There are some deployments that just “keep on giving” in terms of continued success and resulting press coverage. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is among them. I recently came across an article in Law Officer magazine, which details the ASAP (Advanced Surveillance And Protection) program implemented by the LASD’s Century Station in Lynwood, CA (an unincorporated area in Los Angeles.)
The article describes Lynwood and surrounding areas as follows: “Covering a little more than 13 square miles, with a population of about 200,000, LASD’s Century Station deputies patrol some of the most challenging streets in the nation. Prostitution and drug use are common. Gunshots and gang violence are seemingly endemic, and successful solutions to reduce crime are hard to come by.” I was at the station once, and let me tell you, that’s not the neighborhood you want to get lost in (which my companion and I did on the way there).
What’s impressive about the program is the integration of numerous technologies, changing the way law enforcement goes about their daily business: “LASD staff has used a strategy that involves cutting-edge technology to bring about change for these communities. The department has implemented an IP video surveillance system, a gunshot recognition system, license plate recognition (LPR) and in-field fingerprint scanning into a comprehensive approach to policing.” The video wall is right in the dispatch center, so it’s easily accessible to watch deputies. They bring up cameras as they get calls for service, and are able to track suspects or ‘watch over’ a stop performed by deputies on the ground.
The article elaborates on the video mesh system:
“IP Video Surveillance Cameras
In the initial approach to a monumental crime problem, the LASD installed eight surveillance cameras in areas that had a high number of calls for service, particularly for violent crime. These first cameras were funded as a proof of concept through the Safe Cities program. The success led to additional installations that now total 34 cameras, with 10 additional installations planned in the near term.
Because of bandwidth, line-of-sight and other environmental limitations, the construction of a wireless network to support an IP video system posed numerous challenges. Among them, fiber-optic infrastructure is not available in Lynwood, requiring wireless technology that would support real-time, high-quality video (4CIF/30 FPS). The obstacles were addressed in the initial proof of concept, and the successful design was replicated in later installations.
Sgt. Chris Kovac, who oversaw the Lynwood IP video surveillance project, emphasizes that one of the most important factors in the success of a technology project is the selection of a vendor that has the skill and experience to accomplish what they promise.
In the Lynwood case, LASD put the project out for competitive bid. The successful bidder was Leverage Information Systems, a Washington-based company with an office in the area. Sgt. Kovac found that after the first installation, Leverage was able to replicate its initial design, which enabled Lynwood to expand its system easily.
Presently, all cameras are linked via a Firetide wireless mesh network to the Century Station dispatch center, where deputies can both view and control the cameras in real time. Although no one is assigned to continually monitor the cameras, the deputies use them as a response tool. They can later retrieve video to aid in criminal investigations. In fact, the IP video system is now a standard form of doing business in the city of Lynwood.”
Read the full article on Law Officer web site: Caught on Tape: How one agency used technology to slash crime.
For more information on LASD’s use of video mesh technology, see:
- LA County Sheriff’s Wireless Surveillance: Video Interview with SDN
- How Los Angeles deploys video surveillance (Interview with Sgt Chris Kovac at ASIS 2009)
- Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department ASAP Program Makes Streets Safer with Wireless Video Surveillance (Our announcement from 2008)