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California State University implements wireless video surveillance systems to achieve higher standards for public safety

California State University at Long Beach, the largest campus of the California State University system, spans 323 acres and operates 84 academic buildings and 18 residence halls. The campus accommodates its 38,000 students, who are mostly commuters, with numerous remote parking lots. Its proximity to major highways makes it prone to safety concerns including vandalism, auto theft and trespassers. In addition, the campus hosts more than 350 events annually, attracting up to 150,000 visitors to its performance halls, conferences centers and exhibit venues. With such volume and pace, the campus police needed a surveillance system to help its officers cover more ground, but disrupting campus to lay fixed cables was not an option.

"The reason to design, install and implement a wireless security system was the increasing needs of our community," said Stanley Skipworth, chief of police of California State University at Long Beach. "Over the years, our campus has grown in scope and sophistication in terms of day-to-day activities and special events. We needed to enhance our public safety capabilities by providing an expanded view of activities on campus, including building exteriors, parking lots and surrounding areas. Another important consideration was the ability to respond immediately to developing situations, as well as adjust our response even before we arrive at the scene."

Best Practice

Upon recommendations from local law enforcement agencies, including the L.A. County Sheriff 's Department and the Santa Monica Police Department, the school chose to implement a wireless video surveillance system that employs Firetide networks, Bosch cameras and IndigoVision encoders.

Thirty-seven Bosch AutoDome 300 Series day/night PTZ cameras with 26x zoom were installed on light poles, on various structures around campus and in the remote parking lots; 29 of them are connected wirelessly. Forty Firetide HotPort® 6000 mesh nodes were installed throughout the campus and are centrally managed and controlled using HotView Pro Network Management Software. The network operates in the licensed 4.9 GHz band to reduce interference. Signs are posted in areas under surveillance while dispatchers monitor live camera feeds and alert police on patrol of incidents. "We designed the system so the camera feeds cover the predominant majority of the campus," Skipworth said. "In many locations, a developing situation can be viewed by two or more cameras. This allows us to further validate suspicions and arrive at the best strategic decision on how to respond."

The AutoDome 300 Series delivers excellent performance in all lighting conditions and is vandal resistant, which are important features for a campus setting since classes and events take place from morning until night. The cameras support 99 pre-positions and two styles of guard tours—pre-set and record/playback‐and two recorded tours offer a combined duration of 15 minutes of movement.

"The AutoDome 300 Series of PTZ dome cameras are ideal for campus settings as they can provide surveillance coverage over large areas, such as parking lots, and shared spaces between buildings, like walkways, and outdoor areas where students congregate," said Chris Johnston, product marketing manager of Bosch Security Systems. "Surveillance coverage in these open areas helps bolster security without the cost of adding personnel."

More than 90 IndigoVision 8000 Series of transmitter/receivers were installed for the project. The stand-alone or rack-mounted units convert analog camera signals to an MPEG-4 compressed digital stream for transmission over the IP network. IndigoVision's advanced compression technology allows high-quality video to be transmitted at full-frame rate, over large distances and with low latency, all with minimal impact on network bandwidth. The transmitter/receivers also can transmit highquality two-way audio across the network, which can be recorded alongside the video.

Two NVR servers were employed with a recording capacity of 100 video streams along with Control Center IP video and alarm management software, which allows an operator to view live and recorded video from any camera on the IP network. This creates a virtual matrix that allows unrestricted switching of video streams around the system.

"IndigoVision's advanced compression technology allows high-quality video to be transmitted across networks with minimal bandwidth," said Oliver Vellacott, CEO of IndigoVision. "This, coupled with a truly distributed architecture, makes our complete end-to-end solution an ideal platform for deploying wireless IP video networks on a large university campus."

In Action

The system, completed in November 2008, has already led to dozens of arrests, including one felony weapons possession charge.

"The security camera system has served as a deterrent to committing offences and other illicit activities," Skipworth said. "The system also provides courtroom-quality video for incident review and evidentiary purposes, if needed. So far, we've used the system in responding to a number of suspicious activities, as well as medical emergencies. We've also used the camera system to monitor traffic conditions."

In the final design plan, officers in patrol cars will be able to stream live video from the network to further serve and protect the campus.

This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Security Today.

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