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GCN : August 2013
GCN AUGUST 2013 • GCN.COM 27 as around the mall and the parade route (the exact locations were not disclosed) to provide detailed real-time images of the activities. "The inauguration gave us a living lab experience to put the equipment through its paces," Mulholland said. "We were thrilled to see that the cameras performed above our expectations." The new equipment, model Q6035-E and Q6032-E pan-tilt-zoom cameras, were used together with Axis cameras the Park Police already had and with cameras from other agencies, including the Secret Ser- vice, that pooled resources for the event. They delivered IP video feeds for real-time monitoring and were also sent to servers for storage and analysis. They could be controlled remotely to focus on up to 100 preset positions or to pan through 360 de- grees and tilt through 220 degrees. "One significant difference was the re- sponsiveness to commands," Mulholland said. The cameras moved to position and focused more quickly than earlier models. The difference often was only about a sec- ond, "but that second could be the second that makes the difference." The biggest difference in the new gen- eration of cameras was performance in low light, however. The cameras are for use during the day or night, but as light dims the images go from color to black and white to provide more detail in darker conditions. "The new cameras held their color in low-light situations far longer," he said. "The ability to see in color could be a critical factor." Axis, which made its first IP network camera in 1996, has been producing high- definition cameras since 2008. Megapixel imaging and high-quality optics allow the cameras to zoom in on objects more than a mile away, enabling observers to iden- tify individuals and small objects and read text. A license plate can be legible in the image from as far away as 900 feet. "This was a feature the Park Police wanted to take advantage of," said Rick Rabell, an Axis field sales engineer who helped with the inaugural installations. The Q6035 camera has a 20X optical zoom and the 3 megapixel image allows an additional 12X digital zoom to pin- point details. The Q6032 has a 36X opti- cal and a 12X digital zoom. The cameras also have video motion detection and au- totracking, and an Application Program- ming Interface lets users add their own software for additional programming and analysis. The cameras can provide "It's basically a computer with a lens. It's a network device." --- RICK RABELL, AXIS COMMUNICATIONS they still need reliable network connections. Tactical cameras set up temporarily often do not have a fixed infrastructure available for backhaul. During the inauguration, all of the Park Police cameras relied on cellular connections. This can be adequate when it is available, but during an event at which hundreds of thousands of people in a small area are calling, tweet- ing, texting and Facebooking at the same time, cellular systems are quickly overloaded. The Park Police used directional antennas with its Axis cameras, pointing to cell towers outside the event zone, some as far as two-and-a-half miles away. An omnidirectional antenna will simply lock onto the nearest cell, which is likely to be overwhelmed when it is needed most. Get help. Find a vendor that will work with you when deploying a video system, at least until you are familiar with the equipment. "We are a homegrown shop," Mulholland said of Park Police technology services. "We are self-taught." But as video equipment becomes better and more sophisticated, it becomes more complex. "The days of take it out of the box, read the handbook and hope for the best are over." When the Park Police bought five new cameras from Axis Communications, the company sent out a team of engineers who helped get them set up and in place. The cameras themselves were not neces- sarily complex to set up and operate, but much of the work had to be done at the last minute with constantly changing plans and there was little time to get up to speed with new equipment. "Our folks walked away much more capable," Mulholland said. "I would make this one of the criteria in deciding what to purchase." Share the learning experience. Axis engineers provided a wealth of informa- tion about the high-end cameras being deployed, from which the U.S. Park Police benefited, Mul- holland said. "If I were to do it again, I would include other area law enforcement partners" in the experience. Vendors probably will not be able to field engineering teams for every deployment by every customer, so let as many interested parties as possible take advantage of them when they are available. One of the reasons companies are willing to send their technical people into the field is because the company also can learn from the real-world experience of its customers. Leverag- ing those opportunities can be a win for both parties. --- William Jackson 3 4