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Orlando Police implement IP-based video surveillance system

In talking with officials from the Orlando Police Department about IRIS (Innovative Response to Improve Safety), the city’s new IP-based video surveillance system, enthusiasm for the project is clearly evident.

The program was implemented this past year and was designed to aid law enforcement in ensuring safer streets and more livable neighborhoods. Through the use of video management software from OnSSI, law enforcement is able to more effectively utilize the captured video from cameras installed throughout the city of Orlando.

Similar in design to a system that is deployed throughout central Florida initiated by the Department of Homeland Security, the Orlando video surveillance system is built around the OnSSI video management IP software solution. This powerful application allows the Orlando Police Department (OPD) to create a fully featured video surveillance network that can control and record video from hundreds of cameras, as well as automatically display or “push” video to monitors or PDAs from cameras that have received an alarm condition.

Orlando Police Captain Jeff Goltz said, “The cameras are out there and running real time. If we see or are alerted to some activity, we can immediately send officers to that activity. There’s a big difference between that and reviewing video after the fact.”

Many cities around the country have been successful in helping to deter criminal activity and in making neighborhoods safer when they deployed IP-based video surveillance, and in part Orlando drew its inspiration from these successes. At the same time of the Orlando initiative, the retailer Target was promoting its Safe City Program, which endorses the use of various technologies to increase communications and effectiveness in crime prevention. The two were able to partner on the initiative. Additional donations and partnerships with local businesses enabled the OPD to proceed with the first phase of the program, which included 17 IP cameras installed and networked back to the OPD command center.

Supplementing the permanently installed cameras, the OPD has also put together a portable, 12-camera wireless mesh system, provided by Avrio Group and utilizing Firetide wireless equipment, which can be used for temporary installations such as rallies, fairs, sporting events or any public event needing additional security. The video is sent wirelessly back to the OPD command center where operators can monitor the situation and control the cameras using the pan / tilt / zoom functions of the OnSSI control software. A Firetide mesh wireless network was installed to enable the wireless connection.

Most recently, the portable system was used at the Sebring International Raceway for the running of the American Le Mans series 12-hour car endurance race. OPD officials said it was easy to set up the wireless cameras and send the video back to the command center. Deputies at the command center were trained on the system in about 10 minutes, and they were able to remotely monitor the crowds and the facilities using the PTZ function embedded in the OnSSI control software. Signage was posted throughout the race track so the public knew the cameras were there and that video surveillance was in progress.

In another example, the portable system was set up for a nationally televised football game between the University of Central Florida and University of South Florida. With the freedom and capability made possible by the OnSSI system, law enforcement officers are only limited by their imagination as to where and when network-based video surveillance can be used to help make an area more safe and secure.

Because IP-based solutions open the door for linking systems and areas, Orlando schools, condo residences, shopping malls and any other facilities that have IP-based video surveillance systems can also be tied into the OnSSI system. The software allows an unlimited number of cameras to be supported and features open architecture to ease system integration. Several government buildings in the city already use the OnSSI system as well as the OC (Orange County) jail. The OC Convention Center is currently undergoing an upgrade to IP-based cameras and OnSSI control software, and the new Event Center, scheduled to open in 2010, will also deploy the OnSSI solution.

According to Detective Jeffery Blye of the Regional Electronic Surveillance Support Team, the IRIS project uses a dedicated network and Dell servers for archiving the video, with about 100 terabytes of available space. It is generally agreed that the program is a great success, and while it is still in the infancy stage, the system is expected to grow to more than 1,000 cameras during the next five years. Also, the OnSSI solution allows the OPD to use OTS (off-the-shelf) computers, which means they can quickly and easily replace or add to the system within reasonable economic parameters.

As the system is built out, Blye anticipates they will implement more of the analytic and forensic features available from OnSSI. Currently they are using the on-board PTZ controls for more in-depth monitoring and analysis and the motion detection for push video, the latter of which allows live video images to be sent to a cell phone or to “pop” them up on the monitor at the command center. Blye said, “We can easily deploy video to areas that require our attention, and operators can monitor these areas remotely or from our centralized command post. The PTZ controls make it easy to track the activity of suspects.”

Future applications may also include overlay maps on the GUI (graphical user interface) with camera locations and directions to allow faster orientation and action.

Photos courtesy of OnSSI.

Published in Public Safety IT, Jul/Aug 2009

Rating : 9.7

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