DNA Sensormatic - the power behind urban surveillance

May 2000 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

DNA Sensormatic, the southern African agent for US-based Sensormatic Electronics Corporation, is one of the key powerhouses behind the technology forming the backbone of the newly introduced Johannesburg urban surveillance project.

The Johannesburg project follows the success of a similar system in Cape Town. The first phase of this long-awaited project has started with 12 strategically located state-of-the-art cameras between Park Station and the Carlton Centre. With the potential of multiple footprints ultimately monitoring most of Johannesburg's streets, this could become one of the most extensive public area surveillance projects in the world.

Cape Town CBD sets the tone

Sensormatic has been involved with urban surveillance for some years, initially sponsoring trial camera systems for the Cape Town Olympic Bid in collaboration with Business Against Crime (BAC). Starting with a twelve camera pilot project in 1998, Sensormatic subsequently secured the tender to install the entire electronic security system for Cape Town CBD surveillance in 1999.

Advanced CCTV technology

The Johannesburg cameras will be housed in domes. They feature enhanced low-light capability, enabling the identification of suspects in the gloomiest of conditions. The cameras can swivel through 360° and zoom up to 2 km. Images will be transferred by fibre optic cabling to a control centre, staffed 24 h/day by specially trained operators. The cameras will be able to operate on a 'track and trace' basis, due to their strategic positioning. This means that the viewing field of any one camera will be shared by another, so that virtually every incident can be covered from two different angles.

Immediate response the goal

The control centre will be in radio contact with foot and vehicle patrols of the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies able to respond instantly to incidents or even suspicious behaviour.

Methodology, technology and expertise

Richard Pople, DNA Sensormatic CEO says the company's strength in urban surveillance is based on three pillars. "The first is methodology. We have developed sophisticated modelling that determines where cameras should be positioned for optimum effectiveness. These models have had to be unique in order to overcome the many specialised crime problems we face in our country.

"Secondly, being able to draw on the technology base of our parent company in the USA, widely acknowledged as the most advanced in the world.

"Thirdly, we have developed expertise in installation through various large projects as well as the successful Cape Town experience."

Pople says the most critical success factor in urban surveillance is the integration of all the sub-systems into one working unit. What this means is that every factor - whether it be the major equipment, documentation, operators, maintainers or logistic support components such as spares and test equipment - all measure up as a complete system. The mission-performing equipment is but one of the gears making the engine run.

"We believe that the expertise within DNA Sensormatic to design, project manage, install, commission and maintain such a system is un-paralleled in Southern Africa" adds Pople.

John Penberthy, MD of BAC Western Cape, is driving BAC surveillance projects nationwide. "We have been very careful to select the best technology available to ensure that the system acts as an effective deterrent to crime and that footage of incidents will stand up to the most rigorous tests in court," he says.

The control room and equipment

The control room monitors capturing suspect activity are of high resolution, enabling well-trained operators to view their area of responsibility at a glance. A secure equipment room houses a powerful video matrix system and the video recording devices. Images from every camera are constantly and automatically recorded without requiring any operator intervention.

The system has a unique configuration of primary and secondary video recorders that automatically switch between the two when a tape reaches the end or malfunctions. An analog record is kept for long-term storage, whereas a networked digital recording system allows for the capturing of all events in real-time, international broadcast standard. The digital recording system is run from a supervisor station where crime situations can immediately be reviewed from any of the recorders and transferred onto compact disc to be used in court action if required.

DNA Sensormatic is part of the DNA Supply Chain group, the JSE-listed Fourth Dimension Logistics service provider. DNA focuses on optimising the efficiency and security of customers' supply chains.

For details contact DNA Sensormatic's CEO Richard Pople on tel: (021) 559 4425 or visit www.sensormatic.com

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