Italian City Uses Milestone VMS For Foundation Of Surveillance System

Milestone XProtect, an open platform IP video management software, has been chosen as the foundation for a flexible surveillance system by the city of Venaria, Italy.

The Milestone platform provides future scalability and the addition of new innovations such as Axis H.264 network cameras and the integration of license plate video analytics.

Just a few kilometers from Turin, Venaria last year welcomed one million visitors attracted by a beautiful 17th-century palace erected by the house of Savoy. The cultural complex and surrounding gardens constantly draw high-prestige visitors like the President of Italy, former U.S. president George Bush and current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. On this basis alone, one can appreciate that Venaria’s security needs are of the highest level. In addition, the Ceronda Creek and Stura River flow through municipal territory where the effects of any flooding on the palace and historic center are dreaded.

The municipal administration had tried to address these needs earlier with an analog video surveillance system, to protect some of the town’s crucial areas. That experience, according to Municipal Police Chief Luca Vivalda, “produced sparse results and brought critique.”

In January 2008 they conferred the task of a new IP installation to ASM Venaria, a public agency that is carrying out the project and handling the maintenance. The advantages are two-fold: cost savings and maximum guaranteed discretion in meeting high security needs associated with visiting public figures, as well as protecting the privacy of its citizens. The image data never leaves the municipality because there are no external agencies involved.

ASM personnel are Milestone-certified and directly involved in setting up the command center operations. They designed a scalable video surveillance system that was flexibly accessible, easy to use, compatible with privacy laws, and able to meet the local prefecture’s requirements pertaining to extraordinary events. The system covers the monitoring of traffic, the security of citizens, tourists and guests, and watching the rivers for the Civil Defense, where Axis cameras follow the watercourse flows in real time at critical junctures. The surveillance also monitors such areas as recreational parks and residential zones, schools and administration buildings.

ASM Venaria’s IT Manager Ivano Voghera explains the technology choices.

“Chief Vivalda and I undertook inspections in other cities with video surveillance installations, carefully evaluating both hardware and software,” he said. “We chose Milestone’s IP video software platform and Axis network cameras. The Milestone platform has the right functionality for the operations center, which fully met our requirements for a system simple enough for the staff to easily learn it, yet capable enough to guarantee immediate response to any need whatsoever.”

The project is entirely financed by the municipality. The installation required a new network infrastructure and that choice fell to mesh technology, which is quick to set up and reliable: in case of a radio link crash, the data communication is passed to another link. It is supported by a fiber optic network.

About 90 Axis network cameras are installed. Initially Axis 233 dome cameras and 233M fixed cameras had been chosen, however, they have since been nearly all replaced with the newer Axis Q1755, which is full HD and supports the H.264 protocol that uses less bandwidth.

The IP video software is Milestone XProtect Corporate, preferred for its greater degree of functionality.

“Milestone ensures a high level of service,” Voghera said. “For example, when we decided to go with the Axis Q1755, it was so new that not even Milestone had the proper drivers yet, but they supplied them in just 15 days, allowing the project to go forward as needed.”

In 2009 license plate recognition was also implemented, exploiting a much-appreciated capability of the Milestone platform to integrate new functions and video analysis modules that can be implemented as need arises by simply adding the required dedicated license, without having to modify the user interface.

The Milestone platform enabled the creation of a distributed architecture system in which all the images are converged onto a central server accessible by the municipal administration. Taking advantage of the Milestone video management for creating a varied and controlled user access hierarchy, the installation allows workstations to also be deployed at the traffic control center, municipal health authority, civil defense and the national police station. Operators are given rights to certain cameras by location, and to live or recorded images, as relevant.

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