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Why Security Integrators are Becoming Police Departments’ New Best Friends

SIA Government Summit highlights how integrators are working with municipalities, such as the city of Santa Ana, to tie together video surveillance systems to help reduce crime and attract new residents.

Mickey McCarter

Santa Ana, the 11th largest city in California, was facing some challenges. It faced bankruptcy four years ago; its police force had only one officer per 2,000 residents; and until 2014 it suffered higher crime rates than the national average.

Otto Laufer, the Homeland Security Division project manager for the Santa Ana Police Department, began using federal homeland security grant funding to integrate 60 video camera systems around the city’s civic center. Laufer turned to other public institutions and got their buy-in for the project by offering to share the integrated feeds of the collected cameras.

“It worked better than expected,” said Laufer at the 2016 SIA Government Summit in Washington, D.C., during a panel presentation in June.

The police department then replicated the approach in the city’s downtown, forming a similar alliance with private businesses by sharing the integration of their individual video surveillance feeds at no cost.

By integrating the systems, Santa Ana PD helped to drive down crime and attract new residents to the core of the city. The integrated camera network automated processes and expanded awareness for the police department and its partners, which now include other cities as the municipalities cooperate to manage large-scale events.

Laufer emphasized that the project required an integrator partner. At the time, the police department turned to Siemens to upgrade its video surveillance systems. Another integrator, SureView Systems, became involved.

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Rob Hile, formerly with SureView but now general manager at Securadyne Systems, was on hand at the SIA Government Summit to discuss the integrator’s role.

“Your integrators are the conduit between manufacturers and your policies,” he said. “We are the ones who make it work and tie it all together.”

When the integrator began working with the Santa Ana PD, it spent “countless hours” learning the goals and objectives of the department, Hile said. SureView came prepared with an appropriate security approach. That approach involved denying other organizations access to the video surveillance network, which would have created vulnerabilities, he explained.

“If you don’t have an integrator that understands these technologies, you better run.”                            —Rob Hile, general manager of Securadyne Systems

Instead, Santa Ana produced a browser-based system that was properly secured with SSL, salted hash, and other security mechanisms. “If you don’t have an integrator that understands these technologies, you better run,” Hile said.

Clients also must restrict integrators in their access, he added, locking down ports and allowing access to integrators only when necessary. Brandon Reich, senior director of surveillance solutions at Pivot3, moderated the discussion at the SIA Government Summit while sharing some perspective on video surveillance data.

The landscape of video surveillance has been changing significantly, enabling organizations to find ways to show better returns on investments in security technology, he said.

Advancements in software-defined technology have promoted interoperability and enhanced scalability while reducing costs, Reich noted. Analysts predict the trend also will lead to disruption in the data storage market, which is a $40 billion annual market.

The amount of data generated by video surveillance systems in particular is exploding, with one key forecast projecting that IP video surveillance systems will generate more than 15 petabytes of data every day — three times more data than was being generated by those systems two years ago.

As such, the amount of generated data is now doubling every 18 months, Reich estimated. In the case of Santa Ana, the PD shares the cost of video surveillance across public and private partners, who still maintain their own individual cameras.

Of course, Hile noted, working with a group of organizations involves bringing different integrators together to cooperate. The role of the integrator becomes that of a customer advocate, where they press for the interests of their client in “coopetition” (cooperative competition) with other integrators, he said.

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