Smart Cities: Canadian City Implements Smart City Integrations for Greater Situational Awareness
Global systems integrator Convergint Technologies began working with the City of Calgary more than 15 years ago and the company was there when the city implemented its first video management system (VMS) and card access system. The integrator and partner was also there more recently when Calgary city managers decided it was time to upgrade their VMS and integrate it with other systems across the city infrastructure.
“We really try to take a consultative approach to working with the city,” Mark Sheahan, sales manager at Convergint told SDM. “We help by researching new products and talking with vendors to help them test drive products before they purchase something.”
As Canada’s third-largest municipality with a population of nearly 1.2 million, Calgary is the largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta. The city has been ranked high in livability and some of that can be attributed to the fact that technology plays an integral part within Calgary City management.
A few years ago, city management decided to replace and upgrade their legacy video management system (VMS). At the time, Calgary had about 1,800 cameras in use, with 300 network video recorders (NVRs) spread throughout the city.
“Our previous system wasn’t meeting our needs in terms of connecting to centralized security operations, viewing all the video and performing investigations,” said Alex Lee, City of Calgary security advisor of technical operations. Lee said that Calgary’s corporate security business unit needed a surveillance system that would allow staff to be more proactive in dealing with incidents around the city.
To cover the expansive, multi-acre areas involved, the team standardized on a mix of IP cameras from Axis Communications, including high-resolution cameras, multi-sensor cameras, pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) systems and thermal imaging cameras.
The most critical feature Calgary was looking for was open architecture interoperability and the ability to integrate with multiple systems.
Working together, Calgary city managers and Convergint Technologies’ Calgary team implemented Milestone Technology’s open platform XProtect Corporate video management system.
“Calgary needed an open platform where any camera or device could be installed, and where we can integrate with other data systems,” Sheahan said.
For the first phase of the VMS deployment, the city installed the system to cover public utility facilities, recreation facilities, electrical substations, parks, critical infrastructure sites and operational work centers, which includes storage lots. Sheahan told SDM that the first phase of integration was done in a way so that little to no interruptions in surveillance occurred.
Since then, the City of Calgary has begun integrating Live Earth, an Internet of Things (IoT) visualization platform that allows users to synchronize data from multiple sources and combine live data feeds into an interactive map. The Live Earth solution contains a variety of real-time, Graphic Information System overlays that update automatically, empowering managers to understand scenarios quickly. A deeper integration with the city’s Lenel OnGuard access control system — covering some 3,600 readers throughout Calgary — is also in the works.
As Calgary continues to look for ways to integrate all of its data together and improve its security, the new infrastructure it has in place will allow the city to grow with its own needs. “All our partners at Milestone and Convergint have been great to work with,” Lee said. “We’ve done so much together already, but we still have a long list of things we want to accomplish. We look forward to continuing to deepen our system’s capabilities to provide better services for the City of Calgary for many years to come.”