A security system provided by Hikvision USA Inc. was installed by TAS Electronics of Yorkville, N.Y. to upgrade the Armadillo, a repurposed Brink’s armored truck used by the Utica Police Department (UPD).

The Armadillo is deployed as a crime deterrent to specific locations based on community complaints, primarily for quality of life issues. It is also used as a deterrent to violent crime, especially involving gun violence, in locations where shots have been fired or where gun violence is likely to occur based on historical data and actionable police information.

But when the UPD’s Armadillo was damaged in 2015, the surveillance system stopped working and the entire vehicle was taken out of commission. Once UPD received budget approvals for upgrades and repairs, they sought out the security expertise of Hikvision integrator TAS Electronics to provide a tailored surveillance system.

“When the decision was made to upgrade the Armadillo the immediate concern was the camera system, because it is the lifeblood of any high quality digital video recording network,” said Edward Noonan, deputy chief of police for the UPD. “Knowing this, we demanded the best equipment available. Hikvision and TAS Electronics provided us with high resolution cameras that have the ability to see in the dark, and we can control these cameras remotely through an app on our smartphones with remarkably high resolution.”

TAS Electronics excels at challenging projects that require innovative solutions. “No manufacturer has a surveillance kit designed for an armored vehicle,” said Tom Sheehy, system engineer principal at TAS. “We developed a custom solution to meet the unique application for our client using Hikvision technology.”

For the upgrade, UPD had very clear expectations of the security system needed for the Armadillo. Criteria for the new surveillance system included the ability to store and recover video footage for up to 65 days, extended battery life enabling deployment of the Armadillo for up to seven days with continuous video surveillance, and live streamed video footage to the Mohawk Valley Crime Analysis Center. UPD also wanted mobile access so command staff could view video footage on their smartphones.

Tackling this project was “a daunting task,” Sheehy said, “because we looked at what had not worked with the original surveillance system and had to create a plan to avoid similar issues in the future.”

The UPD was adamant about using pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras because individuals are unable to determine exactly where the PTZ is pointed. Sheehy recommended a mix of turret and PTZ models for the project including fixed-mount digital cameras and PTZ digital cameras, connected with a 32-channel Hikvision NVR, providing 360-degree panoramic coverage in the area surrounding the vehicle. 

“Members of the Utica Police Department have the ability to stream the surveillance footage directly to their smartphones for around-the-clock monitoring using the Hikvision iVMS-4200 app,” Noonan said. “The improved video storage capacity using the Hikvision NVR greatly improves the investigative usefulness of the vehicle. Many times complaints from the public are reported long after the crime actually occurred. Investigating officers now have the ability to go back nearly two months to pull and review surveillance footage, and that can often be key to a successful criminal case.”

A total of six Hikvision network turret cameras were installed, one on each corner of the vehicle and two centered in the middle. This camera features 120db WDR, high performance EXIR LED for better illumination than traditional IR, and IR range up to 100 feet. Two Hikvision outdoor network PTZ dome cameras with 20 times optical zoom plus IP66 and IK10 vandal protection were installed to capture rear and front views from the vehicle. This camera model is equipped with smart detection including line crossing and intrusion detection, which UPD may use in the future, particularly to warn them if someone gets too close to the vehicle. 

The Armadillo was originally a Brink’s armored truck, constructed with hardened steel and bulletproof windows. “First we had to determine if we could screw through the roof because it’s armored,” Sheehy said. “We were able to do that, but it took us a while using carbide bits.”

To install the Hikvision equipment, TAS had to secure the cameras using custom-made camera mounts that were welded to the roof. TAS inserted metal conduits down through the roof, connecting to the Hikvision box inside the vehicle. TAS equipped the vehicle with a commercial-grade wireless radio that provides broadband to the Hikvision NVR, allowing the UPD to communicate with it remotely.

Video is live streamed to the Mohawk Valley Crime Analysis Center where footage is monitored 24/7. The Hikvision iVMS app allows the staff to view video footage from their smartphones. 

The integrator’s expertise and willingness to create an innovative solution to meet the UPD’s requirements for Armadillo security resulted in an application that provides high resolution images, live streaming and remote viewing capability, and improved crime monitoring and deterrence in local communities.