country borders. That’s why VideoXpert Plates simultaneously detects license plates from multiple states, provinces, and 200 countries without the need for additional engines or databases.

A Comprehensive System

VideoXpert Plates allows for enhanced surveillance through its comprehensive vehicle-monitoring capabilities. It also comes with VideoXpert Plates Manager, a centralized manager for tasks like plate searching, and a VideoXpert Plates Plugin, which results in a seamless integration with Pelco’s VideoXpert VMS. In addition to this, the system complies with US and EU government cybersecurity regulations for an experience you can trust.

Want to know what Pelco’s VideoXpert Plates can do for you?

Guest Post: Keeping Video Surveillance Connected in City Surveillance Applications

Though your city might not be “The City That Never Sleeps”, security for a City Surveillance installation is still a 24/7/365 task. Security teams, law enforcement, 911 operators, emergency services, and others work tirelessly around-the-clock to protect city inhabitants and visitors and respond quickly should an incident occur.

Video surveillance is critical to operation of a city surveillance security system. Cameras in public spaces and throughout the city’s roads and buildings help to ensure that a close eye is kept on people moving about their day, often with dynamic analytics to help detect threats or incidents such as an abandoned bag or a gathering crowd and alerting proper authorities. Cameras at traffic lights, intersections, highway merges, and other traffic hotspots register if a violation occurs and watch for accidents. They also often help to gather data about a particular area’s traffic patterns, helping the city become even safer.

Video surveillance deployed around an entire city is a large installation, consisting of thousands or even tens of thousands of cameras that must work together to detect and monitor incidents as they happen. Video is constantly being streamed to video management systems and archived to servers for storage. It’s critical, therefore, that cameras have a consistent connection to the network, as any interruption could result in a loss of video that misses a critical moment during a crime or other incident—or misses the incident entirely, leaving authorities in the dark.

As cameras are designed with higher and higher resolution, they provide more functionality—better all-around picture, capture of larger areas, and analytics capability that provides other essential functionality that a city needs to remain safe, such as facial recognition, object detection, and license plate recognition. Maintaining the connection to these cameras as they deliver a high resolution picture that is constantly being analyzed for problems and threats is a rugged task that requires an extremely strong connective technology.

Some cities have fiber cable installed throughout their streets, allowing for a fast, reliable data connection between cameras and other devices on a city’s network. However, for cities without available installed fiber, maintaining the connection is more complicated. Running necessary cable to each camera is a possibility, but it’s time-consuming, expensive, and difficult to install and maintain. It might require digging up roads and contribute to other disruptions that cause delays and bottlenecks in fast-paced cities.

Wi-Fi solutions for backhaul are another option for cities where running cable is not an option. With a Wi-Fi meshing solution, cities can implement a connectivity solution with a lower cost of deployment and a faster install time. In addition, a Wi-Fi solution can help to secure cameras and other devices and prevent them from being used during hack attempts to the network as a whole. Wi-Fi solutions on the market now are capable of providing the bandwidth necessary for the high-definition cameras currently in use in most security systems.

For public venues, traffic cameras, and other parts of a city surveillance network, especially those areas or installations where laying cable would be too expensive, too complicated, or cause downtime, Wi-Fi connections can provide the functionality necessary to keep your video surveillance system running with the functionality you expect—reducing downtime, simplifying your network, and increasing safety for the city as a whole.

Scott Heinlein is the Enterprise Segment Director of Ruckus BU, part of Brocade. His specialties include smart cities, hospitality and Mains Distributions Units. Ruckus offers a complete line of high-performance access network infrastructure, including Wi-Fi controllers and access points, wired Ethernet switching and OpenGin-building cellular and small cell, combined with network security, analytics and management software, and professional services and support.

Design Your City Surveillance System the Right Way: Phase 1

It’s often been said, you can do something fast, or you can do something right. This logic applies to any security professional who is tasked with designing a City Surveillance system. Due to budget constraints, city government bureaucracy and a host of other challenges – getting the perfect, most comprehensive security system to initiate your program may not happen in phase one. But, if you plan right in this critical initial phase, you can lay the foundation for success through an increase in operational efficiency, safer intersections and less crime as your system is scaled. How? Let’s review a few considerations as you begin your research.

What does the ideal Video Management System for city surveillance look like?

You should be looking at a VMS that can be deployed through the traditional hardware option, but also offers a software-base option. This gives you complete flexibility to leverage your existing system, which will contribute to your cities bottom line. It is vital that this system is built on an open platform that allows for customization and the option of integrating third-party software with relative ease. It should have system aggregation that pulls all video feeds into a single user interface that is intuitive to operators and takes little time to learn. Combining all this video coverage and the use of third-party integrations, like event management analytics, will increase the efficiency of how your security personnel reacts to critical situations. A more efficient process means less costly mistakes- financially and when it comes to the safety of citizens and city employees.

What cameras offer the best strategy for traffic management?

A high priority goal for any security professional monitoring traffic is the ability to see all angles and details for a given intersection. Because you don’t have an unlimited budget, you must be able to cover this entire area with the least number of cameras. Fortunately, there are several options on the market today that offer complete situational awareness and are ideal for traffic management.

Panoramic camera technology offers exceptional image quality and field of views of 180, 270 and 360 degrees. Look for multi-sensor or single-sensor panoramic cameras that integrate flawlessly with the VMS and gives you perfectly stitched video. Be leery of lower quality cameras that deliver overlapping or fragmented video that can alter your field of view. Your security monitors cannot afford any distractions during an emergency situation.

In most scenarios, the use of a few additional PTZ or fixed IP cameras in conjunction with panoramic cameras will offer 100% coverage of your intersection. If your region experiences harsh weather conditions, you should choose cameras with an IP 66 rating. This rating will ensure your cameras withstand the best that mother nature has to offer. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure your cameras give you a clear visibility, even if it’s foggy and dark. Not all IP cameras deliver low light performance and image de-fog capability- even if they are marketed that way. Ask for an in-person demonstration and judge for yourself.

How can I use my City Surveillance system to reduce crime?

The mere sight of surveillance cameras may deter criminal activity in certain areas of your city. Common sense suggests that would-be criminals will just choose another location to go about their unlawful ways and put another area of town in jeopardy.

One way to gain the upper-hand is to deploy specially modified surveillance cameras that blend into the natural surroundings of this area. Going one step further, you may elect to use motion or loitering video analytics in the camera or VMS that trigger an alarm to security personal monitoring your city. Now, you can begin your investigation in real-time, alert local law enforcement and take a more proactive step in reducing crime.

The more criminals you put behind bars, the less there are on the streets of your city.

Moving Ahead

These are just a few considerations as you begin researching options for phase one of your City Surveillance System. To reiterate – by choosing the right VMS solution, accompanied by a sound traffic management camera strategy and crime reduction plan – your city will benefit from better efficiency and safer streets.

Still interested in learning more? Have a question related to City Surveillance? Click here.

How Cities Use Surveillance Systems

In practice, cities usually implement and use video surveillance systems in one of two ways: in Police Real Time Crime Centers (RTCCs) or in EMS Dispatch Centers. There are many reasons that a particular city system might develop a particular way, but two important factors are the strategic objectives of the city and the structure and size of the departmental budgets. Other factors, such as the size of the city at the time surveillance systems are implemented, can also play a role. For example, management in a medium-sized city with a relatively low crime rate might prioritize comprehensive responses to emergencies, and therefore decide to implement video surveillance as a key support function for EMS dispatchers.

Here are some typical characteristics and considerations about how cities implement surveillance video systems in the two primary scenarios:

Emergency Dispatch Centers

As mentioned above, video surveillance can be implemented as a primary support tool for emergency or EMS dispatch operators. These are the folks that answer the phone when someone calls the local emergency number (911 in the USA, but other numbers, such as 999, 997, 110, and 060 in other locations). Usually, they are equipped with either a multiscreen display or workstation (or both) along with their EMS Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, which is used to field calls from the public as well as to communicate with first responders. CAD operators receive incoming calls and use automated Geographic Information System (GIS) maps to determine the location of the caller. Without a video surveillance system, the operators must depend on information from the caller to understand the nature of the emergency and dispatch the appropriate responders.

By implementing a video surveillance system, the EMS dispatch center provides operators with the ability to see the scene of a reported emergency, which can provide a far better understanding of not only the nature of the emergency, but also the conditions in the surrounding area. Based on their overview of the situation, they may take additional actions over and above what might have been indicated by the initial call.

Here’s how the situation might unfold if a video surveillance system has been implemented: Incoming calls are fielded as before with the CAD and GIS systems. Operators can then turn to their Video Management System (VMS) to see additional video information of the scene by dragging and dropping cameras in the area associated with the emergency call to the VMS work screens. Depending on the visual understanding of the nature of the emergency or the surrounding situation, dispatchers can use judgment in the evaluation, and may decide to send additional resources such as Police, Fire, or EMS to assist in the response.

Because the operators have an overview of the situation, they can communicate directly with the responding officers to alert them to any changing situations while they are on route, and guide them while on scene with additional useful information, such as suspicious activity happening nearby. And, if the situation changes, operators are able to quickly call for additional response instead of waiting for officers to arrive on scene to make that determination. This “eye in the sky” support function can be a very important factor in the support of on-scene responders, and can improve the overall outcome of many emergency situations.

The video system can also improve and supplement “after action” reporting as needed for forensic case report development. Operators or other support staff can assist officers in gathering and outputting the necessary video files.

Real Time Crime Centers

Video surveillance systems can also be implemented in conjunction with Real Time Crime Centers (RTCCs), often referred to as Fusion centers. Larger cities, with larger police forces and budgets, often place higher priorities on providing map-based situational awareness based on integrating information from other data and analytic systems such as video analytics, license plate recognition, gunshot detection, and others.

Part of the reason that RTCCs are mostly used by large cities is that in these busy settings, dispatch operators have higher emergency call volume and so they are unable to continue to monitor a crime or emergency in progress. RTCCs typically employ officers and supervisors, who will use the video management system to monitor activities throughout the city. If an officer detects an emergency or a crime in progress, they will contact dispatch to process the emergency response. RTCCs rely a high level of integration between systems to create the situational awareness that officers need in emergency situations, and often require larger budgets because of the need for extensive custom software and maintenance.

Here’s how the situation might unfold at a Real Time Crime Center: Unlike the Emergency Dispatch Centers, RTCCs are staffed by police officers and supervisors. They also use a combination of a multiscreen video wall and individual operator workstations, as well as a Geographic Information System (GIS) map although they do not normally receive emergency calls from the public; instead, they communicate with EMS CAD operators. But, they may also monitor city areas independent of an emergency call, and may themselves trigger an EMS dispatcher to respond to an emergency based on their observations of the video scene.

In addition, the integration of the data sources provides improved Situational Awareness capabilities. So, officers monitoring the city will have the benefit of installed video analytics such as loitering detection, crowd detection, camera tampering detection, and people counting to strengthen their ability to detect unusual activity. As was mentioned, other integrated systems can also provide useful inputs to detect potential emergencies or to locate people of interest. These include not only the license plate and gunshot detectors mentioned above, but also systems such as automated vehicle location, traffic movement/congestion, links to crime statistic databases, and “big data” analytic applications including crime prediction, traffic pattern changes, weather prediction, and even geolocated social media analytics. The integration of all these complex systems gives officers an enormous advantage over relying upon visual monitoring or experience alone.

Once an emergency has been detected, and the responses triggered through the EMS dispatchers, RTCC officers will continue to monitor the situation and perform the “eye in the sky” functions described above. In this case, their understanding of the situation is further guided by their experience and understanding of tactics as police officers. Often, this supplemental observation will continue for the duration of officer responses to ensure the safety and security of the situation. To support the scene, officer operators can perform other useful functions such as referring to crime report data and other records to provide the on-scene officers with additional useful information and insight. After the situation is resolved, the video will support “after-action” reports as described above.

Conclusion

As you can see there are many similarities between Emergency Dispatch centers and Real Time Crime Centers that use video surveillance. Depending on the specific priorities, budgets, and departmental structure of each Safe City, either one of these approaches is completely valid and can be tailored to match the situation. No matter which approach is selected, Safe Cities that implement video surveillance will be in a better position to improve response times, to dispatch the right emergency equipment for each event to mitigate crime, accidents, and other emergency situations, and to provide improved overview protection for responding emergency personnel.