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High Puerto Rico conviction rate with Firetide wireless network

Firetide : 16 September, 2008  (Application Story)
Evidence grade video images delivered over wireless surveillance network results in increase in convictions in Puerto Rican city
In the fight against drug-related crime, the mayor of Bayamon, Puerto Rico's second largest city, deployed a video surveillance system that has achieved 94 convictions. The three-year urban renewal program was recently expanded to troubled, remote parts of the city thanks to Firetide's wireless network that connects surveillance cameras to a central command centre. In addition to helping get convictions, the video system allows officers to intervene before a crime is committed an average of 62 times per month. Bonneville Construction, SE installed cameras that combat inner-city crime, and the system has led to considerable cost savings for police, court and prison systems in Puerto Rico.

"It's not the cameras themselves that have a deterring effect on crime, but the fact that they produce evidence-grade video," said municipal police commissioner Captain Edwin Rosado. "That's why we wanted to extend this project to new areas using a reliable wireless network. Bonneville Construction's implementation of Firetide wireless mesh made the latest expansion feasible."

Most of Bayamon's 94 cases went to trial and the evidence-grade surveillance video helped the public prosecutor get convictions. More recently, a growing number of cases have not gone to trial because the accused admits to the crime after seeing video evidence. This trend has led to an unexpected cost savings for the court and prison systems.

"Everyone in Puerto Rico knows about the system and its reputation for impeccable credibility," said Hector Sanchez, head of business development at Bonneville Construction, SE. "Firetide has enabled us to extend the surveillance system to neighbourhoods outside of the downtown area because this wireless network is practically as reliable as a fibre infrastructure, but a lot less expensive."

On a hurricane prone island like Puerto Rico, fibre optic cable installed above ground is not recommended and buried fibre is very expensive. A benefit of Firetide's equipment is that it can be taken down quickly before a hurricane. Another reason for choosing this wireless solution was the speed of deployment. Fifteen new cameras were installed in a couple of weeks, whereas with fibre optics it takes months to apply for the permits to trench the streets and obtain permission from land owners.

Bayamon law enforcement is currently planning the next phase of the video surveillance system. Once budgets are approved, police cars will be outfitted with wireless mesh nodes to allow officers to send and receive video between their patrol cars and the security command station.

"The plan to use mesh nodes to create a network for video streams to and from squad cars helped drive the decision to work with Firetide," explained Sanchez. "I have not seen any other wireless network that can do what Firetide's network can."

Bayamon's high conviction rate with video is in part due to the department's chain-of-custody procedures for video. Digital evidence receives the same strict security as physical evidence. To increase court room credibility, one expert investigator is assigned to collect, store and testify in all video surveillance evidence cases. When a crime is captured, the footage is moved to an evidence server and maintained by the video evidence expert.

The city of Bayamon recently doubled its video surveillance system to 170 cameras from the three-year-old, 84 camera fibre-optic deployment. The system now uses 130 Pelco cameras, mostly Spectra dome systems and some Esprit positioning systems, as well as Verint fixed IP cameras that sit on both fibre and Firetide wireless mesh nodes. All the video feeds are received by a central operations centre running software by Verint.

Stations are manned by civilian monitors overseen by state police. Video resolutions are 15 and 30 frames per second. The video is saved for one year. The entire network, including the operations centre, cost $2.6 million. Bayamon is home to approximately 250,000 residents located in 45 square miles.

"On the streets of Bayamon, car thefts, muggings, drugs dealing, and vandalism have been a real problem," said Bo Larsson, chief executive officer of Firetide. "The fact that our wireless networks can place surveillance cameras in remote locations is crucial for public safety agencies whether they are looking to revitalize urban areas or prevent and prosecute crime. An increasing number of municipalities - large and small - find that a wireless infrastructure based on Firetide mesh is imperative for successful public safety networks."
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