A Big Score

IP security solutions improve public safety

The city of Arlington, Texas, is sandwiched between Fort Worth and Dallas, where entertainment is stacked between historical sites and bustling industries, making it a popular destination. As the city grows and foot traffic increases, the Arlington Police Department is constantly looking to improve public safety.

With a population of more than 365,000 people, Arlington spreads over 100 miles and has plenty of exciting attractions, including the flagship Six Flags Over Texas amusement park and the Texas Rangers ballpark. Soon, tourists and residents also will have another attraction to look forward to -- the new Dallas Cowboys stadium. Estimated to cost $1.1 billion, the stadium will be completed in 2009, hold up to 100,000 people and be the site of major sporting events as early as 2011.

Preaparing for Game Day
In 2006, the city began a search for security solutions that would augment existing police protection in the entertainment district. Police regularly patrol the 2-mile wide area, but the department wanted to increase protection around busy intersections and popular areas in anticipation of bigger crowds.

Law enforcement was interested in a system that is scalable, flexible and cost-effective and that would provide real-time video to officers in the field. They also wanted cameras installed at various points across the 2-mile radius. Officers agreed that a wireless IP video solution made the most sense.

Law enforcement officials decided to deploy Motorola’s MOTOMESH Quattro technology, along with Sony SNC-RX550NMT cameras -- which together offered an advanced wireless video surveillance network.

As the lead vendor on the project, Motorola chose Sony SNC-RX550N-MT cameras because their features and functionality matched the needs of the department, and the network cameras complemented the mesh technology. Many of the benefits and efficiencies that the mesh technology provided are in part thanks to the advanced analytics, optics and video compression technologies of the Sony series of cameras. The networkable cameras deliver high-quality, high-resolution images. These images and the information they provide enable officers to make informed, split-second decisions that go a long way toward protecting the public.

Doing More with MESH
A mesh network was crucial to the effectiveness of Arlington’s security system. By deploying MOTOMESH, police were able to implement a solution that offered the security, capacity and flexibility required for the installation.

“The system enhances the public safety efforts of our departments by providing officers with secure and dedicated 4.9 GHz mobile broadband connectivity for video transfer,” said Gerard Eads, Arlington communications administrator. “Our existing private network was old and slow. We want to rely on public networks in case they became overloaded from heavy use during an emergency.”

The mesh network solution appeared ideal in deployment because of the support offered to high-speed data and video for fixed and mobile users, like police officers on the streets and in vehicles.

MOTOMESH has the capability to connect in all locations within network range so officers can receive streaming video whenever and wherever they are in the entertainment district. Always-on connectivity allows officers to increase productivity and better serve the public.

“We also looked for technology that had multi-hopping capabilities, which allows cameras and other devices to form instant, ad hoc broadband networks where no predeployed infrastructure exists,” Eads said. “This was especially helpful since some areas in Arlington did not have pre-existing infrastructure.”

The MOTOMESH-enabled Sony cameras also support multi-hopping because they act as a wireless router, so data can hop from camera to camera.

Because of the multi-hopping capability, officers can maintain productivity despite a potential power outage in the network. The network’s self-healing characteristics are able to route traffic around a downed node and continue to send video streams over the network and back to a central location, even when spot power outages occur.

Functionality the Police Can Count On
One of the many reasons Sony was chosen for the camera installation was wireless functionality. The cameras were installed on power-providing objects, such as light poles. Powered up and ready to go, they wirelessly transmit digital video between nodes.

The cameras support JPEG, MPEG-4 and H.264 compression. Given the bandwidth demands of the project, compression technology was important. While law enforcement is not currently leveraging H.264, it is an extremely efficient compression algorithm that allows files to be transmitted using half the bandwidth of other formats. In the meantime, the police use the camera’s MPEG-4 format, which provides a storage-saving solution that can achieve higher video quality while saving money.

In addition to these key features, and the need for excellent resolution to watch traffic below, PTZ cameras were necessary. The cameras provide 360 degrees of endless rotation, 26x optical zoom and highly sensitive day-night viewing. The sensitivity in the cameras works well in unpredictable light settings and when motion detection is required.

The department hopes to capitalize on the camera’s intelligent analytics in future phases of the security project. For example, the cameras can detect moving objects, creating an ID tag that notes size, position and location of an object. This intelligence will allow officers to set parameters and provide a defined way of sending alerts should something be out of place. Intelligent features also will help officers search video efficiently and more quickly.

Within the Arlington entertainment district, Sony SNC-RX550N-MT cameras were strategically placed to keep the area safe. For example, cameras were installed around the theme park, at busy intersections and in parking areas. The cameras aid the Office of Emergency Management in providing a large view of high-traffic areas. The cameras also provide situational awareness to keep officers apprised and provide evidence when incidents occur. The cameras also will be installed around the football stadium to reinforce police efforts.

The police department has reaped the benefits of the system, which has been in place for more than a year. Officers operate more efficiently because real-time video and broadband mobile office capabilities stream over the network. They also are able to share data quickly and effectively, which helps them make better decisions.

The system can be expanded with ease. In addition, the security system has helped the department achieve its goal of working productively as a team to safeguard residents and tourists in the entertainment district.

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