By Mae Kowalke
Video surveillance is one technology that law enforcement officials increasingly rely on use to protect public safety. But, traditional hardwired systems are expensive, time-consuming to set up, and often produce unreliable results.
As an alternative, agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere are turning to 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks for the creation, deployment and expansion of sophisticated video surveillance networks.
A good example is Polícia de Estado de So Paulo (São Paulo State Military Police)—the agency charged with crime prevention, order maintenance, traffic control, and firefighting in Brazil’s most populous state. As highlighted in a recent article in the Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) e-zine LifeTalk, it has been experimenting with an ALU supplied LTE network.
Polícia Militar has a force of more than 100,000 police officers, covering the 96,000 square mile state with a population of 41 million (more than California). The agency uses video surveillance to efficiently and effectively prevent crime.
Colonel Alfredo Deak Jr., who oversees the agency’s telecommunications system, stated in the article that, “Even with 100,000 police officers, the police cannot be everywhere and see everything, all the time…The presence of overt video surveillance… provides a sense of security for São Paulo’s citizens, who see the police cameras and know there is someone operating and monitoring it proactively.”
Two problems with traditional hardwired video surveillance networks have hindered the speed at which they could be deployed and their effectiveness in São Paulo: bureaucracy and cost. As the article details, there is so much red tape associated with setting up a hardwired network in Sao Paulo that it can take 6-9 months to install a surveillance camera. In addition, non-LTE video cameras installed on the street cost, on average, 55,000 Brazilian reals ($29,270) each. By comparison, the total installation cost of LTE cameras is five times less at roughly 10,000 Reals ($5,322).
“LTE is a tool that allows efficient communications redundancy for applications such as video surveillance,” Deak said in the article. “It allows me to use my APCO 25 system towers which support my mission critical voice communication network with much less cost.”
Redundancy built into the LTE network means Polícia Militar is able to cost-effectively keep video surveillance monitoring up in all areas, by swapping out one tower for another to cover a specific region. The result has been that in Sao Paulo, the LTE network has transformed video surveillance into a much more powerful and versatile tool.
Deak said the video surveillance network is especially useful during disaster and emergency situations. It enables police officers on the scene, and those directing operations remotely, to communicate more efficiently and respond more effectively. Deak illustrated this by saying, “A real-time video image allows the commander to see what is happening with his own eyes, from multiple perspectives, and apply his own experience and training to that scenario.” He also praised the power of dual band and talk-to-talk broadband capabilities for allowing responders to communicate in hostile environments.
Polícia Militar also uses intelligence from video surveillance to prevent excessive use of force.
“The intensive use of intelligence to prevent the intensive use of force,” Deak explained. “The more intelligence and the more the police officer is prepared, the more information and knowledge he has about an emergency, the less force he will use to protect himself and the citizen.”
Deak said two types of activities tend to reduce crime: approaching suspicious persons, and removing alcohol, drugs and weapons from circulation. Video surveillance is a powerful tool that effort.
The LTE trial in Sao Paulo also addresses another requirement: the ability to buy technology form local vendors that builds on, rather than replaces, existing infrastructure. The LTE trial… has drawn the Polícia Militar and Alcatel-Lucent together with a focus on allowing the adaptation of our existing tablets, of our equipment, of our current software to the infrastructure provided by the trial,” Deak noted. “It is most important to allow Brazilian industry to begin to create devices for it.”
It is no secret that vigilance, especially when bad actors know they are being watched, is an extremely strong deterrent to crime, as well as being a critical component of effective emergency preparedness and response. The ability to provide high-bandwidth, secure, reliable communications for video surveillance over LTE wireless give law enforcement agencies not just the capabilities and coverage they require, but at a price/performance that is superior to wired alternatives.