Richmond, California, has battled violent crime and vandalism in its downtown and neighborhoods for years. Even with Richmond’s residential property market on the climb and the local economy shifting toward high-tech and light industry, crime has persisted in this East Bay port community of 103,000 just north of Berkeley. A couple of years ago, concerned citizens began appealing to the city council to consider deploying a public security camera system for Richmond’s crime hotspots.  They hoped this resolution would reduce the crime rate and thwart graffiti and illegal dumping of garbage along the route to a fee-based waste transfer station.

"We wanted to see how technology could help us solve problems that have existed for quite some time here and across the city.”, said City Manager Bill Lindsay at a media event hosted by Tyco Integrated Security, the city’s partner on its new network.

As one of its first steps the city released an RFQ, to review the technology, how it could meet the city’s needs and also examine cost, said Janet Schneider, Assistant City Manager. “Citizens came to the city council and requested cameras,” Schneider said. “We had thought about surveillance as a promising solution, and we sought design input.”

Selecting Tyco Integrated Security 

The City selected Tyco to install a wireless video and analytics system in the crime-heavy areas of the 56 square-mile city. As a result of cost considerations, the $1.8-million network, paid for by the city’s General Capital and North Richmond Waste and Recovery Mitigation Funds, is not (at this time) a citywide solution intended to provide global broadband-wireless access for government workers or residents.

“We had to take them through the numbers; is this what they wanted for the price?” said Jeff Gutierrez, a Tyco Integrated Security national accounts manager and project engineer who led the company's response to the RFQ. “The city couldn’t afford a full mesh network. It’s meant to support the cameras.” Tyco Integrated Security project managers proposed a multi-million dollar offer for a global mesh network, Gutierrez said, but this was beyond the city’s reach.

“People were surprised at the cost,” Lindsay said. The city’s Capital Improvement Plan (FY2007-2008 through FY2011-2012) requests an additional $750,000 “for each subsequent year, bringing the 5-year cost to $4,5 million to cover other citywide security requirements.” When complete, BelAir 100 and 200 point-to-point and point-to-multipoint units would feed IP video.

Finding A Solution

The system supplied imagery from 34 cameras (20 fixed and 14 pan-tilt-zoom) to backhaul locations in the northern and southern parts of the city as well as the top of the Richmond Civic Center, where data will then travel by fiber to the police dispatch center in the city’s Hall of Justice.

Richmond police may access the network over the 4.9-GHz band, and public works over the 2.4 GHz band at the access points around the city. At the southern end of a Nicholl Park in the city center the tree-line was cut back to enable line-of-site between BelAir nodes, crucial for fine-tune a network that rests far above the sidewalks. Approval from PG&E for use of telephone poles was a drawn out process, and clearance was only recently forthcoming, Tyco's Gutierrez said.

“The era of somebody with a cup of coffee sitting in front of a screen are gone. That’s why the analytics are great.” Lindsay said. At the same time, a citizen oversight committee is charged with designing protocols for how this monitoring is conducted over the network. The ACLU appeared at city council meetings, and was invited to participate in the committee. “You have the ability to write a rule as well as to change it.” Schneider said. “The analytics are intended to get someone’s attention, and you’ll see a lot of false alarms,” said Nick Samanich, Tyco Integrated Security’s Director of Public Sector Partnering.

Tyco Integrated Security has also deployed projects in Greenville, South Carolina, as well as an urban enterprise zone in Jersey City, New Jersey. Phase 2 in Richmond is expected to include mobile content delivery back to police cruisers and increased camera footprints. While it’s early to study the impact of the network, it is hoped that the cameras will reduce officer response times and, over the long haul, improve quality of life in Richmond.

“One year from now, we will have an idea of the impact of this network,” Lindsay said. “It’s an arrow in the quiver. It’s a tool. Crime keeps the city from reaching its potential, which is outstanding.” Port of Richmond Secure Perimeter is nine miles east of the Golden Gate Bridge. It unloads Kia and Hyundai cars as well as liquid bulk and is the 22nd largest port in the country in terms of imports. The 100-year-old Port of Richmond also boasts a 15-mile perimeter, is serviced by four nearby rail lines and is home to 10 terminals, 5 owned by the city and 10 by private companies.

As the City of Richmond began exploring possibilities with prospective vendors for its network, the Port, which needed its own surveillance system to stop theft and increase security, began attending the city’s Q&A sessions to see whether it might want to follow the City’s network design and architecture.

The Result

Both the federal and state government support a video surveillance system at the Port to do perimeter intrusion detection and serve as a deterrent to terrorism. Burglars have dug up copper wire at the Port and stolen cars. While the Port was considering fiber, the amount required and the cost of trenching was prohibitive. Wireless emerged as the solution that fit the Port's price pocket. The network of 82 fixed and pan-tilt-zoom cameras was completed successfully, as mandated by a multi-million dollar grant from the Department of Homeland Security’s Infrastructure Protection Program. The Port’s PZT cameras can zoom up to one mile and are linked by 31 BelAir 100 and 200 nodes, which are backhauled by BridgeWave wireless bridges to the roof of the administration building. The 1GB of backhaul also provides plenty of expansion capability.

Analytics at the Port include virtual trip wires. Whether it is an intruder jumping the fence, or an individual loitering in the same place for 10 or 20 seconds an alarm can be triggeredto alert the administration building, but a human being decides whether police are called. If the alarm isn’t responded to, it can be escalated up a hierarchy depending on its severity. Similar to the City, the Port is developing the rules and limitations of its analytics, such as where the virtual trip wires would rest.

The analytics at the Port are based in a server in the administration building. “Edge analytics weren’t ready at the time of the Port’s RFI,” explained Tyco's Jeff Gutierrez. “It’s best to have it at a single location, and I’m happy with this decision.” The DHS and US Coast Guard will eventually be able to access the feeds. The network does not monitor the 19 million short tons of cargo that pass through the Port each year. The City and Port’s systems are not linked, but have the capability to be.

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