Security and safety in the City of Atlanta has been massively enhanced thanks to the adoption of CNL’s IPSecurityCenter.
The City of Atlanta boasts a population of over 420,000 and serves as the cultural and economic centre of the Atlanta metropolitan area (which itself is home to more than five million people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States).
In addition, Atlanta is one of the United States’ leading tourist destinations both for American residents and those visiting the US from abroad. Indeed, in 2010 the city was the seventh most visited in the United States with over 35 million tourists.
The City of Atlanta
Ensuring the safety and security of all citizens and visitors is key to the success and progress of any city. This is particularly true for Atlanta, one of the most multi-cultural cities in the US which attracts investment from across the globe.
As is the case with any large city, Atlanta is becoming more reliant on the use of visual intelligence to enable improved situational awareness which helps to identify and resolve security incidents faster and more incisively.
Over the years, the City of Atlanta has invested in a number of surveillance systems to provide law enforcement and other public safety professionals with visual intelligence well before the point at which first responders arrive on scene.
Recently, managers upgraded aging analogue cameras to digital models and moved from leased line to wireless backhaul. Historically, the systems had all operated independently and had been located across a wide geography.
The City of Atlanta Control Room
Operation Shield: collaborating on public safety
Government agencies across the US are working hard to increase collaboration on public safety efforts aimed at achieving better efficiencies and effectiveness when it comes to leveraging public security assets.
One of the most cost-effective methods designed to increase the amount and quality of intelligence available to Government agencies is the deployment of a centralised camera integration centre.
Back in 2007, Atlanta approached this challenge by launching Operation Shield through the Atlanta Security Council. Operation Shield is a three-pronged security program designed to leverage existing infrastructure (cameras and radio communications) through engaging the private sector and various Government agencies.
The most recent development in Operation Shield has been the establishment of a centralised Video Integration Centre (VIC) by the City of Atlanta Police Department. The VIC is a rapidly-developing surveillance network which provides 24/7 real-time crime prevention, emergency preparedness and heightened response capability throughout the city.
Detail of the Metro system
Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation, commented: “The Atlanta Police Department has a plan in place to use technology in its mission to reduce crime. Atlanta has launched Operation Shield which will not only leverage cameras but also data and video analytics to better fight crime, in turn bringing crime numbers down even lower than their 30-year low of today.”
Operation Shield’s three-pronged success formula includes: video integration, COMNET (a radio network for private security to communicate with APD in real time) and text alerts. This is enabling VIC stakeholders to effectively bridge communication gaps between the Atlanta Police Department, participating agencies and entities and the city’s business community.
A ‘Next Generation’ Solution
Grant Hawkins, the vice-president of programs and strategic projects at the Atlanta Police Foundation, explained: “The Operation Shield team visited numerous cities throughout the United States and was able to note Best Practice and lessons learned while also seeing the latest technology in action. This research and planning gave Operation Shield’s leadership the tools and knowledge to design and build a system that brings together key aspects of the best video integration projects from around the United States to the Atlanta Police Department with ‘Best in Class’ tools and technologies to reduce crime and respond to emergency situations.”
To protect citizens, commerce and infrastructure, the city’s managers needed to be confident that the tools and technologies selected had been proven within the Safe City framework. They selected CNL Software’s IPSecurityCenter as the command and control platform as it had already been deployed in some the largest and most complex Safe City projects in the world.
IPSecurityCenter works by connecting the diverse range of systems into the operating platform, ensuring operators do not need to learn the underlying technology and allowing them to focus on the situations that are occurring.
The system has given the Atlanta Police Department the capability to integrate public and private video systems into an integrated suite of emergency dispatch applications, subsequently allowing call takers and dispatchers to manage incident information more efficiently.
Public/private sector partnerships
The Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Police Foundation have accomplished their vision to develop one of the United States’ strongest public-private sector partnerships.
Atlanta is becoming the model city for public/private sector partnerships providing significant benefits to the citizens and visitors of the area. City leadership has leveraged the partnerships to deliver a sound foundation for Operation Shield and is poised to expand its current state to become the standard for Safe City projects across the nation.
In addition to providing funding and competencies, the Atlanta Police Foundation has been instrumental in facilitating the resolution of one of the biggest challenges faced when establishing the Video Integration Center: addressing the size and scale of the integration which is driven by the disparate and legacy nature of video systems across the city, other governmental entities and the private sector.
By way of IPSecurityCenter, cameras owned by organisations using proprietary technologies can be targeted for integration. For example, the City’s Metro Atlanta Rail and Transit Authority (MARTA) operates more than 1,300 cameras which were previously only accessible in the MARTA Command Centre. Likewise, Hartsfield Jackson International Airport (the world’s busiest airport) had its own proprietary camera systems which will also be connected to the Video Integration Centre.
Similarly, and as is typical across the nation, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) spent millions of dollars deploying a statewide camera system which only fed information into the GDOT Traffic Control Center. The City of Atlanta is also home to two of the State’s largest universities and seven colleges, each with their own security systems.
As part of their vision, the city’s managers also wanted to integrate a large number of private cameras from sources including the CNN Center and Coca-Cola as well as Publix Supermarkets and the sizeable number of Fortune 500 companies located in the City – further increasing the complexity of bringing all of these systems into one common platform.
Increased situational awareness to the forefront
Once connected to the IPSecurityCenter platform, a common set of controls will be available for all video sources enabling operators to seamlessly move from a camera located on a downtown street to one located in a shopping mall to one located in a bus station. Operators can observe incidents as they unfold.
Increasing the partnership with other agencies, the Video Integration Center will be able to instantly distribute and share this intelligence to all relevant stakeholders enabling rapid responses following incidents.
Through the development of one common operating platform, the City of Atlanta is able to work with various agencies, entities and develop protocols for preventing, detecting and responding to unfolding events. The information sharing network provides a new approach to a safer city.
Increasing efficiencies: a key aim
By its very nature, crime adds significant costs to any city. Its costs are far greater than the direct costs associated with policing.
Some of the key cost reductions resulting from the IPSecurityCenter solution include reducing policing costs through greater efficiency, reduced overall crime levels, increased incarceration rates and faster prosecution through the courts and legal system.
IPSecurityCenter also offers other involved agencies significant capital cost savings because, by tapping into the VIC, they do not need to bring their own infrastructure to levels of tools and technologies now provided by the VIC.
The Fox Theatre in the City of Atlanta
The ability to access video from private enterprise furthers the attractiveness of the return on investment for the system.
Dave Wilkinson explained: “We are leveraging the private sector investment in cameras and infrastructure – making Operation Shield a unique model – allowing the Atlanta Police Department, at a substantially lower cost, to keep citizens and visitors safe.”
Operation Shield’s future continues to grow with APD’s deployment of an Integrated Predictive Policing (IPP) Model which is transforming policing across the United States.
Predictive policing models are the newest tools for law enforcement using advanced technological tools and data analysis to take proactive measures to “pre-empt” crime. By combining video integration, multi-agency crime data and public records with other analytic technologies, Operation Shield effectively provides crime reduction and accountability while serving as a force multiplier and increasing resource efficiencies.
IPSecurityCenter is enabling Atlanta to implement the IPP model. It would not be viable to manage the vast amount of video coming into the VIC without IPSecurityCenter’s ability to intelligently catalogue, map and visualise the right video at the right time with data elements already on file.
One unique feature of this system is its ability to integrate many of the newest social media analytics. Officers and detectives identify emerging crime trends and are able to predict where crimes are likely to occur by using social media analysis, data mining techniques and other advanced analytics to identify trends, major actors, associates and elements of crimes.
Following an incident, when seconds count most, the system provides exceptional connectivity tools allowing camera images to be rapidly referenced against analytics and data providing a clear picture to responders. Armed with immediate situational awareness, operators are able to respond to incidents with greater accuracy and can ensure the most appropriate response to combat threats, crime and anything that can jeopardise the safety of citizens, commerce and infrastructure.
Police commanders can more effectively manage resources and deploy patrol officers in areas with emerging crime trends and stop crime before it impacts on a community. Commanders issue crime-fighting strategies based on an analysis of crime patterns, enabling officers to multiply their capabilities through an expansive array of innovative technologies including sensors, video cameras, license plate readers, automatic vehicle location, geo-spatial correlation and facial recognition technology.
Visualisation and reports
Every agency has its own need for management information and reporting. The system provides an enterprise level reporting engine, automating and delivering effective reports and statistics on overall system performance, device availability, operational effectiveness and any of the SOPs defined by the City.
IPSecurityCenter delivers a custom dashboard solution fusing disparate security technologies into one common platform. This results in reduced training time and greater operational efficiency for the officers, police department and the City.
Citywide integrated data is presented geo-spatially on the Operation Shield dashboard. This common operating view provides domain awareness and a real-time visual of the City’s crime trends.
As with any enterprise level system, there’s a constant need to increase the system in terms of the number of users, geographic coverage and new functionality. IPSecurityCenter allows an easy migration path to incorporate new technologies such as gunshot detection systems, tracking systems and smart video (like LPR) and analytics – all helping to enable greater intelligence driven policing.
The midtown district
IPSecurityCenter offers integration capability allowing Atlanta to lead the way in intelligent policing. It provides the city with the framework needed to reach both public and private systems, which is required to realize the vision for public-private partnerships in the foreseeable future.
Pretty soon, it will also allow Atlanta to make material improvements in areas of public safety other than crime, such as flood plain monitoring and fire and other emergency services, in turn making Atlanta a Safer City.