Firetide Wireless Video Surveillance System Cracks down on Crimes in Pennsylvania

Firetide Wireless Video Surveillance System Cracks down on Crimes in Pennsylvania
Muggings, home break-ins, armed robberies, drug deals and even medical emergencies have been caught on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania's police department's wireless video surveillance system since it was first deployed in September 2009 and has dramatically helped improve the city's safety. Police have identified criminals, recovered stolen cars, busted drug dealers and users, cracked long-standing investigations and saved at least one person during a medical emergency. The system, deployed by Let's Think Wireless, uses Firetide's wireless infrastructure mesh equipment and Bosch PTZ cameras that are monitored in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week by police officials.

“Not even two years since the first wireless system was deployed and, to our surprise, we have had so many successes,” said Stuart Bedics, Bethlehem police Commissioner. “The wireless mesh network gives us coverage and access to areas where we don't have a police presence. It also provides us extra set of eyes to back up police when they are citing violations or conducting an investigation.”

Bethlehem PD chose the wireless infrastructure mesh system over a fiber-based one because it is less costly and gives them the flexibility to move and place cameras as needed. 50 surveillance cameras connected to 48 Firetide nodes have been placed in parks, high-crime areas and on the three bridges of the city. In addition, the wireless network has been integrated with Lehigh University's 13-camera wired video surveillance system extending the police's view into the campus. The primary viewing station is the 911 dispatch center where one of five dispatchers monitors the cameras 24/7. The watch commander, vice and narcotic officers, commissioner and Lehigh University officials also have access to the camera feeds. In addition, in one of Bethlehem's parks, the dispatchers are aided by Object Video's analytics software to protect a children's water park and public pool. The analytics software works in conjunction with two cameras to detect people entering the facility after hours and alert the PD.

“We chose to partner with Firetide because they have the best and proven wireless mesh infrastructure for video. The flexibility, performance and advanced features of their infrastructure are outstanding for sending and receiving video from multiple places all at once,” said Mickey Branson, Senior Director of National Sales, Let's Think Wireless.

The network has mushroomed from a pilot in two Elm Street parks in September 2009 to the 50-camera wireless network in high-crime areas in the South Side, in the new community art center and the multiple parks of the annual Musikfest site, among other locations. Funding comes from a combination of City of Bethlehem's budget and local sponsors such as the Elm Street Association, the Lehigh Transportation Authority for its parking garages and the non-profit agency of the Musikfest.

While most of the success stories are real-time apprehensions of criminals by police alerted to an incident by a 911 dispatcher, many are also after-the-fact apprehensions coming from reviewing video recordings that are stored for up to 30 days. For example, one recording helped police identify a car thief when in review the video showed the suspect parking the stolen car.

“Bethlehem is an example of the performance and flexibility of a video surveillance system required by law enforcement. The project also shows that public safety video surveillance is an excellent investment, especially in today's environment of strained municipal budgets,” said Bo Larsson, CEO of Firetide. “Wireless speeds projects and reduces infrastructure costs, especially in city environments where it would be cost prohibitive and disruptive to dig up sidewalks and close streets for construction. Reliable “eyes in the sky” needed to ensure public safety and protect first responders are now possible with wireless infrastructure mesh.”

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