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By David King, City Surveillance, Critical Infrastructure & Transportation Senior Sales Manager for Milestone Systems, North America

There is no downtime for a city. Facing unique security and surveillance challenges, city assets include thousands and sometimes millions of people, government buildings, parks and residential infrastructure, transportation systems, malls, campuses and hospitals, to name a few.

Law enforcement agencies rely on video surveillance systems to providereal-time alerts and situational awareness, to recorded forensic evidence, and to act as a visual deterrent to crime. Officials need extensive camera coverage and reliable monitoring to ensure that citizens and property are being protected.

Networked video surveillance, wireless technologies, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have all advanced connectivity considerably over the last few years. Let’s look at how technology is impacting city surveillance, and particularly what we see in the evolving partnerships between the public and private sectors.

I work with law enforcement agencies on a daily basis.The number-one security technology topic that is trending is that cities want to be able to access video and utilize cameras from the private sector. What this means is being able to access video feeds from convenience stores, shopping centers, movie theaters, churches, colleges, K-12 schools—anyplace where there are a lot of people gathering. In the event of an emergency, law enforcement wants to access any video possible and bring it to their command centers for situational awareness, so they can respond and dispatch safely and appropriately.

There are a number of ways this can be done. Milestone has been working on a handful of projects in Nevada where we're using something called a Law Enforcement Video Gateway, which is a server that is paired with a recorder at a given location. Whether IP, analog or hybrid, the server stores a couple of hours of video. Then, when an event happens—such as a robbery or if a duress button is pressed, or a 911 call comes in from that location—law enforcement is granted access to live video at the location and is able to look at the last two hours of stored video to see what happened.

There is a particular convenience store that experiences an armed robbery every week. Law enforcement installed one of these video gateways at the location, streaming 34 cameras back to the Fusion Center. When the next armed robbery happened, the duress button was hit and law enforcement could see exactly what was happening at the location, what the suspect looked like, and what kind of vehicle he was driving.

MN ACESA trafficsafety reducedIncorporating private video, with restrictions, makes sense.

Technology is helping to extend this success.Beyond setting up systems like this at predetermined locations, cities and law enforcement are looking for ways to access any available camera within an area or neighborhood.

Imagine a 911 call coming in, and based on the location and camera availability—public or private—a system could automatically bring up surrounding cameras and provide situational awareness for law enforcement and other early responders.

Milestone has a partnership with a company call Sungard, who has made an integration with our video management software (VMS) and Milestone Mobile client where their system can push video information to the Fusion Center and, in turn, a dispatcher can push the video out to the in-car remote terminal of the officers responding to the situation. And if the officer is on foot, video can even be pushed to a remote device like a smartphone or tablet.

Command and Fusion Center displays

Usually there are multiple Fusion Centers in a city, and that's the beauty of the Milestone VMS platform. The Milestone XProtect Smart Wall allows users to create multiple command centers with shared, interactive data. As events are detected, the system will automatically grab available cameras in those locations and display the images to the operators.

When sharing private and public video, there are privacy concerns, so you're only going to allow law enforcement to see those images when a duress button is hit or a 911 call comes in. There’s no camera surfing involved; these are real-time responses to critical events. We can also create a dual-authentication security layer, where dual log-in access is required for viewing, or where some cameras are only available at certain times of day, or only during public events, like at a school, for example.

Collecting data, organizing information to make it useful and immediate

Back to our convenience store example, there’s a button under the counter. If the cashier feels threatened and hits the button, that alarm goes into the Milestone VMS at the local law enforcement video gateway, and it sends out a signal to the command center that there is a silent alarm. This alarm also goes to 911 Dispatch so they can start sending people, and now there's visibility from multiple levels. Dispatch and Fusion Center operators are monitoring the video, making decisions, and pushing the video information out to the squad car, so they know in advance the situation they will face on arrival.

Ultimately, we’ll see all of these video and data sources come together within what are called Geospatial Mapping systems. For years, cities and law enforcement have relied on some form of PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) to keep officers informed. But the new geospatial mapping takes this concept to a whole new level.

Geospatial mapping allows multiple agencies to input and capture video data, traffic conditions, officer GPS locations and more, all on a map, and layer that information with reported crimes, issued tickets, domestic violence calls and more. The result is a highly informative map of activity hot spots, allowing law enforcement to know how to respond to calls, and what they may be walking into. (Check out new Milestone Solution Partner Live Earth!)

Milestone Interconnect supports city surveillance

Milestone Interconnect is a system that allows all XProtect embedded appliances to interconnect with XProtect Corporate. It allows users to create a central surveillance operation across geographically dispersed sites. This unifies video streams no matter where they come from and imposes the system’s customized permission parameters and passwords.

For example, we had a major national sporting event in Phoenix last year, and one of the interesting things is that law enforcement wanted to tie together and monitor all surrounding areas and towns. The easiest way was through the Milestone Interconnect license.

With Milestone Interconnect, Central Command was able to pull in video from Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, and incorporate it with video from the stadium, airport, convention center, nightlife areas — everything fed back to the command centers and the operators were looking at all the video, all in real time. We're talking something like 2,800 cameras throughout the valley.

When we say the private sector, we’re talking about power companies, utilities, perhaps schools, private companies and other critical assets that can share information and provide eyes on the street.

Managing IoT devices, integrating data

From body cameras and dash cams to installed cameras and drones, Milestone can help with the integration and analyses of traditional and emerging video.Milestone has always strived to be an open platform to work with these different types of integrations. It's become part of the Milestone DNA to be the open platform that can bring together many sources and share the data across multiple devices, with the ability to add new innovations as they come on the market.

On the city surveillance side of things, drones have become a big part of the discussion. Being able to bring in video from drones or helicopters gives law enforcement huge visibility advantages. Imagine integrating this capability with another developing technology: high-altitude aircraft. Law enforcement can now deploy an unmanned aircraft with a 250-megapixel camera, high over a large public event, and stream images down to security personnel on the ground, providing the ultimate birds-eye view.

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