Dallas turned out to be a great location for this year’s ASIS 2010 Conferences, in part because City of Dallas is a long-term user of Firetide technology for their municipal video surveillance system. The project started in 2006, and the first cameras (about 40) went in early 2007. Now the City of Dallas project is up to 152 cameras and 165 mesh nodes, in Downtown, Uptown, Jefferson Boulevard, and Jubilee Park neighborhood.
ASIS organized the tour, as they typically do, as part of Monday’s pre-conference programming. There were 50 participants, as we boarded the bus at the Dallas Convention Center.
Downtown Dallas bus tour, muni surveillance edition
The tour consisted of multiple segments, with the first leg being the bus tour of the downtown. John Watson, Chairman of Bearcom (the integrator on the project) narrated the bus tour, giving us the background and the history of the project. The system is 100% wireless using Firetide infrastructure mesh for street level connectivity and BridgeWave point-to-point links to backhaul various parts of the network to City Hall, and from City Hall to the Police Department building a few miles away.
We drove through the Central Business District and the Arts District, eventually coming to the City Hall. I snapped some pictures while on the bus:
Dallas PD Mobile Command Center
The next stop of the tour was the Dallas PD Mobile Command Center (MCC), which was parked at City Hall. The MCC is also equipped with Firetide mesh nodes, enabling mesh connectivity to the MCC, if it’s within reach of any of the fixed mesh nodes. You can the mesh nodes peaking from the top of the MCC:
We got a brief presentation on the project at the side of the MCC (it’s equipped with a flat screen monitor). You can view the presentation below (pretty compelling statitistics on calls for service and arrests directly relating to the cameras, plus overall crime reduction statistics for the past three years):
911 Center, Police Dispatch and Camera Unit
City Hall houses 911 Center, the Police Dispatch, and the Camera Unit, where the city’s cameras are being monitored. We were give a talk in each of these areas, which were all very interesting so I was glad we did not focus just on the cameras. 911 Center takes 2 million calls a year, with 650,000 being passed onto the Police Dispatch.The 911 Center manager shared with us how the center operates, what types of calls they have, and how 911 call takers handle the sometimes harrowing aspects of their jobs.
The Camera Unit was the main “goal” of the tour so we spent a good deal of time in the unit, which is a newly opened room with 8 workstations. Retired or light duty police officers monitor video 24X7. The calls for service that I mentioned earlier either originate from the camera operators when they spot something suspicious, or when they are asked to view something on camera by the dispatch.
The camera operators played a few clips for us from the past incidents captured on camera, from robberies to car break-ins and even a traffic accident that resulted in a fatality. (I thought that the last one was a bit over the top, but nothing probably phases the operators). We also saw how they zoom in in real-time onto license plates hundreds of yards away, with no lag or hesitation from the camera. That was impressive, considering the network is all-wireless. OnSSI Ocularis client was on display – very snazzy!
Shots of the camera room:
This was a whirl-wind week in Dallas, but I was glad I took the time to participate in the tour. More recaps from ASIS 2010 are coming up!
Any questions about the tour? Feel free to ask.
For more posts on ASIS 2010, see:
- ASIS 2010 Impressions: ASIS Accolades; Social Media at #ASIS10
- ASIS 2010 Recap, Part 2: New Products, Many Meetings
- Social Media For Crisis Communications, Presented at #ASIS10
- #ASIS10 Giveaway: Firetide Devil Duckie Is Retiring!