Technologies Drive Interagency Collaboration
Solutions enable local agencies to maintain safe, secure environment
Cities are a challenge to secure and manage—they encompass
a wide geographic footprint and include a multitude
of key stakeholders comprising local, state and federal
agencies along with a variety of private business entities
and public organizations. Providing the highest level of situational
and intelligence awareness is critical for first responders who are responsible
for maintaining business continuity and the highest level of
safety for visitors and residents.
Comprehensive surveillance coverage is a crucial component of
any citywide security initiative. Other technology platforms, such
as access control, video analytics, building management, communications
networks and IT infrastructure, are also important. By
working together, these solutions enable local agencies to maintain
a safe and secure environment. However, without interagency
collaboration and technologies that enable key components of a
citywide initiative to work together, the job of first responders can become infinitely more difficult and even impossible.
Video surveillance often is the first step towards building a strong
security program within a city. After experiencing initial success of
a camera deployment, cities look to expand the reach of that initial
investment to include other critical areas of its geography, primarily
focusing on hot spots. But beyond simply putting up more cameras,
city officials should look to incorporate public/private partnership
goals as a part of the security expansion project with the ultimate
goal being to achieve video intelligence and other critical information
sharing between the city and all other stakeholders.
True collaboration is essential to a strong security posture. The
first part of such an initiative is to bring city officials and agencies
together to discuss the approach and the overall goal. Because different
agencies have ownership over various facilities and technology
systems, it is critical that these discussions happen early on in a
project to ensure stakeholder buy-in. Creating a win-win situation
for all key stakeholders is the only way to succeed with this type of
As many people involved with municipal surveillance projects
can attest, bringing all of the various departments and agencies
within an individual city on board with just sharing video can be a
difficult challenge to overcome. Once these hurdles are resolved, the
technical challenge of consolidating and sharing all the disparate assets
remains a big challenge.
Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Different entities—a courthouse and a city hall, for example—most
likely have different technology systems for each individual building.
Such products can include video cameras, video management
systems, analytics and access control among others. Oftentimes, one
department can provide an additional benefit to the other. For example,
if the courthouse has cameras that capture video to the rear
entrance of city hall, security officials may want to share this video
with the other facility. Finding a way to share resources is a mutually
beneficial arrangement between various government and private entities
because it helps reduce resources, maximize existing technology
investment and control costs.
Since various agencies and facilities have differing technology
systems, true collaboration cannot exist without integrating these
various products. If one video management system cannot “talk” to
another, information cannot be shared in real time. Therefore, cities
embarking on a plan to connect information from multiple sources
require a platform that can interface with various networks and allow
agencies to share their camera feeds without the city or any of the
other stakeholders having to provide access to their private, secure
The ability to pull together disparate video systems and other
important platforms—both security and operational—enables new
levels of information sharing, lower response times and enhanced
security for all.
Enterprise command center software (ECCS) can help cities overcome
the technical challenge of integrating disparate technologies—
opening up security systems to enable concurrent, real-time sharing
across agencies during a crisis. ECCS allows disparate devices to work
as one integrated system, allowing each stakeholder quick access to
the security systems and platforms they need. Cities benefit from true
situational awareness to support cohesive and coordinated action between
the various departments and other key agencies.
The correlation of multiple disparate systems into one platform
also delivers tremendous return-on-investment (ROI). Police can
share video with other cooperating cities, which is important if they
are tracking criminal activity across multiple areas and jurisdictions.
Police can immediately broaden the scope of their own surveillance
system by expanding to new areas within the city limits. Video
can also be shared with private businesses. For example, police can
receive video verification of duress alarms from local entities, such
as banks, liquor stores and check cashing locations, to ensure vital
resources are being maximized and law enforcement is responding
according to the actual threat. For instance, if a duress alarm is activated
in a bank that is participating in the program, dispatchers will
have the capability to view the bank’s cameras and can alert responding
law enforcement and other first responders with precise details
on what, if anything, is happening. Additionally, they can continue to
gather intelligence during the event, which can then be shared in real
time with law enforcement on the scene until the situation is resolved.
This type of complete situational awareness will save significant time,
money and in some cases, even human lives because ultimately, dispatchers
can evaluate the situation in real time before dispatching law
enforcement and the responding officers will know exactly what they
are dealing with when they arrive at the scene.
ECCS platforms promise more than just video sharing and verification
of alarms. Integration with other systems, such as access control,
intrusion, fire alarms and other systems, deliver a comprehensive
view of security and safety initiatives, and help users identify emerging
trends across a geographic area. ECCS enables the combination
of independent public and private systems to operate collaboratively
and deliver real-time, citywide situational awareness. Additionally,
budgets are maximized as users can leverage existing technology into
ECCS platforms to improve response and effectively address any potential
Enhanced crisis management is a tremendous benefit of today’s
enterprise command center platforms as they provide a tool for the
sharing of recorded and real-time surveillance video to a multitude of
key stakeholders in a single easy-to-use interface.
Imagine a situation where multiple first responding agencies and
other law enforcement organizations are trying to coordinate a joint
response to a terrorist threat that covered multiple locations in one
city. The sharing of real-time video from multiple VMS platforms
to all first responders alone would be virtually impossible without a
tool that normalizes the video from multiple sources and provides an
easy-to-use platform for the sharing of this video to all stakeholders
involved in the crisis.
ECCS and similar technologies should be strongly considered as
a necessary component and unique tool that can be used by a wide
variety of local governments, first responders, law enforcement agencies,
cities and counties to bring together disparate video and other
security platforms, enabling real-time sharing of important data
across the enterprise network.
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Security Today.