Public safety and the protection of property initiatives led the city of Mankato, Minnesota to deploy a city-wide IP-based video surveillance system. Founded in 1852, the city is the seat of Blue Earth County. It encompasses 18.26 square miles of land and water, and supports a population of about 41,000 (2015 US census estimate). Home to a variety of natural landmarks and higher educational institutes, Mankato provides a dynamic lifestyle for its citizens all year round.

Surveillance for key community areas

The new city surveillance system uses a range of Arecont Vision megapixel cameras to cover key areas of the community, with the largest concentration of cameras deployed in the popular downtown entertainment district. Surveillance is also in place throughout Mankato’s city hall, civic event centre, shopping areas, parking ramps, public safety centre, municipal water plant, public works centre, regional airport, and for multiple public parks and community streets.

The limitations of the previous surveillance system inspired extensive enhancements and capabilities for the new project. The original system NVR supported primarily analogue technology cameras, with a small percentage of early generation IP cameras supporting only JPEG video.

The image quality of megapixel cameras could not be matched by this system, nor could it be cost effectively grown to address city requirements. In order to enjoy enhanced security, increased public safety, and the protection of property, a more modern and capable surveillance system was required. The city thus engaged security and communications integrator WW Communications to design and deploy such a project.The limitations of the previous surveillance system inspired extensive enhancements and capabilities for the new project

WW Communications

WW Communications’ COO Mike Bales led the effort and selected Arecont Vision’s IP megapixel cameras as the core of the new project. With regards as to why Arecont Vision was selected for the project, Bales explained: “A variety of factors led to the use of Arecont Vision, not least of which was the commitment and quality they provide as an American-based manufacturer. They are one of the few vendors who design and build their cameras in the U.S., and their cameras’ features and reliability reflect that.”

Delving further into what features specifically appealed to them, Bales concluded, “Simplified installation features such as remote focus, along with advanced features such as true WDR (wide dynamic range) were key factors in the decision. Additionally, the SurroundVideo camera series’ cost effectiveness and coverage capabilities placed Arecont Vision ahead of its competitors for the job.”

SurroundVideo cameras were first designed and pioneered in the surveillance industry by Arecont Vision in 2006. Now in their fifth generation, they provide non-stop coverage with four individual megapixel sensors for superior situational awareness and image quality while reducing the total number of cameras required for surveillance projects.

After deciding on a manufacturer, Milestone Systems was then brought on as the video management software for Mankato’s new surveillance system. Arecont Vision and Milestone are proven integration partners, having completed thousands of seamlessly-integrated city surveillance projects around the world.

Arecont Vision and Milestone Systems

Additionally, Milestone is a top-tier participant in the Arecont Vision Technology Partner Program and its VMS software is among those used in Arecont Vision’s MegaLab. “The close technology and support integration between Arecont Vision and Milestone helped ensure that a best-in-class surveillance system was delivered to the Mankato,” commented Bales. “The result is a single system for the city that is second to none in capabilities and can grow with the community’s needs.”

Arecont Vision remote monitoring Mankato study
The surveillance system has exceeded the expectations of the city to protect both people and property

City surveillance project phases

Phase one of the project included deploying thirteen cameras to the newly-built public safety centre. Phase two resulted in the deployment of thirty-seven cameras to the city’s entertainment district. The effectiveness of these cameras led to additional installations at city sites which greatly assisted in reducing common vandalisms and other public safety crimes.

Phase three of the project involved the installation of twenty-three MegaDome 2 single sensor cameras onto the fourth floor of a brand-new, four-storey parking facility in the downtown area. Surveillance of the structure was further enhanced through use of a SurroundVideo Omni — a unique omni-directional camera introduced to the industry by Arecont Vision in 2014.

Unmatched surveillance capabilities

The Omni camera series offers four megapixel sensors that are mounted on three-axis gimbals inside a low-profile dome enclosure. The sensors can be individualised to cover virtually any direction, providing unmatched surveillance capabilities with a single high-resolution camera that is fully integrated with the VMS.

With the recent Public Works Centre campus construction project, another three MicroDome G2 and five SurroundVideo Omni cameras were added to the city’s overall surveillance system. Five SurroundVideo Omni cameras and MicroDome G2 cameras were also installed along a pedestrian walkway that stretches from local hotels to the city’s civic centre and entertainment district. The system is expected to continue growing in order to address public safety and property protection concerns as they arise.

Security and city-wide situational awareness

After a Mankato bar closed for the night, a major altercation took place, where the Arecont Vision Cameras were crucial in solving the crime

Depending upon the location and local requirement, the Mankato’s city surveillance system uses a range of Arecont Vision cameras. These include single sensor 2 – 5MP MegaDome 2 and MicroDome G2 cameras. 20MP SurroundVideo multi-sensor cameras provide 180° situational awareness coverage, while omni-directional SurroundVideo Omni G1 and G2 cameras cover an even wider range of deployments.

The city surveillance system is managed and monitored from a command centre with a multitude of large screens displayed across a wall. “The surveillance system and the screens are critically important during high-traffic events in the city,” said Mr. Bales. “With three colleges here in town, homecoming is a very busy time of the year. There are also numerous festivals that take place in the city combined with a very dynamic downtown. Our staff is able to view the activities as they happen, enhancing security and city-wide situational awareness.”

Video streaming to mobile devices

It is not just the security centre that can monitor this system either — video can also be streamed to mobile devices and can be monitored for official use all over the city. The system provides public monitoring as well. There are about half a dozen locations downtown with indoor walkways and skyways that are covered by Arecont Vision cameras with live video, providing the public with supplementary awareness and security.

The surveillance system has exceeded the expectations of the city to protect both people and property. An example of the system’s usefulness was evident in a recent incident that made national news. After a Mankato bar closed for the night, a major altercation took place, where the Arecont Vision Cameras were crucial in solving the crime.

The city surveillance system caught the incident on camera, providing detailed video evidence which assisted law enforcement in proceeding accordingly. The cameras prompted the ideal outcome in an unfortunate situation, helping make the legal process more efficient and serving to greater deter the occurrence of future incidents.

When probed on how the system has performed to date, Bales responded that Arecont Vision “exceeded the expectations.” Arecont Vision looks forward to continuing this legacy throughout its work with the City of Mankato.

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Has the gap closed between security fiction and security reality?
Has the gap closed between security fiction and security reality?

Among its many uses and benefits, technology is a handy tool in the fantasy world of movie and television thrillers. We all know the scene: a vital plot point depends on having just the right super-duper gadget to locate a suspect or to get past a locked door. In movies and TV, face recognition is more a super power than a technical function. Video footage can be magically enhanced to provide a perfect image of a license plate number. We have all shaken our heads in disbelief, and yet, our industry’s technical capabilities are improving every day. Are we approaching a day when the “enhanced” view of technology in movies and TV is closer to the truth? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How much has the gap closed between the reality of security system capabilities and what you see on TV (or at the movies)?

BCDVideo signs OEM deal with Dell EMC: positive impact for surveillance storage
BCDVideo signs OEM deal with Dell EMC: positive impact for surveillance storage

In a significant move for the video security market, BCDVideo has announced that it is set to become Dell EMC’s OEM partner in the video surveillance space. For nearly a decade, the Chicago-based company has been known as a key OEM partner of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), providing storage and networking technology to security integrators on a global scale. This latest partnership will allow BCDVideo to take their offerings to the next level. BCDVideo Vice President Tom Larson spoke to SourceSecurity.com to discuss the reasoning behind the deal, and how the programme will benefit partners, integrators, and end-users alike. Expanding BCDVideo's product offering For BCDVideo, the HPE OEM programme has been widely acknowledged as a success, allowing the company to leverage a globally recognised brand and provide high-quality, reliable solutions across video networking and access control. Nevertheless, explains Larson, HPE server solutions are primarily suited to large-scale enterprise projects, and are therefore unable to accommodate for the growth in small- and medium-sized surveillance applications. The global collaboration with Dell EMC will allow BCDVideo to open up a broader product offering, building on success in the larger enterprise market to offer tailored solutions to SMEs. Our aim is to look at all best of breed technology to serve the video surveillance marketplace, and that means multiple partnerships” Support for integrators By leveraging Dell EMC’s sophisticated digital storage platforms, BCDVideo will now be able to offer a more cost-effective solution to integrators, without sacrificing the resilience and IT-level service that BCDVideo is known for. With access to Dell EMC’s expansive global sales and technical teams, the company hopes to expand its reach, all-the-while providing partners with around-the-clock technical support and a five-year on-site warranty. Customers should be reassured that BCDVideo will continue to offer HPE platforms, service, and support. “Our aim is to look at all best-of-breed technology to serve the video surveillance marketplace, and that means multiple partnerships,” says Larson.  “The addition of Dell EMC to our portfolio is a major win for BCDVideo, for Dell EMC, and for our integrators.” The global collaboration with Dell EMC will allow BCDVideo to open up a broader product offering Meeting surveillance market demands At the technology level, assures Larson, Dell EMC’s server offering is well suited to handle the increasing video resolution and growing camera count demanded by the surveillance industry. At the larger end of the spectrum, the company’s Isilon Scale-Out NAS solution can handle tens of petabytes of data, making it ideal for large-scale security applications such as city-wide surveillance and airport security. Dell EMC storage solutions are already proving successful at major international airports including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, each with a camera count in the 1000s.Dell EMC and BCDVideo together are ensuring our customers get the right solutions designed for the surveillance market” For Dell EMC, the new partnership means the ability to expand on this success in the enterprise market, leveraging BCDVideo’s surveillance expertise and high-level customer service to offer tailored solutions for lower-volume applications. Since its inception, BCDVideo has differentiated itself in the security space by providing a high level of IT service to integrators making the transition to IP systems. By combining resources, the partners will be able to service VMS and analytics companies, software vendors, and access control providers, as well as traditional business integrators. Ken Mills, General Manager Dell EMC Surveillance, explains: “Surveillance storage is not just about capacity, it is also about performance and reliability. Dell EMC and BCDVideo together are ensuring our customers get the right solutions designed for the surveillance market.” Accomodating for growth BCDVideo is well placed to accommodate this anticipated growth. Last year, the company opened a new 51,000-square-foot global headquarters in Illinois, home to 90 separate stations within their Innovation Center where each system is customised according to integrator needs. The new facility allows for expanding business with new and existing partners in the security market.

How to manage physical security data in compliance with EU GDPR
How to manage physical security data in compliance with EU GDPR

Until recently, data laws have differed from one country to the next. This meant that for those organisations conducting business or protecting assets abroad, they needed to localise both their infrastructure and policies dependant on the country they were operating in. However, with the impending arrival of the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which comes in to force on the 25th May this year, all of that will need to change. Data management in CCTV surveillance Surprisingly, despite the fact that much has been written about the impending EU GDPR, very little attention has been devoted to the process of ensuring compliance for the operation of video surveillance, access control and other physical security systems. The EU GDPR dictates that businesses adhere to specific governance and accountability standards with regards to the processing of all data. As this includes such a large scope of data, any public or even private organisation using CCTV to monitor publicly-accessible areas must pay attention, as monitoring the public on a large scale is by default considered a high-risk activity. This includes information that shows who a person is, where they are and any other specifics about them.We have seen organisations defining corporate standards for their physical security systems based around IT standards and technologies According to numerous market research studies, many organisations are yet to take the necessary steps in order to review the new regulations and ensure the necessary changes are made to meet these obligations. To date, we have seen organisations defining corporate standards for their physical security systems based around IT standards and technologies. With the implementation deadline of the new regulations fast approaching, these should be in a better state of readiness, with standardised processes, common organisational approach and technology. Enhancing industry awareness of compliance  What’s more, a lot of legacy systems or disparate systems are still out there, and these may still have been entirely commissioned and operated by location-specific security teams. Regardless as to where your organisation stands in terms of technology, it is important to participate in the GDPR review with a greater sense of urgency.  The EU GDPR dictates that businesses adhere to specific governance and accountability standards with regards to the processing of all data Tony Porter, the UK’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner, has been incredibly vocal in recent months with regards to making security system operators aware that their activities will be subject to the GDPR and to signpost them to relevant guidance from the ICO. For those actively seeking to ensure their businesses are compliant, his organisation’s independent third-party certification is a great place to start. However, with just a few months until the regulation comes into force, it is unfortunate that his organisation is not yet in a position to confirm this will be sufficient to demonstrate compliance with the EU GDPR. Ensuring regulatory preparedness With this being said, there are still a number of steps organisations can take to ensure they are well-prepared when the law comes into play: Get involved in the GDPR discussion If you haven’t already, proactively initiate a GDPR discussion with your legal team and ask for their guidance. Conduct a gap analysis to identify what works and what might require improvement in accordance with the new regulation. Then engage your consultants, integrators and manufacturers who should be able to advise on appropriate solutions. In the vast majority of cases, it should be possible to upgrade the existing system rather than ‘rip out and replace’.The appropriate use of encryption and automated privacy tools is a logical step Adopt privacy by design Under the terms of the EU GDPR, data that is anonymised or pseudonymised is likely to be low-risk. The appropriate use of encryption and automated privacy tools is therefore a logical step. For example, video redaction that blurs out people’s faces in video unless there is a legitimate reason to reveal their identity can minimise the dangers of having security cameras deployed in public spaces. Seek out certified and sanctioned organisations, such as the European Privacy Seal group ‘EuroPriSe’, a professional organisation whose purpose is to ensure companies meet the ‘GDPR-ready’ privacy compliance standards. Consider cloud-based services Owners of on-premises video surveillance, access control or ANPR systems are responsible for all aspects of EU GDPR compliance, including securing access to the systems and servers storing the information. However, by working with an approved cloud provider it is possible to offload some of these responsibilities. For example, we partner with Microsoft Azure to offer these systems ‘as a service’. This pathway significantly reduces the customer’s scope of activities required to ensure compliance and is highly cost-effective. Yet it is important to realise it isn’t a full abdication of responsibility. You remain accountable for ensuring data is classified correctly and share responsibility for managing users and end-point devices.  With data laws changing around the world, businesses need to seriously consider how their security technology investments will help them manage risks in order to keep pace. With the GDPR deadline approaching, it is the ideal time to re-evaluate practices, partner with forward-thinking vendors and adopt technologies that will help meet privacy and data protection laws. This way, businesses can minimise risk, avoid costly penalties and be ready for anything.

Key highlights
  • Surveillance for key community areas
  • WW Communications
  • Arecont Vision and Milestone Systems
  • City surveillance project phases
  • Unmatched surveillance capabilities
  • Security and city-wide situational awareness
  • Video streaming to mobile devices