To the lay person they appear to be simple LED light spots going back to the original style of illumination of the old 1800s palace (1876) that currently houses the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, and that historically represents the first great building of the newly reborn Roman capital, as commissioned by the former Minister Quintino Sella.

Hidden in plain sight

The carefully hidden technology, however, transforms each of the 20 light points (appropriately designated “Roma lights”) decorating the external perimeter into a state-of-the-art tool to guarantee the security of the public in the area around the Ministry. The transformation is executed thanks to the internal installation of IP cameras produced and distributed world-wide by the German company MOBOTIX, equipped with software for recording and processing the images.

Notwithstanding the innovation of the performance, the new lighting systems are perfectly integrated, from an aesthetic point of view, with the historic palace where they are installed: A very advanced system, therefore, in terms of technology, but completely hidden inside a design in perfect harmony with the place where the light spot is installed, as envisioned and implemented by Dr. Massimo Belli, Appointed Administrator of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Dr. Umberto Dall’Aglio, Director of the VI Office of the IV Department of the Ministry and by Architect Gianluca Canofeni, Director of the Works and Technical Administrator of the IV Department.

The transformation is executed thanks to the internal installation
of IP cameras produced and distributed by MOBOTIX 

High efficiency at a low cost

“The motivation for the project was multifaceted: On the one hand to realise a control system based upon state-of-the-art video surveillance tools, and on the other hand implementing a new lighting project to substantially reduce electricity consumption – within the scope of energy efficiency –, guaranteeing at the same time a much longer useful life, and as a result a substantial reduction of maintenance costs”, said Lieutenant Colonel Saverio La Monaca, chief of the Central Security Organisation of the Ministry.

As per the costs, the analysis carried out by the Ghisamestieri teams, obviously as a function of the actual system utilisation give a clear picture: It is foreseen that the initial investment will be recouped within only 4 or 5 years and economic savings of even 50% between the fifth and fifteenth year of useful life of the system. With respect to energy savings, MOBOTIX’ video cameras provide a further guarantee, since their energy consumption is extremely low in comparison with other technologies present on the market: about 4 to 6 watts per hour.

MOBOTIX DualDome cameras

The project, which started in 2010 and concluded in only 5 months, comprises today of 20 wall light spots installed in strategic positions throughout the Ministry. Each shelf hides inside 2 MOBOTIX DualDome cameras with 180 degrees field of view, for an overall total of 40 high-resolution IP security cameras. The images can be recorded inside the cameras 24/7 (colour, and black and white) to be viewed at the control centre located inside the Ministry building. The security personnel belonging to the military branch of the Financial Guard manage the complete video surveillance apparatus and constantly monitor the images of the cameras in real time.

10 wireless routers manufactured by the young Italian company 3WLan, are installed inside a similar number of wall brackets and are capable of guaranteeing the bi-directional Wi-Fi link between the control centre and the patrols active outside the palace. This is possible thanks to an authentication on a RADIUS server that identifies the access permissions of the router on a list of authorised equipment.

"The new wireless system guarantees much more reduced operating expenses against a
much more intensive use profile
"

Exchange data and images in real time

“Especially in case of demonstrations, which is actually very common, our security operators are involved in the so-called pacification operations outside the palace for the purpose of first of all protecting the ministerial magistrates. These are carried out both on foot and inside our patrols – which implies the need to rapidly cross-check the owner of a particular vehicle or verifying the personal data on passports and identification documents. Before installing the new intelligent light spots we relied on a GSM system that was, however, very expensive. The new wireless system guarantees much more reduced operating expenses against a much more intensive use profile”, added Giancarlo Varvo, who is responsible for security.

The video surveillance technology available on the patrol vehicles, which are also equipped with tools to read license plates, or palmtop operating systems (also known as explorers) supplied to foot patrols, once within the radius of coverage of the poles equipped with Wi-Fi antennas, have the option of exchanging data and images with the operations centre inside the Ministry by means of a recognition system. Furthermore, by connecting to a specific IP address, external patrols have the possibility to view the images recorded by a specific video camera in real time.

Remote day/night illumination management

Each support is also equipped with a remote switch that allows managing the illumination and video surveillance functions completely autonomously and independently from each other. While the light source turns on at dusk and switches off at sunrise, the cameras continue functioning 24/7, according to the specific settings they may record both in continuous mode or trigger upon an event, such as the movement of a pedestrian, or a sound. The cameras placed close to the entrances of the Ministry are capable of sending alerts in real time to the operations centre, or activating a bollard along the perimeter thanks to an automatic vehicle license plate reading system.

Nothing to object about the support of the engineers of Ghisamestieri, that proved to beat all times available and collaborative in answering the requirements of the Ministry. Also, no complaints about Genius, a unique world-wide illumination solution, capable of offering high level design and advanced technology in a single solution. No objections about the technology made in Germany of MOBOTIX.

"In fact, the operations room located inside the Ministry
remotely controls the recording
of more than 1,600 cameras
"

Securing the facility with additional cameras

“In addition to the project implemented with Ghisamestieri, we employed the technology of MOBOTIX also for other types of requirements, still obviously related to the security of the Ministry: 36 AllroundMono security cameras have already been installed on the roof of the palace to check potential attacks for instance through the air vent conduits to the so-called Tempest room, a completely aseptic environment for the protection of communications inside the Ministry. In fact, the operations room located inside the Ministry remotely controls the recording of more than 1,600 cameras installed in various facilities connected to the department”, underscores Varvo.

The light spots installed in Rome find their place in a wider project, where any illumination support can potentially serve as a technology node. Named “Genius” by their creators, regardless of the design or aesthetic form, any light spot is potentially capable of becoming a true security centre, perfectly integrated from the aesthetic and urban points of view into city decor. Equipped with microphones and speakers, MOBOTIX’ cameras can put the citizens in touch with the operations centres of the police or ambulances by means of special buttons placed at the base of the pole or through the implementation of an RFID or magnetic strip identification system.

“With respect to traditional poles with well-visible cameras installed outdoors, Genius represents a true video security system, not just a simple crime deterrent”, concluded Varvo.

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