As interest grows, Salt Lake City suburb expanding wireless network for public safety, public works, public utilities, transportation services
When a 9-year-old girl was reported missing in Sandy, Utah — a Salt Lake City suburb in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains — the Sandy Police Department (SPD) was able to use the department's new state-of-the-art wireless mesh video surveillance network to track her path. The system allowed the department to survey a vast portion of the city which narrowed the search area and decreased the time it took to locate the girl and return her to her family. The surveillance system, which was deployed by Salt Lake City's AlphaCorp Security using Firetide wireless infrastructure mesh equipment, was initially installed by the SPD to monitor the town's main State Street corridor, parks and business districts. Because the wireless network has been a resounding success for the community's public safety goals, the network is building upon the interest from other municipal groups as they realize its value.
“As other departments in City Hall have seen the success we are having with the wireless network, more and more are jumping on board. The beauty of the Firetide wireless infrastructure implemented by Alpha Corp Security is its versatility and flexibility, so it can be used in so many different ways,” said Sandy Police Chief Stephen Chapman. “Furthermore, the wireless network is about 1/10 of the cost of a fiber network infrastructure.”
Last spring, the SPD began installing the network, covering the State Street corridor, parking lots, and several parks and gradually expanding the network out, east and west, using grants and the police department's budget. The police have monitored traffic along the corridor to see what causes accidents as well as to help identify perpetrators leaving the city. In addition, they have been able to apprehend vehicle burglars, under age drinkers, and petty thieves. As other city departments have seen the success of the network, many have come in with additional funds for growing the network and for new applications.
“The public works department now uses the network to monitor the streets and parks so they know when to call in the snow plows during the winter. Public utilities are using the network for video surveillance of a couple of their water tanks. The Utah Transit Authority has plans to tie into the SPD network to monitor the TRAX light rail system that runs parallel to State Street and interest in the network continues to climb,” said Captain Kevin Thacker who oversees the video surveillance network at SPD.
To date, 16 sites or about 25 percent of the 22 square mile city has been covered using 25 Firetide mesh nodes and a BridgeWave point-to-point link connecting 21 Panasonic outdoor dome pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) and fixed cameras, a ten terabyte storage area network and a server running OnSSI video management software. Because of a ridge in the northern part of Sandy that is 1,000 feet higher than the adjacent Wasatch Valley, obstruction from summer foliage, and severe winter weather, the SPD was initially concerned about how well the network would perform. “The network has performed exceptionally well,” said Chief Chapman. “In fact, that the network has not been affected by the winter weather here has been one of its selling points to other departments.”
“We chose Firetide because their wireless infrastructure mesh has proven to be the most reliable solution for video surveillance and is easily expandable to accommodate new applications and groups of users,” said Seth Ferrier, Account Manager, AlphaCorp Security. “We were also impressed with the quality of video feeds the network could provide given the city's Wasatch mountain range and valley environment.”
Video feeds are stored at the server in City Hall for further review and investigation, if needed. One dozen volunteers for the mobile watch patrol have been sworn in and trained on the system and now monitor the cameras from an undisclosed site in the Valley. With the West End pretty much covered, the plan is to continue moving East to monitor an additional three or four main roads and local businesses. In addition, four more utilities sites are being covered. The SPD and other municipal departments hope to eventually cover the whole city.
“We are seeing the trend for cities to expand their public safety wireless network with the use of additional municipal applications and funds,” said Bo Larsson, CEO of Firetide. “We are glad that the city of Sandy is able to address their varied needs for municipal services with a single cost-effective and reliable Firetide wireless infrastructure mesh network. Sandy serves as an example to other municipalities, both large and small, on how to leverage wireless infrastructure to benefit multiple municipal departments and the public.”