Sinaloa, Mexico sees connected cities as the proper alternative
- By Margie Gurwin
- May 01, 2018
In Sinaloa, Mexico, the state’s government
views enhancing public safety
and security as priority number one.
Sinaloa’s climate and terrain are perfect
for supporting its booming agricultural and
industrial economy, and this prosperity is
dependent on effective law enforcement efforts
that combat the influence of powerful
drug cartels entrenched within the region.
Culiacan is Sinaloa’s capital and largest
city; more than 850,000 people live within
the city and surrounding municipality. It
is from there that M.C. Jose de Jesus Galvez,
the state’s Secretary of Innovation and close
aide to the governor, is busy at work creating
the state’s first unified security solution
that he hopes will become a model for all
All major cities in Sinaloa have been secured
by citywide surveillance solutions for
well over a decade. While these systems have
been effective at the local level, the state recognized
the need for a more secure, responsive
environment capable of providing a single-
seat view of their entire security domain.
The new statewide initiative seeks to
combine these disparate citywide systems
within a single platform, allowing for greater
coordination between all municipalities and
their law enforcement agencies.
Leveraging a Thin Client
As with many city and state governments, Culiacan
and Sinaloa lacked extensive financial
resources to pay for their security upgrade; yet
it was not an option to consider any solution
that required compromises in performance or
reliability. Sinaloa’s solution is built upon Vicon’s
new web-based VMS, Valerus.
“Making use of a thin client provides
tremendous value,” said M.C. Galvez, one of
the systems integrators involved in the project.
“Using a traditional thick-client solution,
the cost and hassle of maintaining current
software on all monitoring stations is
“In the past, every time an upgrade was
released, we spent a lot of time and money
bringing all of the system’s PCs up to speed.
With the Valerus thin client, all of that has
been eliminated. The only hardware that requires
a software upgrade is the application
server. The monitoring stations are always current
and require no maintenance whatsoever.”
Galvez said that his security team “can access
the platform from anywhere, from any
computer. We’ve been able to use many of the
computers we already had in place that were
running Windows 7 or later, and we didn’t
have to purchase any workstation/client licenses.
This saves us a lot of money that can
be reinvested in expanding coverage zones.”
Managing System Health
Keeping all cameras up and running is a
challenge for any city. This is particularly
true in Culiacan, where criminals regularly
try to disable or remove them.
“We actually had a situation where a camera
was installed at a traffic intersection, and
by the time we got back to the command center
to connect it to the VMS, it was already
gone.” Vicon’s technical team said.
The software’s built-in health dashboard
makes it easy to keep track of the status of
all cameras, even in an installation of this
size. It also provides performance data for
all NVRs, the application server and transmission
“The monitoring dashboard helps us to
identify bottlenecks, communication issues
between cameras and NVRs and, most importantly,
how much bandwidth we are consuming,”
It also supports the city in its frequent interactions
with insurance companies.
“When a camera is taken out due to vandalism,
we can prove to the insurance carrier
that it was fully functional just prior to the
incident.” Galvez said. “This makes it possible
to get the camera replaced immediately.”
Added Value through
A statewide initiative required the ability to integrate with a wide range of software that could provide additional
layers to surveillance operations.
License plate recognition (LPR) is one example of how this has
been implemented. The city of Culiacan has more than 800 specialty
cameras connected to its LPR system, made by Spain’s Neural Labs.
License plates captured by these cameras are matched against a database
within the Neural Labs software. If a suspicious vehicle is identified,
corresponding video from surveillance cameras can be immediately
called up and shared with law enforcement officers within
the vicinity. In addition, the LPR video is stored within the Valerus
system, where it can be archived alongside surveillance video for evidence
when building a criminal case.
Integrations with other applications are also in the works. The use
of facial recognition technology is high on the city’s priority list, as
are sound sensor systems that can geo-locate the source of gun shots,
and more widespread use of panic buttons throughout the community
that can automate emergency response procedures and summon
assistance from law enforcement.
Command and Control
As the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan’s control center serves as a centralized
coordination hub for security and life safety operations at the
city, municipal and state levels. Capt. Victor Cisneros, director of C4
Command and Control Center, is head of this new, state-of-the-art
facility, which features separate spaces for the various departments,
each of which function autonomously.
Expansive video walls, recording servers and monitoring stations
provide operators with access to all cameras within their respective
domains. However, when necessary, the thin client makes it possible
to share video across departments, facilitating more collaborative and
successful response efforts.
For example, operators within the city’s equivalent of a 911
call center, although a separate division from the city police, can request
access to cameras located within the vicinity of an emergency
call, so as to share video with ambulance teams and other first responders
being sent to the scene.
With about 1,800 cameras currently in place throughout Culiacan,
combining surveillance and LPR systems, the city is well on
its way to its vision of approximately 4,800 total cameras. In addition,
work has begun in Mazatlan and Los Mochis, two other cities
in Sinaloa, which will ultimately be part of the statewide network.
“This is a very ambitious project for us,” Galvez said. “We hope to
use every function of our new system to help lower the crime rate and
better protect the citizens of Sinaloa. We understand that video isn’t
the only way we will achieve this, but it’s a very important part and
can help us bring other systems together to be more effective. We’re
excited about the possibilities.”
This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Security Today.