NY law enforcement keeps watch on 2012 presidential debate with smarts

 NY law enforcement keeps watch on 2012 presidential debate with smarts

In the weeks leading up to the town hall-style debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney in 2012, a security team consisting of Secret Service, NY state and Nassau County police were busy installing systems to ensure the safety of the candidates and attendees. Nassau County Police Department turned to system integrator EIA for the implementation of a temporary security surveillance monitoring solution that integrates 46 surveillance cameras with Milestone VMS at the 600-acre Hofstra University campus.

Secret Service, Nassau County Police Department and Hofstra University security personnel had less than one month to complete a rapid deployment throughout the campus and surrounding areas of the university to prepare for the second of three presidential debates in the 2012 election.

The Nassau County Police Department deployed Sony 29 HD domes, and 19 bullet cameras with IR illuminators, an Arecont 20-megapixel panoramic network camera and a Direct Insight Node camera to cover all angles surrounding the presidential debate stage, the roads leading up to Hofstra, the buildings on campus and the crowds outside the event location. There was no limit on camera location: they were installed on bridges, telephone poles, light poles, along the Hempstead Turnpike - everywhere. Even a helicopter flying over the event was equipped with a HD camera to provide another view of the surroundings.

EIA helped connect the entire system through a combination of wireless systems and the existing fiber networks throughout the university and broadband services from Verizon. Each building on the Hofstra campus has its own IT network, but is controlled by the university's parent network. To build the elaborate security network, the cameras of the event's temporary security system were fed through the already installed parent IT network points. Through a Firetide wireless mesh system and failover network, all of the buildings and associated cameras were available to the police through secure firewall access.

With Milestone VMS, multiple mobile viewing stations could be connected to 46 camera feeds before, during and after the Presidential Debate. The entire operation was headquartered in a security operations center, with multiple mobile command centers strategically placed outside the Nassau Coliseum and in a fallback zone off campus. This provided authorized security and law enforcement personnel clear and detailed views of the crowds and Hofstra University surrounding areas including campus roadways, buildings, faces in the crowd and the presidential candidates themselves that could be accessed remotely.The Milestone solution connected the cameras through Wi-Fi over one network, so each command center and mobile user was able to view any or all cameras as needed.

"There were so many things going on–the helicopter in the sky recording a super HD broadcast-quality video, being pushed down through a very expensive camera, then recording it in Milestone, which presented a finished product seen in six, seven or eight viewing stations,”said Glenn Taylor, Senior VP Sales, EIA “We were able to serve it to anyone who was involved."

Mobile carts were constructed and rolled into the event a day in advance. The police utilized Milestone's mobile VMS for numerous officers to use from their smartphones. Plain-clothed officers monitored the crowds from within using access to the surveillance and to be seen in the command centers. The police fed HD video back through their smartphones with the Milestone screen recorder.

A few minor incidents were monitored during the event, which did not pose a direct physical threat to the President and governor, but resulted in actionable arrests. One protest group was streaming live feed to its website from campus. That group was linked to a watch list for the debate and the police monitored the live feed in the command center. Using VMS, they could view multiple angles and find what they needed by comparing the feeds.

Another situation included the Green Party Candidate, who was removed for protesting at the debate and heading a group that blocked streets and sidewalks. The command center was able to monitor that protest and make the appropriate call when it became a disturbance.

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