Editor’s Note: Setting up a city-wide surveillance program is a lot of work. But it can reap a lot of rewards if done correctly. Following are five considerations by one of the best in
the business, Bob Keyes.
No. 1—Define Your Objective
What exactly are you trying to achieve with your system? Will you be using the system to provide enhanced security in a high-crime area or perhaps for disturbances at your downtown bars? Will it be used as a response tool so that responding officers know in advance what’s occurring? If so, who will be monitoring the cameras?
Do you want video analytics, window blanking (i.e. automated obscurement of apartment or office windows to avoid problems) or do you want it to integrate with other surveillance technologies, such as license plate or gunshot recognition? Do you want your system to integrate with your CAD? How long to you want to keep the recorded video and what quality do you want—4CIF 30 FPS, 720P 30 FPS? Or is lesser quality acceptable for your purposes? By this point, you can see there’s some depth to this question and it takes a proper assessment to make sure you end up with an end product that meets your needs.
No. 2—Find an Existing Model
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Find another agency using a system that mirrors what you’re trying to accomplish and copy it. Give careful consideration to who’s going to oversee the effort. If it’s not done in-house, the selection of an integrator is critical. Although there are a lot of great integrators, there are just as many bad ones. Consider too that what works elsewhere might not work in your local area—so investigate carefully.
No. 3—How Do You Get the Video Back?
If you want high-quality video because of bandwidth issues, your options can get expensive. If a fiber optic cable is available, it’s most often the best option. If installation of fiber will be required, it can become very, very expensive. If a fiber optic cable isn’t available, there are a variety of wireless technologies options that transport video very well. Conventional cellular, now with 4G, has become viable and is more attractive now than in the past.
No. 4—System Design & Camera Placement
Environmental factors are huge: What can be seen throughout the day changes with inclement weather, reflection of light during sunrises, sunsets and nighttime, or with a passing vehicle’s headlight.
Ensure that the system design you’re acquiring is proven technology. Try to have an independent, stand-alone video network. Cutting edge is acceptable, but bleeding edge is not. Be careful when you make your selection.
No. 5—Look for Partners
You’ll find many willing partners if you have a well-thought-out system. Even in this economy, private businesses will want to participate if approached properly. Schools, city departments and other governmental agencies will often collaborate and contribute funds if asked.