Smarter Storage - Benefits drive expansion of IP video systems in Bergen County, N.J.

Smarter Storage

Benefits drive expansion of IP video systems in Bergen County, N.J.

The advantages of video surveillance are well known, but at times, the full value is realized only after a system is installed. Realizing the benefits of IP video and its value beyond traditional security purposes, often leads to system expansion as customers seek to leverage video for more uses and realize expanded video coverage.

As an example, Bergen County, N.J. has expanded its IP video system in multiple phases spanning eight years. Each new phase has built upon, and was largely inspired by, the success of the previous phases. Every phase has added new value, and the combined end result has greatly improved the operation of multiple Bergen County departments, including corrections, the courts, the prosecutor’s office and probation. This success story will take a closer look at how the evolution of the system has benefited Bergen County, with value accelerating as the system has evolved and developed over time.

Evolution of the Project

The Bergen County Courthouse and Jail in Bergen County, N.J., is a juxtaposition of old and new. Built in 1911, the Bergen County Courthouse is a historical landmark with architecture that reflects the Beaux Arts classicism popular at the time for public buildings. Today, the courthouse and jail campus integrates stateof- the-art technology featuring a computerized central command center tied to all inmate-housing areas, integrated security for the protected premises, and a duress and panic alarm system. But, with its prior video system, the Bergen County Courthouse and Jail lacked strong images to provide personnel with the critical video needed to respond proactively to threats, liability issues and other problems.

The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) in Hackensack, N.J., is the largest law enforcement agency in all of Bergen County and provides a variety of functions for 70 municipalities under its umbrella. The BCSO is responsible for management and administration of a variety of facilities and services, including the Bergen County Courthouse and Jail.

The Value of Video

In 2004, Phil Lisk joined BCSO as the director of IT Technology. At that time, there was one server and 20 workstations. Workloads and capabilities have evolved over the past 10 years; Bergen County now has 1,300 different devices on the network and operates four separate networks.

The county previously relied on an analog-based video system to help ensure safety and security across its premises. More often than not, however, the cameras did not provide the broad range of coverage required to capture video of what did or did not happen, especially in the jail and inmate housing areas.

“We needed to upgrade our security system because we needed to see what was happening in the jail,” Lisk said. “At one time, there was one camera covering a high-risk area, and we were not able to capture video of incidents, making it extremely difficult to prove something didn’t happen. We needed complete coverage to be able to be more effective.”

Lisk looked at the costs of upgrading to an IP-based video solution and was quickly able to prove that a new system with expanded camera coverage and reliable storage could ensure the organization would have evidence of what occurred within BCSO facilities. “Once I reviewed the numbers of what it would cost for a new system, I was able to show that we could further protect ourselves in court and thus, mitigate our liability exposure.”

Ensuring Security and Controlling Liability

BCSO now has more than 800 surveillance cameras, which are tied to a Pivot3 hyper-converged infrastructure platform to ensure video capture. The comprehensive system delivers highquality video images to allow county officials to monitor video in real time, access stored video for post-event investigations and enhance situational awareness to ensure the safety of law enforcement. Bergen County leverages video to address liability issues such as slip-and-fall claims, and take full advantage of redundancy features and application failover to protect against natural disasters and terror attacks. Today, Pivot3 provides more than one Petabyte of video storage to BCSO.

“It is very important for us to have video storage with a high level of protection and redundancy, and that is mainly why we chose Pivot3,” Lisk said. “Pivot3 delivers the high availability, high recovery and high capacity we require.”

The most recent phase of the installation extends the surveillance network to the Bergen County prosecutor’s office to enable rapid sharing of video evidence. This initiative delivers significant cost savings of more than 20 percent due to the streamlining of processes between departments. Furthermore, multiple agencies across the county are merging practices to be more effective and simplify operations, developing further cost efficiencies across county infrastructure.

The Pivot3 hyper-converged infrastructure appliances offer the county a substantial value proposition in the products’ inherent scalability, while delivering high availability with application failover to secure investments in captured video, now and into the future. The hyper-converged infrastructure platforms simplify video control, administration and maintenance, seamlessly delivering video management and video storage capabilities in a single solution. The technology also eases the complexity of video management and storage because it is based on common IT methods and processes.

Lisk said he is interested in looking at new ways to incorporate the benefits of hyper-converged infrastructure into new areas. Pivot3 appliances can be layered to deliver centralized management capabilities, data storage, disaster recovery and mobile monitoring.

“Since we’ve experienced the reliability and scalability that Pivot3 appliances deliver, we are moving our digital images from crime scene investigations to Pivot3 appliances,” he said. “We look to further expand our capabilities with Pivot3 in the future to have larger storage capacity. Our goal is to have an all-inclusive system that is seamless to users.”

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

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