|The Transit Center decided on MOBOTIX cameras because of cost efficiencies delivered by its decentralised approach to surveillance technology|
The Municipality of Anchorage Downtown Bus Transit Center is the main cog in a 14-route bus system that serves the metropolitan area of Anchorage as well as its surrounding suburbs. As the termination point for many routes, including commuters from the city outskirts, Anchorage transportation workers estimate 3,000 riders per day pass through the downtown transit centre, in addition to the people attracted by the businesses in the area who are not riding the bus.
Like any high-traffic bottleneck, through which thousands of people per day pass, the Municipality of Anchorage Downtown Transit Center began to experience its share of illicit activities. When Judy Tymick, Customer Service Manager, Public Transportation Department, was at Town Hall meeting with the mayor to highlight municipal services, she was staffing a table representing transit that was adjacent to the Police Chief.
"The police department had a map of Anchorage that showed the area’s crime statistics. The bigger the dot on an area of town, the more often the Anchorage Police responded," she said. "The biggest dot on that map was the downtown transit centre."
In addition to being on the police department’s literal and figurative map, the transportation department wanted to increase ridership and attract more people to local businesses.
"The crime issue was one element but it was equally important that people were not feeling comfortable at the station and we wanted to address that issue," said Lance Wilber, Director, Public Transportation Department. "We needed to make sure that all our customers were comfortable, at both the station and riding our buses."
The crime issue was one
Edward Knoch with systems integrator TecPro installed 29 MOBOTIX cameras comprised of Q24s, D12s and M24s as well as a Pivot3 video surveillance storage system that allows the department to retain up to 24 days of video. TecPro is a seasoned security systems integrator that also serves in the electrical contracting industry and has been providing solutions to Alaska for more than 20 years. TecPro prides itself on exceeding consumer expectations through innovative applications of technology and offering the best solutions at competitive prices.
The transit centre ultimately decided on the MOBOTIX cameras because of the cost efficiencies delivered by its decentralised approach to surveillance technology. Each camera incorporates a high-speed computer and internal flash memory card (microSD card) to enable recording and storage to occur within the camera, reducing the need for a separate PC or DVR. Furthermore, the department found additional ROI in deploying MxControlCenter, a professional video management software package that connects any number of cameras at any location with centralised or local, user-based operation and evaluation, as it is included with the MOBOTIX cameras at no additional charge. The usability of the VMS platform allows the transit centre to easily train new security guards, a position that often has a high turnover rate.
The MOBOTIX cameras also provide a high level of video quality through its use of megapixel sensors. One single MOBOTIX camera with 3.1 megapixels records 30 times more detail than traditional CCTV cameras. As a result, larger image areas of up to 360-degree views are possible, which reduces the number of cameras needed in any environment and, therefore, upfront and long-term costs. Most importantly, as a local government on a small budget, the transit centre was able to save thousands of dollars and get more features than anticipated.
"They were really surprised how much money we were able to save them," said Knoch. "With the other system they had in mind, they would have had the coverage they were looking for but with MOBOTIX we were able to overlap the coverage and provide more than they asked for. They now have audio, which was not something they were originally seeking."
|Systems integrator TecPro installed 29 MOBOTIX cameras comprised of Q24s, D12s and M24s|
The transit department is leveraging Pivot3 Appliances to store captured video and host the video management system software. The scale-out nature of the Pivot3 solution ensures that the performance and capacity of the system can handle the demands of incoming video streams and offer investment protection over time as the deployment grows.
The amount of storage capacity required by surveillance video is a major budget item in a surveillance installation since cameras, especially megapixel cameras, can generate up to 1TB of data in one day. A scale-out system, such as the one provided by Pivot3, allows users to begin with the exact amount of storage needed to satisfy current requirements and quickly add capacity and performance if needed by non-disruptively adding appliances. The Pivot3 Appliances also reduce cost by consolidating server and shared storage functionality in a common appliance, and provide application failover that protects both storage and VMS applications in the event of a failure.
ResultsJust a few months after the surveillance system was installed, the Municipality of Anchorage posted a report on their website that pointed out the changed behaviour of their riders. Crime has been reduced, riders are feeling more comfortable and the transit centre is now working more closely with the police department – and the MOBOTIX surveillance system – to solve crimes. "Public transportation often has an image problem," Wilber said. "The security technology we’ve adapted helps improve that image. The environment at the centre is noticeably more positive. Overall, passengers seem much more comfortable."
The surveillance system has also directly solved crime and helped support the department’s security personnel. In one instance, the cameras helped guards locate a purse-snatcher, arrest him and quickly return the purse to its owner. In another, the audio function picked up a drug deal – a feature that wouldn’t have been available if the municipality had gone with their original camera choice – and quickly put an end to it.
"The number of alcohol containers in the station has gone down and people seem much more comfortable," Tymick said. "It’s just a much better place to be now." The surveillance has also helped the transit centre increase the efficiency of their business. They use the cameras to track the on-time performance of buses and they hope to use the cameras to assist with required passenger counts. It now plans on adding cameras to five additional bus stops, which is a simple addition with the easily scalable MOBOTIX system.
"In addition to the safety perspective, the cameras have proved useful in other applications," said Randy Bergt, Engineer, Department of Transportation. "We can tap into our video footage to see current road conditions and determine if we should put the busses on the road, or if we should avoid certain roads. There’s a variety of latitude for the usability of the information."