Street Smart

To ensure safety, city installs surveillance equipment throughout metro area

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama, spanning 151 square miles and boasting a downtown population of nearly 230,000. Like any major city, it has its share of crime and vandalism. To help combat this and provide a safe environment for residents and visitors, the city has installed 40 video surveillance cameras throughout the metropolitan area.

Thinking Ahead

In early 2008, the mayor hired system integrator ION Interactive Video Technologies to install surveillance cameras in various outdoor locations across the city. ION specializes in IPbased security solutions for businesses and organizations of all sizes, including municipalities.

The city also selected ION for its trained professional agents who remotely monitor the installed cameras from the company's own control center. Agents instantly notify the Birmingham Police Department of any potential threat or suspicious behavior, and the police immediately step in to respond and handle the situation.

"ION provides state-of-the-art solutions to assist in keeping cities, publicaccess areas and government facilities safe, secure and protected, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Ed Weldon, CEO of ION. "Our monitoring agents help to facilitate a quicker response to nearly any situation, providing a high degree of security and safety on city streets."

Managed Masses

As part of the installation, ION chose to work with digital camera manufacturer VideoIQ, the inventor of the iCVR, an intelligent video surveillance camera with a built-in DVR. ION chose the iCVR for its ability to monitor for and detect crowds, something the city wanted to keep a particularly close eye on.

"A large crowd can often accompany trouble, and the iCVR's next-generation analytics can automatically detect when a certain number of people are congregating in a specific area," Weldon said. "This gives us advance warning of a potential problem and enables the police to respond before an incident takes place. Additionally, with built-in audio over IP, our remote guards can use loudspeakers to inform intruders they've been detected—driving them off and preventing crime."

The iCVR intelligently controls storage resolution based on what it sees. For example, a potential threat, such as a car in a restricted area or someone lurking near a store front, is recorded at the highest possible resolution and quality, but during times when nothing is taking place, the camera captures images at a lower quality, allowing the built-in 80 GB hard drive to store one to two months worth of video and ultimately saving money.

"Because ION is using the VideoIQ cameras in addition to just installing them, we can be considered a customer as much as the city of Birmingham," Weldon said. "We are pleased with the performance of the iCVR and consider it a cost-effective and efficient solution."

A Higher Level of Security

The cameras have been up and running in the city since August 2008. Throughout 2009, more cameras are scheduled to be installed in the downtown area, replacing the city's older cameras with limited functionality. ION also has plans to layer some of the city's PTZ cameras with the VideoIQ iCVR, giving video technicians the dual ability to zoom in on an event or person of interest and view them with the iCVR's exceptional image resolution.

"Birmingham places the safety and security of its residents and tourists as its foremost priority," Weldon said. "ION's proactive approach to security combined with the power and accuracy of the VideoIQ iCVR provides a level of security protection we are proud to deliver."

About the Author

Scott Schnell is the president and CEO of VideoIQ.

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