Watertown PD is monitored 24/7, with video feeds used for real-time surveillance of prisoners
Watertown Police Department
The city of Watertown, Massachusetts, lies less than ten miles west of Boston. Though only 4.2 square miles, the town is home to a population just shy of 32,000. The city’s history goes back quite far, with the first officially designated police officers assigned to duty starting in 1864. Since then, the department has grown considerably to accommodate the increased population. Watertown PD now employs around 90 people, nearly 70 of who are police officers. The department is housed in a brand new, 34,500 square foot, three-floor public safety building. It is home to all of the department’s operations, holding detectives, administration offices, armoury holding cells, an evidence room, a booking department, a shooting range, a fitness room, the dispatch centre and public spaces for visitors.
The business challenge
While selecting and configuring security solutions in any given use-case is a delicate endeavour, a public safety facility dictates some of the most demanding needs. A police department of this size requires precisely configured functionality to meet its high-intensity and legally dictated requirements. It also necessitates a highly robust, nearly foolproof system that can run smoothly even when failing over or placed under stress. Moreover, facilities like Watertown’s, which smartly place all operations under one roof, require an even wider functionality set and even more powerful management platform in order to appropriately handle the needs of everything from an office to a holding cell.
Prior to building the new facility, Watertown’s police department was secured with key and combination locks, and utilised buzzers to accommodate visitors. No access data was recorded. Minimum video coverage was provided by cameras on the corners of the buildings and in the cells. When the new building was designed, a comprehensive security solution that provided all-in-one functionality, and which could be installed by a single integrator, was sought. IP solutions were the most attractive, since they allow for seamlessly integrated platforms that combine both video surveillance and access control and can easily scale to meet future growth needs.
Watertown’s contractor selected SIGNET Electronic Systems as their security integrator, given their highly regarded reputation for establishing large systems. SIGNET provided a blueprint for installation in police departments that had been successfully deployed elsewhere. This blueprint provided for most of Watertown’s common needs, and could be adjusted as needed to fit more precisely. Selecting SIGNET allowed the general contractor to outsource the security portion of the project to a highly knowledgeable team, headed up by Bob Fecteau, Sales Manager at SIGNET. Mr. Fecteau was then able to collaborate with design and construction teams during the building process to ensure the structure was appropriately outfitted for all security needs from the ground up.
"They knew Security Center could cover all of Watertown’s varied needs, all while allowing operation and configuration from one user-friendly client interface"
The perfect solution
SIGNET proposed to install Genetec’s unified security platform, Security Center, which unifies Omnicast video surveillance and Synergis access control systems in one solution. “Choosing Genetec was an easy decision, as Genetec is clearly the superior product for high-level integrated IP-based access control and video surveillance projects,” said Andrew Pelletier, Project Manager at SIGNET. “They knew Security Center could cover all of Watertown’s varied needs, all while allowing operation and configuration from one user-friendly client interface.”
When the Security Center installation was complete, Watertown had a system tying into 42 video cameras and 72 access controlled points. Officer Robert Knell, Systems Administrator, said that implementation of the system went “very well – a lot better than we were expecting. We had none of the issues we’ve had with other vendors, and any minor changes, such as camera angle adjustments, have been handled speedily by SIGNET.”
Watertown’s 42 cameras include Bosch AutoDome Series PTZs for monitoring the building exterior and suicide-proof Bosch FlexiDome XFs with corner mounts for surveillance of holding cell interiors. The remainder of the cameras, used in public areas, interview rooms, and for all other surveillance needs are the vandal-resistant AXIS 212 PTZ-V and Fixed Dome Network Cameras – the latter of which come equipped with a built-in microphone for two-way audio communication.
Watertown PD is monitored 24/7, with video feeds used for real-time surveillance of prisoners, as dictated by law, as well as other spot monitoring. The prisoner and interview room feeds are burned directly to disc for indefinite archiving. All other video archives are kept for investigative purposes for a minimum of 30 days via a two-terabyte storage system. There are plans to increase the storage capacity to extend past 30 days in the near future.
|Watertown utilises Security Center to develop integrated solutions to address challenges faced in the department
In Watertown’s prisoner cells, custom-installed microphones are tied into the audio inputs of the AXISQ7401 Video Encoders. A noise threshold has been programmed that causes an alarm to be generated when the system detects that the decibel level in the cells hits the set threshold. This alarm calls up video at the monitoring stations in dispatch, and microphones attached to those workstations allow staff to broadcast speech back to the cells, creating two-way auditory communication.
HID Global’s iCLASS R40 and RK40 contactless smart card readers are used for Watertown’s access control. The Synergis access control system within Security Center manages access to dispatch, administrative offices, public spaces, the booking area and the evidence room (which uses the RK40’s keypad for added security). Synergis’ interlock feature is enabled to provide added control at overhead sallyport and garage doors by only allowing one of a set of two doors to be open at any given time. Door access and intrusion detection are managed by HID Global’s VertX series of controllers. The access control system includes a unique click-to-enter radio system for admitting cruiser vehicles via the back sallyport gate. This feature uses the frequency output from the police radios to trigger an action to open the gate for the cruiser vehicles. This feature is integrated with Security Center to provide an audit trail pertaining to when the gate has opened, and also to prevent inaccurate alarming.
To comply with safety requirements, fire emergency buttons are tied into Security Center’s access control system as well. This allows operators to trigger a series of system actions for fire safety procedures to comply with lock release requirements of prisoner holding cells in the event of an emergency. Other buttons exist for additional purposes, such as duress buttons for security breach emergencies and hot action buttons in dispatch for quick access to frequently used door controls.
Watertown’s Security Center system is monitored primarily from dispatch, where three 50-inch LG LCD monitors are driven by a Dell workstation that serves up Omnicast Live Viewer. Dispatch has one additional monitor at each of the four dispatch positions that runs Security Center for monitoring access control activities and for manual sallyport unlocking when necessary, using the aforementioned hot action buttons that are tied in for this purpose. Monitoring is also available to the shift commander, booking department, Officer Knell, a Captain and Detectives.
Choosing Genetec’s Security Center has allowed Watertown to deploy a system that is in the remarkable position of providing a wide spectrum of features while also offering granular configuration options, creating a highly flexible and customisable solution. Moreover, this powerful and robust system is navigable via one, unified graphical user interface that overlays video and access information and creates an intuitive environment in which users can manipulate and call up data.
"Security Center has addressed Watertown PD’s security needs seamlessly. In fact, it has addressed a lot of other issues as well"
“I think Security Center is great for us,” said Officer Knell. “We can have multiple images on one monitor. We can watch people come and go in the lobby and parking lots at once. It is so versatile, and we can have as many feeds up as we want at any given time. It allows us so many more options compared to what we had before. And it offers a number of features that go above and beyond to make our lives easier. As one example, the ability to group cameras by area makes it a snap to monitor someone as they walk down a hallway or pass from one room to the next. And of course any relevant access control data is called up right alongside the video.”
“Security Center has addressed Watertown PD’s security needs seamlessly. In fact, it has addressed a lot of other issues as well,” said Mr. Fecteau. Above and beyond straight security features, Watertown has been able to utilise Security Center to develop integrated solutions to address many other challenges faced in the department as well. For example, Watertown PD has deployed a creative solution for interview recording procedures that makes use of hot action button integrations. AXIS P3301-V network cameras and their included microphones are used for image and audio capture in Watertown’s interview rooms. Push buttons located in the interview rooms and connected to the cameras’ I/O ports allow interrogators to easily initiate a procedure that includes turning off audio recording in the room as requested by interviewee and required by law. A separate button allows for quick bookmarking of key points during the interview process, and pressing the first button again restores audio recording. Allowing in-the-moment bookmarking with a simple button greatly simplifies the footage review process, and the start/stop button provides an immediate framework for the recording process that does not require pre-planning or set-up via a PC in another room.
“The system has even helped me keep track of my hours,” said Officer Knell. “If I’ve forgotten to record the time I arrived, I can go back and call up my access control information to get a precise time. There are all sorts of additional tasks the system can help us to accomplish faster and more conveniently than before.”
“Having the same platform for viewing, threshold monitoring, interview recording and everything else in the past would have required four or five platforms,” said Mr. Fecteau, “so finding them unified under one platform is great. In addition to providing a simple interface for operators in the short term, in the long term, Watertown will benefit from a maintenance and development flexibility standpoint: they will only need to invest in one platform, and will avoiding running the risk of encountering clashing product lines further down the development path. In this way, choosing Genetec really future-proofs Watertown Police Department’s investment.”