Bringing the Feeds Together

Bringing the Feeds Together

LAPD connects more than 400 distributed cameras from multiple organizations in California to secure high-profile international event

Held in Los Angeles, Calif., the 2015 Special Olympics World Games (LA2015) was considered the single biggest event in the city since the 1984 Summer Olympics, and the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015. The international event welcomed 6,500 athletes and 2,000 coaches, representing 165 countries. It was estimated that more than 500,000 spectators and 30,000 volunteers attended the Games.

Ramping Up Security

The sheer size and notoriety of the event had the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) planning security and operational logistics long before the opening ceremony.

“LA2015 was about inclusion,” said Commander Dennis Kato, LAPD Planning Group, Special Olympics World Games Organizing Committee, “The events were open to the public, and anyone was free to walk into any event. The events were spread throughout the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach. This posed unique security challenges for us, where we needed to rely heavily on cameras and boots-on-the-ground officers for situational awareness.”

Among the LA2015 venues were the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Southern California (USC), as well as other sports complexes and event facilities in Los Angles and the nearby city of Long Beach. Each facility was already outfitted with its own security center platform, which was managed by its respective police and security forces.

Software Enables LAPD to Build Unified Security Command Post

Based on guidelines of a national program called Incident Command Structure (ICS), a plan was set in place to build a centralized command post in a vacant police headquarters in the city of Los Angeles. From there, existing cameras from these venues needed to be accessed for live viewing and video review; but one challenge remained: How could the LAPD connect the disparate surveillance systems at each venue, and centralize the monitoring of the event from one unified command post?

After discussions with LAPD’s major crimes division and a proofof- concept demonstration, Kato knew that only one solution could enable them to share video access and collaborate with various stakeholders: Genetec Omnicast, the video surveillance system of Security Center, and the Genetec Federation-as-a-Service (FaaS) capability. Since many venues were already running Security Center systems, the LAPD leveraged FaaS, a highly-scalable cloud service, to connect their command post across the multiple sites and monitor over 400 video cameras. Installation of the service was easy as no on-site servers were required, and the cloud-enabled Federation feature facilitated a seamless connection across all the distributed sites.

FaaS Promotes Effective Collaboration

“It was the first time at a command post, where I felt I never needed to leave,” Kato said. “I had enough coverage to get a feel for what was happening at each one of those venues. That’s truly why Federationas- a-Service was such a pivotal capability for our operations.”

With Kato spearheading operations, the security command post comprised one large, well-equipped monitoring room and more than 150 people from various municipal, state and national departments.

A massive video wall complemented five monitoring hubs that were divvied up into a UCLA division, a Long Beach division, a USC division, a Los Angeles Convention Center area division and another division for other sports centers and event areas. At each venue, a communication center also was in operation, where the LAPD worked alongside local security and fire teams, an Olympic Games committee organizer and other decision-makers.

LAPD Keeps Special Needs Athletes Safe with Security Center

At any Special Olympics event, keeping track of athletes is a top priority. Operators at the unified command post found Security Center to be very intuitive, and were quickly able to pull up cameras upon request and conduct forensics searches with ease.

“Normally at our command posts, we rely heavily on the radio, but radio can only give you a verbal description of what is happening on the ground,” Kato said. “With real-time video, everyone had a direct view of what was happening and everyone was on the same page. FaaS allowed us to pull video from our partners, which was crucial to the security of the games as it ensured our command post operated efficiently and smoothly.”

Controlling access to systems and maintaining the privacy of certain cameras were key in forming successful partnerships among everyone that was involved. FaaS enabled parties to define which cameras were shared, which operators could access them, how far back operators would be authorized to view recorded video, and what level of control the LAPD would have over PTZ camera. As the LAPD needed to be cautious not to overload the network at the command post, they could also cap the video resolution when multiple cameras were being viewed, helping to limit the bandwidth required.

Looking Beyond LA2015 into City-wide Surveillance Expansion

Considering the success of the unified command post at LA2015, LAPD is considering how a similar structure could benefit the city of Los Angeles as they continue to upgrade their surveillance infrastructure. Kato and LAPD also are particularly interested in equipping his team with the Security Center Mobile app to allow officers to access video from their mobile devices.

“Without this software and FaaS, I would not have been able to secure the same level of awareness during the Special Olympics World Games,” Kato said. “We were able to quickly setup a centralized monitoring facility that connected us to the cameras across each venue. This solution was instrumental in making our unified command post work and without the solutions in place, we would not have been able to function as efficiently as we did during those 12 days.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Security Today.

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