A Big Score
IP security solutions improve public safety
- By Eric Borton
- Oct 02, 2008
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
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
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
tourists in the entertainment