NC City Surveillance Challenges

Author: Ben Wood, Published on Jun 17, 2013

City surveillance systems can be challenging, even for a small city of one hundred thousand people with just a handful of cameras. In this note, we dig into the problems that Wilmington NC faces and the solutions that it is planning to fix them.

Problems

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Comments (11)

Has Wilmington defined what the analytics are/were (trying) to be used for?

Is the plan still the same (RE: analytics) going forward as it was when the deployment failed at the begining?

Claiming analytics 'never worked' is pretty vague. Why didn't they?

How much money did they waste over 4 years (annual licensing?) by shelving the analytics after a few days once they 'didn't work'?

Also, I think you nailed one of the main system failure points. It's the familiar 'grants pay for equipment/installation while completely ignoring on-going maintenance needs' syndrome that is endemic in US cities.

Note, there's typically no 'annual licensing'. As the VMS manufacturers are at pains to tell us, those 'annual' charges are optional. In this case, I bet they did not pay any more for licensing to ActiveEye/Honywell.

Marty, here's what I can answer of those now. The others I can ask.

Has Wilmington defined what the analytics are/were (trying) to be used for?

I don't know what the analytics were being used for.

Claiming analytics 'never worked' is pretty vague. Why didn't they?

They weren't alerting them to the activity they were looking for. I'll have to find out what that activity was.

Can you clarify what you're asking on this one:

Is the plan still the same (RE: analytics) going forward as it was when the deployment failed at the beginning?

If they turned them off after the first couple of days, it is most likely that they got barraged with false alerts. If they got no alerts, there would be no reason to turn it off, right? Only when you get hammered with false alerts are you motivated to shut the system down.

I'm curious about the intended future placement of those legacy PTZs. Do the analytics need both a PTZ and a fixed camera to perform whatever the analytics were intended for?

<queue dream sequence> Long, long ago in a land far, far away (analog era) when I was with an integrator, we had a customer who was a preacher. He wanted to have a surveillance camera auto-track him as he walked back and forth and brought thunder as he preached the word during his sermons of salvation.

Since this was a customer who was refilled weekly with OPM (other peoples money) we didn't mention that having a person pan a camera back and forth physically might've saved his flock thousands.

At the time (~2006) we went with the only solution we could find: Pelco Spectra II (III?) PTZ to track movements of identified object... but this required a fixed camera placed right under the PTZ for orientation (fixed focal 'home' point) required by the Spectra to do the auto-tracking.

If tracking objects was part of Wilmington's original plan, maybe not having the fixed cameras with the PTZs was the fail? And if so, that also answers Johns last comment about how the intended result not happening can also be a reason to shelve them - not just too many false alerts... :)

For about the same money they could have fiber optics with no downtime. They could run each camera to a fiber MUX and run 10 or more on one fiber cable.

Hello, Undisclosed:

That approach still would have resulted in longer lengths of <new> fiber run to a MUX, no?

The big question is: how difficult would it be to get fiber to those points?

On the plus side, the area appears to be fairly small (e.g., an 8 block by 3 block area). Also, given how much money they have already spent and are going to spend, it might have been cheaper to use fiber.

How true is the Incompatibility statment by firetide? Do you think this is valid or the intend to sell more firetide products?

I would think the non-firetide radios has to be hardwired to Firetide for it to work. If that is the case, I would understand that they will not be part of the firetide mesh but I dont see how they would cause issues since the firetide system will see them as devices on the network.

Hello, Undisclosed:

That approach still would have resulted in longer lengths of <new> fiber run to a MUX, no?

Yes. IFS and Fiber Options are very good at video and RS 485 PTZ controls. I have personally installed large projects with fiber MUXes to the head end and was very pleased with the result. The main reason was cost and the one beneift the customer liked was insulation from lightning strikes hitting a camera and taking out the head end matrix. Of course wireless technology was in it's infancy.

How true is the Incompatibility statment by firetide? Do you think this is valid or the intend to sell more firetide products?

Personally I do not blame them because their technical support personnel are trained on their products. Why should they attempt to support a mixture of technologies with different specifications? They probably would be guessing their responses to the installer then if it didn't work would get the blame. I have been in a three manufacturer mix of products when a new install didn't work. Fingers were pointing everywhere until I took two products out of the loop by running a direct cable to the camera. The cure was to change the bias setting on the code converter into the wireless transciever contrary to the instructions.

I did once have a Chevy that I kept spending money on, hoping that it would work. Never did.

This description has me completely baffled. To remedy the issue they are going to throw in more Firetide nodes and use directional antennas (hence, this is not a mesh but a daisy chain design, which is what they were straying from). Honeywell Cameras (do they still make cameras??) on a Schneider (I am sorry...Pelco) camera platform. Are they even supported?

So I guess the answer is: Add more Firetide Nodes (8K each?? ). Oh, I forgot, you are also getting some specially calibrated Firetide 23 dbi 5 Ghz antennas replaced (which are directional, which gives you the equivalent of a $100 a radio Ubiquiti network). Firetide does not hold any magic patent over 23 dbi 5.8 GHz panel antennas (not sure why high gain would be used anyway on an $8,000 mesh radio in an 8 x 3 block area).

They really should contact someone that knows what they are doing.

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