Technologies Drive Interagency Collaboration

Technologies Drive Interagency Collaboration

Solutions enable local agencies to maintain safe, secure environment

Cities are a challenge to secure and manage—they encompass a wide geographic footprint and include a multitude of key stakeholders comprising local, state and federal agencies along with a variety of private business entities and public organizations. Providing the highest level of situational and intelligence awareness is critical for first responders who are responsible for maintaining business continuity and the highest level of safety for visitors and residents.

Comprehensive surveillance coverage is a crucial component of any citywide security initiative. Other technology platforms, such as access control, video analytics, building management, communications networks and IT infrastructure, are also important. By working together, these solutions enable local agencies to maintain a safe and secure environment. However, without interagency collaboration and technologies that enable key components of a citywide initiative to work together, the job of first responders can become infinitely more difficult and even impossible.

Expanding Coverage

Video surveillance often is the first step towards building a strong security program within a city. After experiencing initial success of a camera deployment, cities look to expand the reach of that initial investment to include other critical areas of its geography, primarily focusing on hot spots. But beyond simply putting up more cameras, city officials should look to incorporate public/private partnership goals as a part of the security expansion project with the ultimate goal being to achieve video intelligence and other critical information sharing between the city and all other stakeholders.

True collaboration is essential to a strong security posture. The first part of such an initiative is to bring city officials and agencies together to discuss the approach and the overall goal. Because different agencies have ownership over various facilities and technology systems, it is critical that these discussions happen early on in a project to ensure stakeholder buy-in. Creating a win-win situation for all key stakeholders is the only way to succeed with this type of initiative.

As many people involved with municipal surveillance projects can attest, bringing all of the various departments and agencies within an individual city on board with just sharing video can be a difficult challenge to overcome. Once these hurdles are resolved, the technical challenge of consolidating and sharing all the disparate assets remains a big challenge.

Mutually Beneficial Relationships

Different entities—a courthouse and a city hall, for example—most likely have different technology systems for each individual building. Such products can include video cameras, video management systems, analytics and access control among others. Oftentimes, one department can provide an additional benefit to the other. For example, if the courthouse has cameras that capture video to the rear entrance of city hall, security officials may want to share this video with the other facility. Finding a way to share resources is a mutually beneficial arrangement between various government and private entities because it helps reduce resources, maximize existing technology investment and control costs.

Since various agencies and facilities have differing technology systems, true collaboration cannot exist without integrating these various products. If one video management system cannot “talk” to another, information cannot be shared in real time. Therefore, cities embarking on a plan to connect information from multiple sources require a platform that can interface with various networks and allow agencies to share their camera feeds without the city or any of the other stakeholders having to provide access to their private, secure networks.

The ability to pull together disparate video systems and other important platforms—both security and operational—enables new levels of information sharing, lower response times and enhanced security for all.

Enterprise command center software (ECCS) can help cities overcome the technical challenge of integrating disparate technologies— opening up security systems to enable concurrent, real-time sharing across agencies during a crisis. ECCS allows disparate devices to work as one integrated system, allowing each stakeholder quick access to the security systems and platforms they need. Cities benefit from true situational awareness to support cohesive and coordinated action between the various departments and other key agencies.

The correlation of multiple disparate systems into one platform also delivers tremendous return-on-investment (ROI). Police can share video with other cooperating cities, which is important if they are tracking criminal activity across multiple areas and jurisdictions.

Police can immediately broaden the scope of their own surveillance system by expanding to new areas within the city limits. Video can also be shared with private businesses. For example, police can receive video verification of duress alarms from local entities, such as banks, liquor stores and check cashing locations, to ensure vital resources are being maximized and law enforcement is responding according to the actual threat. For instance, if a duress alarm is activated in a bank that is participating in the program, dispatchers will have the capability to view the bank’s cameras and can alert responding law enforcement and other first responders with precise details on what, if anything, is happening. Additionally, they can continue to gather intelligence during the event, which can then be shared in real time with law enforcement on the scene until the situation is resolved. This type of complete situational awareness will save significant time, money and in some cases, even human lives because ultimately, dispatchers can evaluate the situation in real time before dispatching law enforcement and the responding officers will know exactly what they are dealing with when they arrive at the scene.

ECCS platforms promise more than just video sharing and verification of alarms. Integration with other systems, such as access control, intrusion, fire alarms and other systems, deliver a comprehensive view of security and safety initiatives, and help users identify emerging trends across a geographic area. ECCS enables the combination of independent public and private systems to operate collaboratively and deliver real-time, citywide situational awareness. Additionally, budgets are maximized as users can leverage existing technology into ECCS platforms to improve response and effectively address any potential security threat.

Enhanced crisis management is a tremendous benefit of today’s enterprise command center platforms as they provide a tool for the sharing of recorded and real-time surveillance video to a multitude of key stakeholders in a single easy-to-use interface.

Imagine a situation where multiple first responding agencies and other law enforcement organizations are trying to coordinate a joint response to a terrorist threat that covered multiple locations in one city. The sharing of real-time video from multiple VMS platforms to all first responders alone would be virtually impossible without a tool that normalizes the video from multiple sources and provides an easy-to-use platform for the sharing of this video to all stakeholders involved in the crisis.

ECCS and similar technologies should be strongly considered as a necessary component and unique tool that can be used by a wide variety of local governments, first responders, law enforcement agencies, cities and counties to bring together disparate video and other security platforms, enabling real-time sharing of important data across the enterprise network.

This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Security Today.

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