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GCN : August 2013
26 GCN AUGUST 2013 • GCN.COM The U.S. Park Police saw the need for better sur- veillance technology when an estimated 1.4 million people flocked to the National Mall in 2009 to watch newly elected Barack Obama be sworn in as president. "We expected the crowd to be big, but we had no idea how big," said Dave Mulholland, com- mander of technology services for the U.S. Park Police. The Park Police are respon- sible for securing public spaces in Washington, including the National Mall, and the record crowds from four years ago helped to establish the techno- logical support needed to police major events in an area stretch- ing more than two miles from the Capitol Building to the Potomac River. Mulholland said the depart- ment deployed a lot of assets for the 2009 inauguration, including an array of video surveillance cameras. "But we found that we could use more," he said. The Park Police has since up- graded its technology with a new generation of IP network cameras that have helped it and other agencies keep an eye on the crowds during big events, such as this year's inauguration, where the crowd was smaller than four years ago, but still large. The department worked with Axis Communications to deploy five new high-definition camer- Crowds for the 2013 inauguration tested their ability to secure a large public event, but advances in high definition networked video cameras brought them up to the task. PARK POLICE ZOOM IN ON CROWD SURVEILLANCE AT MALL NETWORKING CASE STUDY BY WILLIAM JACKSON 4 TIPS FOR BETTER TACTICAL VIDEO SURVEILLANCE The U.S. Park Police learned some valu- able lessons during this year s presidential inauguration. Arranging security for a presidential inauguration is a complex job involving cooperation between multiple law enforce- ment agencies and the private sector. "The process involves partnerships on many fronts," said Dave Mulholland, commander of technology services for the U.S. Park Police. His department worked with other local and federal law enforce- ment agencies, as well as the Secret Service, during this year s presidential inauguration. Setting up a tactical IP video surveillance system also required access to private property, with all of the legal and technical complications that entails. "Plans change at the last minute," Mulholland said. "We had to scramble to figure out alternate plans." In such an undertaking, "you need to expect there will be issues, even under the best of circumstances." Mulholland offered several lessons from this year s inauguration for coping with issues when deploying video surveillance for a high-security environment. Keep the command simple. Maintain a single, centralized point of control for all cameras. Otherwise, you might find yourself fighting to get the video images you need. The Park Police put controls for its cameras at the 2013 inauguration in the three Multi-agency Control Centers. "With only three people, how challenging could it be?" Mulholland said. "We learned. We got into control wars," with di erent people calling for di erent views of events from the cameras. When one team is trying to focus on a specific problem, precious time can be lost if someone in a different location points the camera somewhere else. All commands need to go through a single clearinghouse. Network cameras are no good without bandwidth. "The camera is only as good as the images you get back," Mulholland said. Modern cameras can provide high-definition images at relatively low bit rates, but 1 2