For law enforcement officers to operate surveillance systems, the functions and interfaces must be user-friendly, and IT/IP expertise should not be required. IT-related issues such as first-time installation and system configuration are completed by the installer. Emphasis should be on the next stage — providing intensive and extensive training to the law enforcement community to execute functions correctly for maximum effect. “The training is meant for assisting law enforcement personnel to learn how to use the functions to develop intelligence,” Beldock said. Analyzing the information gathered from a reliable surveillance system will facilitate precise response.
On the other hand, IT/IP expertise would be required of the installers and/or system integrators. The performance of an integrated security installation depends on the stability and bandwidth of the IT infrastructure. The concept of open interfaces and independence of IT systems is a key element to make the technology reusable and transferable to other facilities, Schrimpf said. “This guarantees that the solution is open for expansion and can be implemented in a different environment on another IT backbone.”
One of the foremost requests from the law enforcement community is that camera housings and all setups must be vandal-proof to prevent inmates from turning the equipment into a weapon or destroying the equipment/ evidence. “Anything you do has to be extra heavy-duty,” explained Tom Sansone, President of T&R Alarm. “Unlike the public sector where you would use fail-safe locks on different things for fire code issues, in a prison setting, it's fail-secure, and one would need to perform a manual override to get through the door,” Sansone said.
Another common request is to have corner-mounted housings for placing cameras in the holding cells. “This disallows inmates the opportunity to tie an object around the housing and hang themselves,” Tennyson explained.
Procurement representatives from law enforcement institutions often have a solid idea of the items the institution needs. “Law enforcement agencies have become more discerning and informed,” said Terence Lee, Regional Director for APAC System Integration Business, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies. “Many of them also participate in regional exchange with their counterparts from other countries. As such, they have become more astute and cost-conscious.”
Product details and applications are presented and explained by solution providers or integrators working with the procurement representatives to produce a custom-made and suitable solution that addresses all needs. “Law enforcement communities care about the ability of a solution to deliver concrete evidence, capture evidence of forensic value, and assist with immediate armed response,” Beldock said.
Law enforcement institutions often test out products prior to securing a purchase. “In our experience, law enforcement agencies know what is available on the market and shortlist the most capable systems for assessment,” said David Rees, Regional Manager for APAC, Salto Systems. “Products are then rigorously tested in a real-world environment to best evaluate the capabilities and reliability of the product to best match a system to the particular specifications or requirements.” If the feedback was negative, the deal would often be scratched.
System failure, even for a couple of minutes, poses great threat to all. “With up to 2,000 prisoners annually in our holding cells, it is critical that our surveillance system stays up and running all the time. It simply cannot go down,” said Shannon Postma, Information Systems Technician at the Chatham-Kent Police Services from Ontario, Canada.
In recent years in the U.S., there have been substantial cuts in local government funding, but an increase in federal spending. “Many municipalities utilize federal grants, instead, to advance or develop programs,” Tennyson said.
An example would be the City of Joliet Police Department of Illinois applying for a grant directly from the federal government to upgrade the existing system. “In our grant application, we proposed using IP-based video surveillance for real-time monitoring and visibility into the riverfront area, and to provide access to the video feeds to other government agencies and businesses,” said Jeremy DeVivo, MIS Manager and Network Administrator for the City of Joliet Police Department. The department received a grant that covered 75 percent of the total budget for the project.
In the U.K. impending public-sector cuts will inevitably affect budgets, and thus the ability of law enforcement agencies to implement upgrades to building security systems, Rees added. Nick Herbert, the UK Minister of State for Policing and Criminal Justice, agreed in an Aug. 2 online discussion that the current lengthy and complex procurement processes should be simplified, and explained that proposals have already been made to encourage police forces to collaborate on national procurement of electronic equipment, where by avoiding 43 forces doing individual purchases, cost can be saved. However, reduced budget does not equal an increase in crime rate, Herbert added. The Spending Review published in late October by the treasury department proposes that police spending be cut by an annual rate of 4 percent until 2014 to 2015. In this sense, the cuts will push the law enforcement community to buy smart and utilize equipment functions to their fullest.
Yet, funding deduction is not a universal phenomenon. “We did not experience any specific impact on the behavior of law enforcement agencies,” Schrimpf observed. “It seems that the need for law enforcement is independent from economy.”
Beldock believes that the availability of funding on the international level is made possible by a rising awareness of the importance of surveillance and effective monitoring.
Better City, Better World
A total solution provided for the law enforcement community is not unlike a solution provided for other settings. In recent years, many institutions assessed the available products on the market before upgrading existing systems to even more complete and advanced monitoring and management tools. High-quality video footage, strictly enforced access control and 24/7 safety measures have all become basic requirements for security installations within a law enforcement institution. By offering a customized solution with a good balance of capability and price, security solution providers have the opportunity to take part in assisting law enforcement bodies to better safeguard a city.
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