Communications Spotlight

...Worth a thousand words

The best view at a rock concert

Is your city having a parade, demonstration or even an art and wine festival? Do you need to provide security? Would you like to have a 360-degree view of the venue from a central location? One township in central New Jersey is utilizing mobile mesh networks to provide video surveillance during major events, drug raids and day-to-day incidents.

The Lakewood (New Jersey) Police Department recently deployed the state's first 4.9-GHz broadband mobile mesh network for enhanced communications and video surveillance during a music festival.

PacketHop, a provider of mobile-mesh broadband WiFi communications systems and mesh-enabled video surveillance platforms located in Redwood City, California, worked with the Lakewood PD to deploy a broadband, wireless communications and video surveillance system at Wingstock 2006 — a music festival held at the township's First Energy minor league baseball park. The event, held last fall, attracted more than 6,000 attendees and featured music performances, food concessions, a vendor village and an amusement park. Lakewood deployed the video surveillance network around the venue to improve security, communications and resource coordination.

The mobile mesh network enabled officers to communicate and share video and tactical information more efficiently. Police cruisers were strategically positioned around the event using GPS resource tracking, whiteboarding and multimedia instant messaging applications. Each police cruiser contained a video camera and laptop.

An unmanned police cruiser was positioned at a major intersection prone to accidents outside the park. It enabled real-time video surveillance of the intersection, reduced the number of speeding cars and improved officer utilization. Another police cruiser was positioned to provide surveillance of police canine units checking attendees for explosives. Two police cruisers patrolled the parking lot outside First Energy Park providing real-time video surveillance. A laptop and camera were placed above the park to provide real-time video of the crowd in front of the concert's main stage. Several police cruisers were also positioned at First Energy Park's main entrances and exits to provide surveillance and manage the flow of attendees entering and exiting the park.

All of the video feeds were simultaneously streamed to each of the police officers over the 4.9-GHz mobile mesh network and to the command post. This provided incident commanders with a more comprehensive and real-time view of the event from a single location, and enabled them to better coordinate officers in the field.

Patrol and tactical applications for video

Beyond special events like Wingstock 2006, the Lakewood PD also is using video to support a variety of tactical operations, including:

  • Field line-ups (perpetrator ID): When identifying a suspect after a mugging, for example, instead of driving a victim to confront the suspect, video frames can be wirelessly transmitted to another location, enabling the victim to remotely identify the suspect.
  • Traffic pursuit across towns: Video during a vehicle pursuit, as well as GPS location tracking, can be shared among officers and incident commanders, essentially putting them "in the passenger seat."
  • Pre-strike location surveillance: Prior to tactical operations — like a drug raid — officers can easily deploy a remote, unmanned video surveillance system to monitor a location, assess activities and develop a plan.
  • Traffic monitoring: Video from vehicles — or from remote mounted cameras — can help identify traffic problems and develop detours or assign officers for traffic control.
  • Virtual back-up (e.g. traffic stops): Video from patrol cars can be relayed to support vehicles and the scene commander, improving officer safety.
  • Vehicle or suspect identification: Video imagery from one camera can be relayed to others to help determine if an individual is wanted for a crime or if a vehicle is stolen, for example.
  • Public/private partnerships: Officers can connect to other video networks at local businesses and schools to validate alarms or assess situations inside buildings, enhancing both public and officer safety, and improving the ability to strategize solutions.
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