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.

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2018 FIFA World Cup Russia integrates safety, security and service
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia integrates safety, security and service

The 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament is bringing 32 national teams and more than 400,000 foreign football fans from all over the world to 12 venues in 11 cities in Russia. Fans are crowding into cities including Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan. Given continuing global concerns about terrorism, security is top-of-mind. Protection of the World Cup games in Russia is focusing on an “integrated safety, security and service approach,” according to officials. Combining the term “security” with the terms “safety” and “service” is not an accident. An aggressive security stance is necessary, but at the end of the day, fan safety is paramount, and a service-oriented approach ensures a positive fan experience. Medical responders will be working side-by-side with police and antiterrorism personnel. Risk management best practices We asked Sean T. Horner and Ben Joelson, directors of the Chertoff Group, a global advisory firm focused on best practices in security and risk management, to comment on security at FIFA World Cup 2018. Although not involved in securing the 2018 World Cup, the Chertoff Group is experienced at securing large events and enterprises using risk management, business practices and security. Integration is another important aspect of protecting the games, says Horner. The use of multiple resources, including Russian military, intelligence and law enforcement, will be closely integrated to provide the best security for the large-scale event in each of the host cities, he says. The approach will be centralised and flexible, with resource deployment guided by effective situational awareness. Primary security and emergency operations centres will be dispersed throughout each host city “There is a unified command structure at the Russian Federation level, and they will keep resources in reserve and shift them as needed to various events and venues based on any specific intelligence, in effect deploying resources where threats are greatest,” says Joelson. “There will also be some regional commands, and resources will incorporate a spectrum of police and military personnel ranging from the ‘cop on the beat’ to the Spetsnaz, the Russian ‘special forces'.” Primary security and emergency operations centres will be dispersed throughout each host city, and additional forces can be shifted as necessary, he notes. Role of law enforcement In Russia, the lines of separation between law enforcement and the military are not as stark as in the United States, for example, where military forces are restricted from deployment for domestic law enforcement by the Posse Comitatus Act. In Russia, there is no such restriction.  A broad range of technology will play a role at the World Cup, Horner and Joelson agree. Technology will be used primarily as a force multiplier and a decision-support tool for security personnel. There are robust CCTV systems in many Russian cities, and mobile CCTV systems, such as camera towers or mobile security centres on wheels, will also be deployed. Technologies will include infrared cameras, flood lights, and ferromagnetic screening systems to scan hundreds of individuals as they walk by. In some locations, facial recognition systems will be used, tied into various intelligence, military and law enforcement databases of known bad actors. Behaviour analytics will be used as a decision-support tool. In addition to security in public areas, private CCTV systems in hotels, at transportation hubs, and inside the venues themselves will be leveraged. Video analytics and detection will help personnel review live view of people who may be acting suspiciously or who leave a bag unattended. In some locations, facial recognition systems will be used, tied into various intelligence, military and law enforcement databases of known bad actors Rigorous anti-terrorism measures A Fan ID card is required to enter the 2018 World Cup Tournament, even for Russian residents. The Russians have an aggressive stance against domestic terrorism, which will also help ensure the safety of the World Cup games, say Horner and Joelson. Terrorist group ISIS has promised “unprecedented violence” at the games, but they make similar threats at every major global event. Russia has been an active force disrupting ISIS in Syria, and experts suggest that losing ground geographically could lead to addition “asymmetric” terrorist attacks. However, Russia is leveraging all their intelligence resources to identify any plots and deploying their security apparatus to disrupt any planned attacks, experts say. Russia’s rigorous anti-terrorism measures include a total ban on planes and other flying devices (such as drones) around the stadiums hosting the World Cup. Private security In addition to military, intelligence and law enforcement personnel, private security will play a have a high profile during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Private security personnel will be on the front lines in hotels and in “fan zones.” They will operate magnetometers at entrances, perform bag checks, enforce restrictions on hand-carried items, etc. Private security will be especially important to the “guest experience” aspects of protecting the games. 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Joelson notes that freedom of speech is not as valued in Russia as in other parts of the world, so the scales will be even more tipped toward security. “The last thing they want is for things to get out of control,” says Horner. “The event is putting Russia on the world stage, and they want visitors to walk away safely after having a great time and wanting to go back in the future.” Attendees should also have good situational awareness, and keep their heads up, scanning crowds and identifying unsafe situations" Precautions for World Cup attendees Attendees to the World Cup in Russia should take some basic precautions, Horner and Joelson agree. For example, Russia requires a translated, notarised letter explaining any prescription drugs. The country has a more aggressive foreign intelligence environment, so visitors cannot depend on their data being private. Joelson recommends the usual “social media hygiene” and privacy settings. Visitors should not post information about their travel plans or locations, and it’s best to travel with a disposable mobile phone that does not contain personal information. Location tracking should be deactivated. Travellers should also beware of talking and sharing information with others, or of saying anything derogatory. “They should also have good situational awareness, and keep their heads up, scanning crowds and identifying unsafe situations,” says Joelson. “If you bring a personal electronic device, you should expect that it has been compromised,” says Horner. Text messages and email will not be private, and he suggests creating an email address used only for travel. Don’t leave drinks unattended. Travellers from the U.S. should register at the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) operated by the U.S. State Department. “Plan before you travel and before you get to the airport,” says Horner.

The benefits and challenges of in-camera audio analytics for surveillance solutions
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