Cutting-edge Surveillance

Video solutions help reduce crime in New York City

Declining crime rates in many major cities can be attributed in part to technological advancements that deter prospective criminals and bolster rapid response time when crime does occur. New York City, for example, had a crime rate that decreased by 3 percent from 2009 to 2013, due in part to an increase in use of IP security cameras and cutting-edge software that allows thousands of camera feeds from a single site to be accessed remotely.

Following this approach, property owners of low-income housing projects across New York City rise above the challenge of unlawful activity by placing emphasis on well-maintained facilities and on-site security teams that cultivate safety via video surveillance.

Building from the Ground Up

When Omni New York purchased the River Park complex in the Bronx in 2012, the purchase was the largest in New York subsidized housing history. The firm sought to dramatically increase the quality of life for River Park’s more than 4,000 residents by renovating the development’s 1,654 tenant units and drastically reducing the amount of unwanted or unlawful activity. To achieve this goal, Reliant Safety, a subsidiary of Omni, devised a comprehensive security solution that included an on-site security team and thousands of video cameras.

In designing the system, Reliant sought a solution that was easy to install and operate, and that offered user-friendly VMS that could be effortlessly accessed by multiple users from a variety of locations. Early on, they conducted thorough market research into different CCTV system providers, ultimately concluding that Hikvision equipment was the best choice to meet their needs for ease of use, superior image quality and innovative software solutions.

One Camera per Unit Keeps Residents Safe

Reliant Safety’s goals included establishing a more secure atmosphere, installing new cameras to provide comprehensive coverage, both inside and outside of the buildings; and incorporating intelligent video management software (iVMS) to streamline and coordinate the solution.

When asked why Omni’s properties stand out from other subsidized housing developments, Ash Abolos, vice president of technology at Reliant Safety, said, “Every inch of our property is covered; we usually have on average one camera per unit.”

The IR Mini Bullet Camera, stationed in corridors, stairwells, lobbies and exterior areas of River Park Towers, works alongside megapixel mini dome cameras. These hardy cameras easily withstand harsh weather conditions and exhibit true day/night surveillance. In addition, the mini dome boasts an impact resistance rating greater than IK10 to safeguard against even the most determined vandal.

Custom-designed iVMS Software

Hikvision’s iVMS-5000 Integral Monitoring Management System Software ties the whole solution together.

“This software allows us to manage all of the new cameras, as well as older, preexisting models, on one convenient platform,” Abolos said. “We also use iVMS-5000 Enterprise to remotely link the NYPD and our own private security staff.”

Hikvision originally developed its innovative VMS for the Beijing Olympics. Although the software was initially made for a closed network, Reliant identified a need to connect with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) during special investigations into activities in violation of River Park’s rules and regulations. To ensure the success of the installation at River Park and at Omni’s other properties, Hikvision research and development custom-tailored the software so it could travel over the network to client machines. The reconfigured software was introduced as iVMS-5000, and now links River Park’s control room directly to the NYPD when the need arises.

“We work very closely with the police department,” Abolos said. “They have full access to all of our surveillance systems during any crisis so they are aware of the surroundings before they arrive on site.”

Detectives are assigned unique usernames and passwords as Reliant designates certain areas for each detective to access. If they are working on undercover investigations, for instance, they can view video footage remotely, enabling them to observe suspects in detail without the conspicuous presence of a police cruiser.

“The police love working with us because not only do we provide them remote eyes with our video surveillance system, but the software is incredibly easy to use,” Abolos said.

The Impact of Rapid Response Time

The combined forces of Reliant’s on-site security team, NYPD and Hikvision equipment have all played a role in reducing criminal activity at River Park Towers. Criminal activity decreased noticeably as soon as the cameras were installed, their presence acting as a deterrent to potential criminals. But, the function of the system is not simply surveillance; it boosts response times when unwanted activities occur and even prepares the security team for the future.

All facets of this system work in tandem with tremendously successful results. Recently a young man who was wanted by the police came onto the River Park property but fled before the police could respond. His image was captured on camera and stored in the IP video surveillance system. One week later, the in-house security team saw him re-enter the property, called the police and used the cameras to track the suspect through the lobby, into the elevator and up to a unit on the fourteenth floor.

When the police arrived on the scene, the security team was able to let them know exactly where the suspect was. As the police took the elevator up to the fourteenth floor, the suspect exited the apartment with another man. Because the real-time functionality of the high-definition cameras permitted the security team to follow the action, they relayed to the police that their suspects would be standing in the elevator lobby as soon as the doors opened.

The police immediately apprehended one suspect when they exited the elevator, but the other escaped down the stairs. He exited the stairwell on the tenth floor, ran across the hallway and headed down another stairwell on the opposite side of the building. The police who were pursuing him didn’t see him exit, so they continued down the first stairwell. Technology upheld the mission as the security team watching in the control room was able to follow every move of the fleeing suspect. They alerted the police waiting on the ground level and the second man was taken into custody as soon as he burst out into the open.

Collaboration Triumphs over Crime

Such a successful endeavor is a testament not only to the coordination and quick action of Reliant Safety and the NYPD, but to the dependability of the security equipment for real-time imagery and software that effortlessly manages multiple cameras operating in tandem.

Reliant has installed 8,000 Hikvision cameras in approximately 30 housing complexes spanning all five boroughs of New York City and extending to Omni properties in Boston as well.

“Hikvision’s state of the art technology gives us the ability to monitor thousands of real-time video feeds and link directly to law enforcement during any incident to immediately respond to the concerns of our tenants,” Abolos said.

Advanced video surveillance technology such as this serves the community by curbing criminal activity while helping residents feel safer and more secure in their surroundings.

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Security Today.

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