IP video surveillance cameras from Axis Communications played a major role in keeping the space shuttle Endeavour secure during its 12-mile final journey through the streets of Los Angeles to its new home. Photo courtesy of California Science Center


After logging nearly 123 million miles in flight, the space shuttle Endeavour traveled 12 miles on the ground through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center (CSC) over the weekend, arriving mid-afternoon on Sunday, quite a bit later than planned. But trees — not security — were behind the delay, thanks in large part to IP video surveillance cameras from Axis Communications, Chelmsford, Mass.

During this historic and unprecedented transport of the space shuttle, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) relied on Axis cameras, which transmitted over a unique wireless mesh network to safeguard the downtown route and protect NASA’s national treasure with enhanced, HDTV-quality situational awareness.

On Friday, Endeavour embarked on the “Mission 26: The Big Endeavour”road-trip to retirement, a planned two-day, 2 mph journey from Los Angeles International Airport across the 405 Freeway and through the streets of L.A. to the CSC, where it will be on display starting October 30.

During the journey, thousands of residents, space shuttle enthusiasts and others turned out to watch Endeavour’s final trip from private lawns, inside businesses and along streets. They also attended special viewing celebrations throughout the city, including at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood on Saturday and then later that day near the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping mall.

The primary challenge in securing an event of this magnitude was that many of the security needs from a technology perspective were mobile and temporary. To cover the expansive 12-mile route in a cost-effective way, the LAPD constructed a wireless mesh network on the fly and deployed HDTV-quality pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) Axis IP surveillance cameras using a “leap-frog” approach: As the shuttle passed beyond the first camera’s field of view, it was uninstalled and then reinstalled at the front of the surveillance network, continuing the chain.

See demo videoof Axis’ HDTV PTZ in action.

“Crowd and traffic control around major events bring about unique challenges, especially when it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event like this,” Michael Downing, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and commanding officer of LAPD’s Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, said before the trek began last week. “Relying on Axis’ surveillance technology as we’ve done for many of the city’s biggest events removes typical IT and surveillance obstacles often present with critical yet impromptu security applications. With these worries eliminated, we can focus on our job: making sure the spectators remain safe with minimal disruption to the city and shuttle.”

The LAPD monitored Endeavour’s journey, the crowds and general activity using 720p HDTV quality AXIS P5534-E PTZDome Network Cameras and 1080p HDTV-quality AXIS Q6035-E PTZDome Network Cameras. These IP cameras are easy to install with outdoor-ready housings and configured seamlessly with the LAPD’s wireless mesh network powered by Cobhamtechnology. Additionally, the automatic day/night functionality of the AXIS P55 and AXIS Q60 Series cameras enabled the LAPD to monitor the 48-hour journey in crisp detail even at night.

For the wireless mesh network, the rooftop of a 54-story L.A. skyscraper served as a relay site between the Axis cameras and radio nodes throughout the route. This allowed video footage to flow freely to the LAPD central command post as well as mobile devices in the field despite the large physical distances from point-to-point. All live viewing and video archiving of the Mission 26 event was done using Milestone XProtect Professional video management software(VMS), a comprehensive open platform VMS that is ideal for live monitoring with efficient search tools to manage, locate and export video evidence.

The police department has used similar technology to monitor several high-profile events in Los Angeles, including the Academy Awards, L.A. Lakers and Kings victory parades and other large city gatherings.

“This leap-frog style, on-the-fly mesh network build-out is such a unique surveillance installation. It proves once again that the LAPD’s counter-terrorism and special operations bureau is at the forefront of using technology to protect the city’s people and assets,” said Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, Axis Communications Inc. “IP video surveillance opens the doors to a world of innovative surveillance opportunities, and we’re honored to be working with the LAPD to secure this historic journey of a true national treasure.”