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FLIR Systems improves security management and response for Port Angeles police

FLIR Systems improves security management and response for Port Angeles police
Port Angeles, on the U.S.-Canada border, is a thriving port, a customs entry point into the United States and a popular tourist destination. It has a harbor deep enough to provide anchorage for large vessels, making the port a busy location itself.
Port Angeles, on the U.S.-Canada border, is a thriving port, a customs entry point into the United States and a popular tourist destination. It has a harbor deep enough to provide anchorage for large vessels, making the port a busy location itself.

Video surveillance is a powerful tool for border security and public safety, so Port Angeles officials decided to upgrade its aging analog video surveillance system to a solution that would improve surveillance in high-traffic city areas and coastline, providing higher resolution images and remote video access. Another goal was to allow police officers to stream video from any of the city’s cameras to their patrol cars, enabling more effective incident response and serve as a force-multiplier and situational awareness improvement.

“We needed a new approach to leverage our existing law enforcement resources to address current and emerging challenges,” said Brian S. Smith, Deputy Chief of Police, Port Angeles. “We knew that advanced video surveillance technologies could provide a quick return on investment.”

City officials asked for a security system recommendation from Last Mile, who had previously designed and installed a successful solution for the city of Seattle. Based in Longview, Washington, Last Mile has been servicing cities, public entities and private industries for over 17 years.

Port Angeles officials sought a scalable, open platform solution using Internet Protocol (IP) for monitoring and control, and would support surveillance products from many manufacturers. They also wanted to integrate a wireless mesh network, optimized for video applications in outdoor deployments, to stream live video to police vehicles.

Scalable IP Video Surveillance System

Last Mile designed and programmed an IP video surveillance solution consisting of the FLIR Latitude network video management system (NVMS) integrated with Bosch and Axis cameras, and a private citywide HPE/Aruba Networks wireless mesh network for public safety personnel.

Installed over three months, the video solution has empowered police to better protect the port and city. According to Smith, the surveillance is primarily used for forensic investigations following suspicious activities or emergencies, as well as for real-time containment of suspects and monitoring of certain areas.

“In terms of versatility and access, it’s a great tool,” Smith said. “Now, we have a system we can add to. It meets our needs and allows us to have more information for patrol, response and investigation. We had to show that we were increasing efficiency without creating a cost that’s beyond what we can sustain. We think this system does that.”

Video data is recorded at seven fps and stored at the command center for investigative purposes. Video is transmitted to a central command center via a robust fiber backbone ring network and utilizes the wireless mesh network to reach edge locations. The camera feeds are captured and managed by FLIR Latitude NVMS, which tracks incoming activity, provides a streamlined video interface and alerts officers to key events.

Streaming Live Video

Port Angeles officials were impressed by the FLIR VMS innovative mobile video push app, TruWitness, which extends video surveillance beyond the point of fixed cameras and allows real-time mobile device video to be viewed and recorded as additional cameras in the Latitude NVMS system. In fact, TruWitness was a key reason why they selected FLIR for the project.

“At the time, not a single company in the VMS sector was doing that,” said Keith Young, Senior Sales Engineer at Last Mile. “The TruWitness app is what pushed Port Angeles over the top where they said, ‘we to have to have that.’”

FLIR’s mobile client software enables police officers to stream live video to their squad cars. Police patrols are able to use their smart devices to stream, record, analyze, review and export live video from any location, enhancing rapid response and mission critical decision-making.

“We are now able to better monitor and track suspicious vehicles and passengers unloading from the ferries,” Smith said. We are also monitoring the coastline, and can dispatch police officers to send live video from any remote location.”

The video streaming is done through either the cellular network or private wireless mesh network, and the system allows officers to move seamlessly between the two.

“We have a very unique system here that uses In-Motion router boxes, which are in our patrol cars,” Smith said. “It decides what is the best signal—Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G—and toggles back and forth [as police move throughout the city]. Most of the time, we’re streaming the mobile application through Wi-Fi.”

One of the advantages of using the private Wi-Fi is that it ensures reliable and efficient communication at all times. When natural disasters, riots, sports or other large events take place, the public are on their phones, streaming video, updating social media, making emergency phone calls, overloading the cellular networks. In those instances, police officers’ cell phones become useless and they have to rely on limited two-way radios. Private Wi-Fi networks eliminate this issue.

“If you have your own private wireless, you can still utilize team coordination and case management apps, photo sharing, Wi-Fi calling, and the TruWitness capability,” Young said. “When everything else goes down, law enforcement and first responders are still able to communicate at the same level.”

Video surveillance initiatives are a top priority for Port Angeles. The current system has proven useful on several occasions to help police solve crimes and grants will fund projects to enhance security at parks, transportation networks and correctional facilities. The city plans to increase the number of cameras throughout the region and add video analytics to further bolster the system’s capabilities.

“We knew the success of the first phase would lead to the deployment of more cameras, so we chose a solution that could be easily and economically expanded over time,” Smith said. “FLIR delivers the technology that meets our current and future needs, while providing a streamlined user experience and maximum flexibility.”

For more information, please visit FLIR here.

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