City administrators, technology vendors, transit security professionals and law enforcement officials from across the nation gathered last week at the Secured Cities conference in Chicago, Ill., to network with peers and learn about the latest trends impacting municipal surveillance projects.
Cities need to have all key stakeholders (police, fire/EMS, city government, Homeland Security, transit, utilities) at the same table if they want to provide an effective security or safety response to any situation affecting their citizens. Increasingly, cities are inclined to make federated security technology, equipment and training investments, such that resources can be shared across agencies and departments.
David Stolerow with HOH Systems Inc., the architect of record for Metra’s CCTV upgrade, presented on “Designing Video Surveillance for Mass Transit Security,” detailing some of the strategies on how they updated this system.
The project would include 1,358 cameras across seven locations, more than 350,000 feet of conduit, more than 145,000 feet of fiber cabling, nine consoles for viewing stations and it would all culminate in 99 drawings for this massive electrical project funded by a multiple-year grant through the Department of Homeland Security.
The first thing to be done was to assess where they were at and to know the objectives. The police wanted to have facial recognition and no delays. They created a wish list and talked about what could and could not be done and looked at what was existing and how the new system would connect.
You need to start with a basic design Stolerow said, so they conceptualized the design and looked at the network.
Next was teaching the customer. At the time they first looked at new cameras, about six years ago, they didn’t know if they wanted to go with analog or IP because at that time, IP still had a way to go.
Stolerow said they brought in major camera manufacturers and they each presented where IP cameras are at today. He said utilizing the vendors makes the vendors aware of the project and it helps the client understand the technology.
They brought in various video management systems, as well. The city has Genetec and DHS and the city require the cameras to feed into the city.
When the police played with the Genetec system, they could do everything without any training because it’s similar to how SNS worked. This would require minimal training time.
How to pick the camera? It’s a harsh environment with tunnels, harsh light and vandalism. Every camera on the platform was treated as an external camera, with heaters and blowers.
With the basic concept established, it was time to start design drawings. (This was about three months into the project.)
Cameras are 30 to 50 feet apart on platforms – both sides, both directions. They wanted the cameras to detect baggage set down, but in the transit environment, that would be triggered all the time. Instead, they went with every square inch of floor space covered so they could see everything.
Cameras chosen were 1080P and were placed at each entrance and exit so facial recognition could be utilized later; the system won’t be quickly antiquated.
Stolerow said that more than 100 Terabytes of storage is needed per day and Metra has a 30-day requirement. They are also considering a 90-day requirement. The system has redundancy built in everywhere, as that was important for Metra.
The analytics will actively monitor the public space and provide active alarms for anomalies. For example, the first time someone climbs a ladder changes a light bulb, Stolerow said, it will trigger an alarm. The user can say to ignore that. He said it takes six to nine months to train it with false alarms.
They put eight cameras as a test for nine months and two examples of anomalies it picked up were kids leaning over a ledge, over the tracks and a package someone left under a bench when they stepped more than 10 feet away to go purchase their ticket.