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Caught on Tape

 

You can’t watch the local news without seeing instances in which a picture tells a thousand words, capturing both criminals and good Samaritans in the act. And increasingly, government is finding that deploying IP cameras can showcase unimagined dividends.

 

You can’t watch the local news without seeing instances in which a picture tells a thousand words, capturing both criminals and good Samaritans in the act. And increasingly, government is finding that deploying IP cameras can showcase unimagined dividends.

IP cameras make sense for government because it’s not economically feasible to place cameras on a wired network everywhere agencies need them to be, says Adam Thermos, founder of Strategic Technology Group, a security consulting firm in Milford, Mass. “You can’t pull wires everywhere in a city,” Thermos says. “If you are looking for something low-budget, IP cameras are cost-effective. You can put a camera anywhere and run it over a wireless network.”

Take the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, for example. In addition to using IP cameras for crowd and traffic control during civic or sporting events, the Alabama agency’s cameras are equipped with night vision to keep watch as flood waters rise during storms. “Anytime you get a good picture of what’s happening,” says Emergency Management Coordinator Alan Kniphfer, “you can develop strategies and tactics to prevent loss of life and not waste resources and time.”

The San Antonio River Authority, too, relies on IP cameras for remote monitoring. “Operators during off-hours or on nights or weekends can monitor the equipment over IP cameras to make sure the pumps and aeration systems are working,” says Jordan Merson, a web administrator with the Texas agency.

Don Sarginson, a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, first worked with IP cameras in 2004 during Hurricane Charley, which slammed nearby Polk County.

After the hurricane, Sarginson and his team aided the recovery process and set up their cameras to guard the streets, particularly at a food and water distribution center. The team worried that sending sheriff’s deputies to the area would scare off illegal immigrants, who were waiting in line for supplies. Instead, Sarginson watched the action from a command center several blocks away, ensuring that no fights broke out and that no one was stealing supplies.

“The illegal immigrant population is typically leery of all police officers, but arresting illegals was the last thing on our minds. We just wanted to make sure everyone got the emergency services that they needed,” he recalls. “So we had the ability to dispatch help — maybe send in a rescue worker or social worker — without law enforcement having to be there.”

Our cover story on Page 22 details the steps Sarginson is taking to ensure that this year’s Super Bowl is safe. With IP cameras in place, fans can enjoy the game without an excessive police presence.

Lee Copeland, Editor in Chief
leecop@cdw.com

Jan 15 2009

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