Veterans Memorial Service

Lisa Morris of Cedar Park, Texas, is the first to admit that she is far from being a security expert. There’s no doubt, however, that she is a loving mother and an extremely involved citizen. Her son, Army Spc. Matthew Morris, was among those Central Texas veterans who gave their life while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2011, his mother, along with several other volunteers, joined forces with the Cedar Park Veterans Memorial Citizens Advisory Group to honor military veterans who have given their lives serving our country.

The group raised money to build the Cedar Park memorial that includes a sevenfoot, bronze-cast statue of a soldier inspired by Morris. The black granite column for the monument weighs approximately 15,000 pounds and has a gray granite base that is 12 feet in diameter with six-foot-tall panels. The statue is located in a somewhat secluded and natural wooded area of the memorial park. This makes the area quiet, but also vulnerable to vandalism and even theft.

On a mission, Morris and her team began making calls to local security companies to explain the location of the memorial and the unique environmental factors. What Morris found was initially disappointing.

However, after receiving a few similar proposals, the group found Austin-based Totus Solutions. Morris and the team of volunteers were then introduced to the company’s platforms. The platform is an all-in-one, outdoor lighting-based system that uses LED lighting, IP video surveillance, multi-day media storage, and an option of secure wireless communications. The platform’s IP-based cameras deliver complete situational awareness of any site they’re placed on, from memorial parks to public transit stations to construction sites. The technology means Morris and Veterans Park staff can successfully secure the memorial and circumvent traditional security systems’ flaws, where the cameras are ineffective because they are not pointed in the right direction or breaches in security are captured after the fact.

Not only does the technology have the ability to capture high-quality video of what’s happening at a location—using a 360-degree fisheye, three-megapixel hemispheric IP camera—but the system can also discourage unscrupulous behaviour with audio broadcasts and flashing lights. Totus calls this event-triggered piece of the security puzzle Active Deterrence. Miller calls the technology peace of mind.

Active Deterrence technology uses analytics-triggered lighting and audio to draw attention to an incident. It has continuous, 360-degree field of view and recording to capture video and still clips of on-site events. After park hours, the system is triggered by unwanted events inside a specified parameter or geo-fence. When events are detected, the Totus system flashes lights and plays a pre-recorded audio message such as, “The park is closed; you are under video surveillance.” If motion is detected and the individual proceeds, the event is escalated. The system continues, “Security has been called; video clips are being emailed to the police and city employees.”

A veteran himself, Bill Kreger, a senior consultant with systems integrator ASG Security, was honored to be involved in this project. He believes that the active deterrence capabilities of the system, as well as the 360-degree, IP cameras, made this system a clear choice.

Working with the Cedar Park Authority, Kreger determined the optimal viewing angles for the cameras. He wanted to clearly capture video of the stairway, the pedestal and the monument. The “open book” design of the technology allowed Kreger to precisely illuminate the areas that are most vulnerable with only two light-based systems. Along with Morris, Kreger was happy not to interfere with the carefully crafted aesthetics of the memorial. The IP cameras are powered by the embedded PoE network hub.

Kreger placed two surveillance platforms about 22 feet above the two main walkways to the memorial. He also positioned the system to keep a clear line of sight with the park’s pool house; Wi-Fi radios were used for wireless network connection to the city’s wide-area network. Kreger also installed an omni- directional wireless transceiver for sharing electronic data. Once the city was able to open the appropriate ports, images and video could be recorded and stored on the internal SD card, as well as sent over the secure network.

Another feature of the security platforms is that the lighting can be programmed to dim at night. And because they use LED technology, the lighting system saves up to 70 percent energy versus legacy streetlights. By setting the light-based system to 25 to 50 percent brightness at night, even remote areas have greater security and higher levels of protection.

“The 360-degree surveillance capability of Totus technology itself is like having 16 cameras in one, so we only needed two systems total,” Kreger said. “The software is designed to evaluate the picture and show it to be vertical and horizontal, depending on what section you want it to look at. You can tilt the image to whatever size you want, which just isn’t possible with other systems I’ve seen.”

Kreger and Morris are happy with the results of the security platforms to date. Although they realize warmer summer months ahead will translate to more activity at the park, with the technology in place they are hopeful and confident vandalism will be discouraged. Six months after the system has been up, no damage has been recorded at the monument site and the bronze soldier statue remains as it should—luminous and left in peace.

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Security Today.

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