South Sioux City, NE

 

Vicon Industries Watches Over
South Sioux City

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South Siouz City, Nebraska integrates Vicon's ViconNet IP Video System with city-wide wireless internet to improve security and view video on-the-go.

South Sioux City, NE

When South Sioux City, Nebraska wanted to provide local police and the 911 emergency center remote monitoring of public and school district video cameras, it looked to Vicon’s ViconNet IP video solution. They had just implemented a city-wide wireless internet service, and when they found that the ViconNet system was totally compliant, they moved ahead with the installation.

“We are a very aggressive city,” says Lance Martin, Communications Director for South Sioux City. “We write a lot of grants and get funded for a lot of grants.” So when they received an ITEP (Information Technology Evaluation Program) grant through the Department of Homeland Security, they were experienced in how to handle things. “The reason we were funded for this was because we had already implemented a wireless system, because we had that infrastructure,” Martin says. The grant allowed them to use that infrastructure to benefit security in multiple venues from utilities to City Hall to local schools.

Building the Backbone

South Sioux City, NEIn fact, it was the city’s unique relationship with the local schools that started the whole thing.

“The typical jurisdiction and boundaries have blurred in our case,” Martin says. “The city and the schools partnered in the building of a major fiber-optic network.”

For their part, the city paid to implement a non-line-of-sight, city-wide wireless broadband system. “The traditional method is a line-of-sight,” Martin explains. “But you have to have a clear shot at the tower. With the technology we deployed, you can be completely blocked by a building and still receive a signal. That gave us city-wide coverage of about 30 square miles.”

The schools benefited from this project in two ways. First, the students could now get online from anywhere on campus. Second, the schools then implemented the ViconNet video system, which provided remote monitoring by the police from their dispatch center or their patrol cars.

“Because the schools had put in that video system and we had done the joint project, that gave the police department access to that video from their patrol cars,” Martin says. “The reason why we did it was specifically to respond to a Columbine-like incident. The ability for the police to be able to see inside the school is huge.”

Now, if an incident were to occur at the school, first responder officers could go in immediately, then be guided by command staff or later-arriving officers who could view the video. They could also inform teachers and staff where the safe areas of refuge were.

Homeland Security Applications

The city did not stop there. Once they had this infrastructure, they applied for and won the Homeland Security grant to be able to take this mobility to another level. When they wrote a bid spec for the grant project, which would include access control as well as video, Siemens Building Technology (Siemens) won the bid. Siemens worked with Vicon for the ViconNet portion of the project and helped implement this new technology in South Sioux City. Scott Kooistra, Siemen’s System Specialist worked closely with Lance Martin to integrate the wireless technology with Vicon’s IP video cameras. “ViconNet is a very user friendly application and an excellent tool for IP video applications”, Kooistra says. “Siemens was able to utilize South Sioux City’s wireless network while implementing ViconNet in 11 different locations. This included integration with card access and intrusion detection systems, which provided state of the art protection for these facilities.”

The final result included the ability to view the video across the city on any PC that was powered by ViconNet. Whether an individual was sitting in their office or a police officer was cruising on patrol, they could have access to live video.

Once they had the funding and the go-ahead, the city set about choosing which facilities to include. “We called a department head meeting and each one came up with a wish-list. We then tried to decide which applied to Homeland Security.”

Obviously, the schools, who participated in the grant with the city, were included. Even though their original equipment was not Vicon, they were able to integrate it to the ViconNet network. Through the grant they then added additional Vicon digital video recorders to augment the system.

“We are using the Vicon Kollector DVRs as well as pan-tilt-zoom dome cameras,” Martin says of the city-wide project. “We have three Vicon PTZ domes. One of them is mounted way up high on top of a water tower. It oversees a large swath of the interstate. We have another on highway 20 on an overpass. These are specifically for traffic monitoring. That’s where the information sharing piece of the project comes in. Sioux City, Nebraska has a great interest in seeing the video from our side. So we are offering up this video to the Iowa 911 center as well.” Between the city and the schools, there have been 130 cameras installed. The system has also become a training ground for SWAT teams in conjunction with local law enforcement.

Other recipients of the technology included City Hall, the public library, public works and the city/county law enforcement facility.

“We have water treatment plants with video both inside and outside recorded 24/7,” Martin says. “We also have electric substations we are monitoring. We have several cameras at City Hall. Where the clerks sit there are cameras, along with a panic button. If we have an incident, the video will record it. If the panic button is pressed, the 911 center has the ability to see that video.”

Moving Forward

“I’m very happy with the ViconNet software that allows us to view the video,” he says. “It is simple to use, powerful, and highly adjustable. And in the six months since the equipment was first installed, it has been working exactly as planned”, Martin reports. In fact, the mobility of the system even came in handy in the installation phase. “When we were installing the system, I would fire up the laptop in my truck and I would watch the video of the outdoor cameras while the other guy focused the camera,” Martin says. It has also proved effective in apprehending perpetrators.

South Sioux City, NE“Just about a week ago we had someone dial 911 and report gunfire at the train bridge along the Missouri River,” Martin says. “Police were dispatched, but they couldn’t find the individual. While the officer was in route, the 911 dispatcher pulled up the video and could see someone firing a gun at bottles, which is illegal. They were able to see where they went when the officer pulled up and guide the officer to that person.”

Martin has planned for future expansion of the system to include both better coverage and broader access for other city, county and state agencies.

“We are working on an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Roads to give them access to the cameras,” Martin says. “They have an interest in seeing traffic, so we are going to allow them to access the Vicon system.”

The city is also negotiating with a couple of large banks, so in the event of a robbery, police would be able to see what is going on inside.

Martin would also like to bring other law enforcement agencies the same mobile abilities the city police now have. “We currently only have city police vehicles equipped. I would like to equip state and county patrols with this technology.”

“I see it as an opportunity for a future grant.” For further information on Vicon Industries, please visit their website at www.vicon-security.com.