San Luis Potosi, Mexico, the eponymous capital of the state of San Luis Potosí, has a population of nearly 1 million, located about 200 miles from Mexico City. Along with its industrial roots, San Luis Potosi is promoted as a tourist destination by the Mexican government. But along with tourists, the capitol city has also attracted a not so wanted rise in criminality
Like any populous city, San Luis Potosi includes the usual number of car thieves, pick-pockets and street crime. To combat behavior likely to hurt newfound tourist income, the city government turned to Cisco and a technology already used in the U.S.: mesh wireless surveillance cameras.
“Video surveillance is a force multiplier for the municipal public security strategy, because it improves the efficiency and effectiveness of field officers. It enables an early assessment of the situation and makes decisions more fundamental to send forces to the scene, “ Richard Galindo Ceballos, IT Director for the San Luis Potosi Department of Public Safety, said in a Cisco case study.
Hendon Publishing, a firm producing publications and conferences for the law enforcement community, quotes a former member of Cisco’s Government Solutions Group, J.R. Fuller: “Each camera gave the equivalent security of three officers out on the street.”
Cisco refused to comment on the Mexico surveillance project, telling Global Delivery Report that the issue was “sensitive.” Cisco and other U.S. tech companies have been criticized amid revelations that the US NSA has been spying on citizens and foreigners alike. Mexican voters are also debating proposed legislation easing restrictions against government surveillance in order to step up the fight against crime.
The wireless surveillance system installed by Cisco includes its own Video Surveillance Manager to handle video streams that can either be archived or sent directly to a control center. There, real-time operators can send officers or take further action, according to the company’s report.
The wireless system includes two microwave layers: a 4.9 GHz backbone public safety channel to handle the video stream and a 2.4 GHz channel connecting the camera to other devices, such as phones or tablets.
Cisco’s partner in the San Luis Potosi surveillance project, was U.S. defense contractor L3 Communications. Its Praetorian Intelligent Surveillance software, deployed on drones over Afghanistan or on utility poles overlooking the streets of a city, automates many of the functions that could overwhelm human operators.
Video surveillance is a force multiplier for the municipal public security strategy, because it improves the efficiency and effectiveness of field officers.
To follow suspect, video scenes from numerous cameras can be “stitched together,” providing local law enforcement with a panoramic view of a city. Praetorian also includes “Hawk,” a system that maps a city, then allowing operators to follow a suspect block-by-block.
Other features of the system Cisco put together include the ability to read a vehicle license plate and looking for specific actions that could indicate criminal behavior. For instance, a package left behind in a subway might alert a control center to send officers. Also, a car double-parked could indicate a robbery.
In the case of video surveillance of subways, Cisco provides the example of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or DART. More than 1700 Cisco IP Cameras are used within 58 light rail stations. “Video Surveillance Manager 7 and the Cisco IP cameras are able to help improve the manage of the DART police and operations and deliver more intelligence, achieve situational awareness for centralized video monitoring and connect mobile and fixed mobile platforms for buses and fleets,” according to a statement provided Global Delivery Report.
According to Jimmy Palatsoukas, senior product marketing manager at Canadian-based Genetec, the key crime-fighting weapon wireless surveillance cameras provide is deterrence.
Cebollas seems to agree, telling Cisco: “The video surveillance system performs three functions: the first is deterring crime, secondly, people feel safer, and thirdly, it provides evidence when a crime is committed in order to identify those responsible.”
What’s next for the Cisco wireless surveillance system? The company expects to extend the number of cameras in use, an advantage of wireless, as well as sending video directly to officers in the field. Another feature on the horizon: developing a geo-fence of San Luis Potosi, alerting law enforcement when someone enters or exits specified geographic zones.
Headline Photo Credit: “San luis” by DIbra – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:San_luis.jpg#mediaviewer/File:San_luis.jpg