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Police Access City Cameras from Laptops and Smartphones

Sandy Springs, Ga., Police Department uses open architecture to integrate solutions from various vendors to improve public safety.

by / June 28, 2011
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Officers of the Sandy Springs, Ga., Police Department will soon be able to use laptops and smartphones to browse and view video from various cameras located around the city.

The project, which uses a software platform with a Google Maps interface, is part of the Police Department’s initiative to integrate technology from multiple vendors into one system. The department is currently in the process of integrating its computer-aided dispatch system, automatic vehicle locators and in-car police video cameras into the overall infrastructure.

Authorized users will be able to view live and recorded footage from the city cameras by clicking on their location points on the Google map. For each camera, users will have the ability to pan, tilt and zoom, according to the department.

Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sult said the camera access will provide officers a view of an area — particularly parking lots — that’s better than what a single officer in a squad car could obtain. 

“Typically the officer can be out there and he would patrol the area and from the car level, he can only see certain things,” Sult said. “But from the car, if he’s looking at a camera that is fixed on top of a building looking at all of the area, now he can see the entire parking lot.”

The department is procuring the camera access technology through a partnership with Iron Sky, a Katy, Texas-based video surveillance vendor, and partnered with L-3 Communications for the wireless capability. Sult said the core integration cost with Iron Sky is $189,000, which is being funded through the department’s forfeiture funds.

While the Police Department is in the process of setting up the camera infrastructure, it is leveraging partnerships with other vendors besides Iron Sky to pay for additional camera assets associated with the infrastructure, Sult said.

From a separate vendor, the department is looking into procuring body cameras that police officers wear. Sult said the department relies on procuring technology that can integrate with products from other vendors. “We mandate an open architecture,” Sult said. “In other words, we want you to play well with other vendors or we won’t do business with you.”

The Police Department looked to other cities, such as Chicago and Houston, for possible ideas on how to best utilize the cameras, Sult said.

Last year, 189 intersections in Chicago were equipped with red-light cameras, according to the city’s website. And other cities have implemented camera technology similar to Sandy Springs’ model.

Earlier this year, the Canton, Ohio, Police Department purchased eight surveillance cameras that were placed around the city. With a user name and password, police officers can log on to view the live video feeds. 

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Sarah Rich

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. She wrote for for Government Technology magazine from 2010 through 2013.

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