Traffic Cameras Pay Public Safety Dividends for Pennsylvania PD
Encompassing approximately 6.7 square miles in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania’s Delaware County, Upper Chichester Township is home to nearly 17,000 residents. The first road in the township was laid out in the 1680s to provide the horses and carts common in those days with a means of traveling in and around the area. Today, nearly 170,000 vehicles per day travel through Upper Chichester via Interstate 95 and three main state roads.
This amount of traffic in such a relatively small area has at times created challenges for the Upper Chichester Township Police Department, particularly during the morning and evening commute times when traffic is at its heaviest. Because every accident worsens traffic congestion, the department’s goal is to respond to and resolve incidents as quickly as possible. However, this isn’t always possible, especially when it becomes necessary to investigate an accident, whether because of significant property damage, injury or even fatality.
Looking to alleviate these burdens on the department and its officers, Upper Chichester made the decision to install video surveillance cameras at some of its busiest intersections. The township decided these cameras would enable faster identification of accidents and other factors affecting traffic flow, allowing officers to respond more quickly to keep vehicles moving along busy roads.
Working with Exton, Pa.-based systems integrator NextGen Security, Upper Chichester evaluated cameras from a number of manufacturers before choosing network cameras from Hanwha Techwin America, formerly Samsung Techwin. The decision was based on both the cameras’ performance and a recommendation from NextGen, a 2016 SDM Systems Integrator of the Year honoree.
The first phase of the project called for installation of 20 cameras at five intersections. For these applications, NextGen recommended 5-megapixel bullet cameras with IR capability and varifocal lenses. For video management and recording, the integrator deployed Security Center 5.3 from Genetec.
One requirement of the new video system was that cameras needed to be installed on existing traffic signal standards to keep them out of reach of the general public to prevent tampering. Along those same lines, when designing the system, NextGen needed to ensure that cameras would also be protected from dust, debris, harsh weather and other factors that could negatively impact performance and reliability.
Video from the cameras is stored locally on hardened servers at each intersection and monitored from a workstation at the police department. When necessary, video can also be accessed and retrieved directly from patrol cars by connecting to a terminal via an Internet connection. The biggest decision that had to be made, according to Eric Marks, account manager for NextGen Security, was to determine the best method for providing that Internet connection for video transmission. Nearly every company who considered the project recommended a fiber infrastructure, but the cost was simply too high for the township.
Recognizing this, NextGen determined that cellular would not only provide the reliability necessary for video transmission but would cost only one-third of a fiber or traditional wireless solution, which was exactly what the township wanted to hear.
“By thinking outside the box, it quickly became apparent that an LTE cellular solution from Cradlepoint would be ideal for transmitting video as opposed to installing fiber or point-to-point radios at a fraction of the cost, allowing the township to get the video system they wanted while staying within the limited budget they were working with,” Marks said. “At the same time, the Cradlepoint solution would maximize the uptime and reliability of the system, which is vital in any security or surveillance application.”
While the original intent of the system was to provide the police department with an overview of each intersection, it quickly became apparent that additional applications were possible. With some minor readjustments, the cameras could read and capture license plates. Given the potential cost associated with implementing a true license plate recognition system, this expanded usage delivered greater return on investment and contributed to even more savings for the township.
When the cameras went live in August, they immediately paid dividends. On the system’s first day in use, the police department received word that a suspect in a robbery in neighboring Delaware was last reported to be entering Upper Chichester. Armed with a description of the vehicle and its license plate number, officers staked out the most likely travel routes in an attempt to apprehend the suspect, while the newly installed surveillance system covered those five intersections.
“The vehicle wasn’t located by responding units, but the newly installed video surveillance system did capture the vehicle and its license plate traveling in the area,” said Christopher Jones, a detective with the Upper Chichester Township Police Department. “This information was tremendously valuable in locating the vehicle and enabling the subsequent arrest of the robbery suspect.”
Similar scenarios have played out several times since then. Each time, the video played a primary role in collaring the suspects. “Our surveillance system has helped in identifying two additional robbery suspects in separate incidents, both of whom were arrested as a direct result of the video cameras,” Jones said.
Beyond these instances, he added, the Hanwha Techwin solution has provided valuable information in more traditional traffic-related situations, including assisting in the investigation of several serious traffic incidents, one of which resulted in a fatality. Overall, the cameras have created a safer environment for Upper Chichester residents and those who are simply passing through the town.
“These cameras are helping the Upper Chichester Township Police Department improve community safety and are strengthening our efforts to deter, identify and solve crime,” Jones said.
As a result of the quality, performance and effectiveness of the system, the police department has made some changes in deployments in order to take even greater advantage of the cameras’ capabilities.
“The system has proven to be so helpful that we’ve reconfigured several intersections to allow us to monitor for more specific things we know the cameras are able to capture,” Jones added.
Because the video system has so far exceeded the police department’s expectations, there are plans to install cameras to monitor five additional intersections.
PROJECTS in the News
Boise Airport (BOI) recently overhauled its security infrastructure with Genetec Security Center, a unified security platform that combines access control, video surveillance, automatic license plate recognition (ALPR), and other third-party applications. With the help of CompuNet, an Idaho-based value-added reseller, Boise Airport has now installed Genetec Security Center to manage hundreds of cameras, access control points, and video analytics software from within a single unified interface.
After several years of using a multi-vendor security infrastructure for access control and video surveillance, Boise Airport deputy director, operations and security, Sarah Demory and her team started to look into replacing the video surveillance portion of their security system. Following an in-depth cost analysis, it soon became evident that installing an open platform unified solution for both video surveillance and access control would be more cost effective than just replacing the VMS.
“As we analyzed our needs and evaluated various technologies, it quickly became clear that a unified/condensed security system was the direction we wanted to go,” Demory said.
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IDIS and GardaWorld announced the successful installation rollout of IDIS video surveillance technology across multiple sites in the U.S. and Canada. The existing installations include more than 800 IDIS cameras and recorders, a number that will continue to grow with ongoing and planned installations in 2017.
The international installations feature customized combinations of latest generation technology from IDIS, including analog and IP networked cameras and recorders and IDIS video management software (VMS), scaled and customized across 250-plus sites. Both the larger solution and individual site installations were customized to meet specific requirements for each site.
“Whether analog or IP networked solutions, new installations or upgrades, or at urban or remote sites, IDIS solutions have proven flexible, scalable, and customizable to deliver the appropriate technology in the ideal way for each requirement,” said Guy Côté, vice president and chief security officer for GardaWorld. “We are pleased with the partnership we have created with IDIS over the past year and look forward to the continued benefit we’ll receive from current and planned installations of IDIS technology.”
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Delta Scientific announced that, in response to tragedies in Nice, France and Berlin, among others where vehicles were used as weapons against large numbers of pedestrians, Delta’s temporary vehicle barriers were erected in New Orleans’ French Quarter to restrict vehicle access to Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. The barriers helped ensure no vehicles had access to the heavily traveled walkway in their three locations as Mardi Gras participants celebrated in the Quarter. The barriers were raised each evening at 5 p.m. from Feb. 22 through Mardi Gras on Feb. 28 and lowered at 5 a.m. or earlier, depending on crowds. New Orleans plans to continue use of the portable barriers during special events in the future.
“Unfortunately, obtaining extra vehicle protection has now become a focal point since an intoxicated driver injured at least 28 people while smashing into the Krewe of Endymion parade, the largest at Mardi Gras, at one of the yet unprotected intersections on the 25th,” said Greg Hamm, Delta Scientific vice president of marketing and sales. “We must remember that just as a terrorist can use a vehicle as a weapon to harm many people quickly, the same results can be caused by an errant driver.”
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To ensure optimum fire detection in its large atrium, the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse installed four Fireray beam smoke detectors from FFE. The units were commissioned and installed by SimplexGrinnell.
“Because the atrium is so high, conventional smoke detectors were not suitable for this installation,” said FFE Managing Director Mark Osborne. “Our Fireray 5000 auto-aligning, reflective smoke detectors were selected instead as they are ideal for this kind of large interior, providing extensive coverage at minimal cost.”
One of the deciding factors in Fireray 5000 detectors being specified for this application was the low level controller feature, which means maintenance and testing can be carried out via the control room. “As the units are situated high up, physically accessing them regularly is exorbitantly expensive and impractical, so remote access is essential,” said Sharon Brown, SimplexGrinnell’s construction manager.
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Hikvision USA Inc. worked with dealer partner Screenwave Solutions to provide a new security system for Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Nevada. The Reno Ronald McDonald House welcomes families of seriously ill children who live more than 30 miles away from Reno and have a child undergoing treatment at a local hospital or clinic.
“We were glad to help,” said Art Verling, lead integrator for Screenwave Solutions. “But without Hikvision’s support Screenwave Services could not have completed this project. The RMHC staff was super impressed by the clarity of image. Once they saw it, they were knocked over. Everything is just way better than the previous system.”
With the new security system, 15 Hikvision 4MP WDR dome network cameras render high-caliber video night and day. Featuring an IR range of up to 100 feet, 4-megapixel sensors and full HD 1080p resolution at the monitor, the cameras also come with smart features, alarm control, and IK10 protection.
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Boon Edam Inc. announced that Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto succeeded in reducing wind tunnel issues within its high-volume, three-entrance public corridor into the hospital’s main entrance. Dor-Control Craftsmen Ltd. installed the revolving door entrances and oversees ongoing maintenance needs.