Synectics technology is integral to the security of Durban’s CBD.
A city with over three million people, Durban is also the home of Africa’s busiest port. As the city has developed, key to the safety and security of its residents has been a Synectics-based electronic surveillance network.
CCTV cameras were first used in the city in the mid-1970s, to monitor traffic through the increasingly busy city centre. Using a basic black-and-white camera infrastructure, this successful scheme continued until 1995, when observing the abilities of the cameras to assist with traffic issues, Durban authorities felt the existing cameras could benefit from an additional surveillance network, to address the safety and security issues that were becoming apparent throughout the city.
In 1998, Lumi Marcu, now senior manager of CCTV Video and Fibre System for the Durban authority began a programme to reconsider the switching and control of the rapidly expanding surveillance network to ensure its technical ability, and the future expandability of the system. “We discussed the replacement of the camera matrix with a number of leading manufacturers,” explains Marcu. “We selected Synectics over others due to the support we received from their technical and sales staff during the specification period of the upgrade, and also Synectics’ commitment to the integration of third-party devices – a vital element as our piecemeal system consisted of a wide variety of camera types, and from a number of different manufacturers.”
Synectics technology is key
“Synectics was also the only manufacturer who could provide the dual control we required from our camera network. Their modular approach to system functionality and SynergyPro Command and Control software meant all cameras, regardless of their function, location, or manufacturer, could be controlled from both the Durban Traffic control room and the Public Space control room, allied to descending control priorities applicable in a variety of situations.”
With the system now consisting of multiple Synectics Synergy workstations, 288 TB of Synectics MDRS recording and a Synectics Tesseract SL 512x256 switching matrix, the Durban authorities harnessed the inherent expandability of the Synectics-based network to full effect, extending camera coverage to cover both additional areas of the city, and additional townships in the area – all transmitted back to the central Durban control room.
Today, the control room boasts 29 Synergy positions, manned 24-hours a day by officers, each specialising in the geographical region of their camera locations. Camera coverage now extends to all parts of the City of Durban, including uShaka Marine World and the popular beach front, tourist districts such as Wilson’s Wharf on the Victoria Embankment, and the Grey Street and Warwick Triangle areas that boast vibrant local shops and markets. “We enjoy fantastic coverage of all key parts of the city from our control room,” continues Marcu. “Thanks to our latest version of Synectics’ SynergyPro and a recent upgrade to Synectics H.264 recording technology, we are adding the latest IP camera technology directly to our network.
Analogue cameras can also be connected to the system by converting the analogue video signal to IP at the control room via E800 encoders. The same analogue signal can also be converted at each camera location, via Synectics’ new e100 video encoder H.264 compression technology. Images are then transmitted to the control room via a network of underground fibre cables that provide the transmission backbone of the surveillance transmission.
Protecting the community
Durban’s operators often capture incidents right from their inception. When a developing situation is noted, operators use SynergyPro’s Incident (in progress) feature to instantly enable the tracking of live events on-screen, via their personal spot monitors and the control room’s large video wall; automatically creating a fully documented audit trail of any incident. The Incident feature also locks-out other operators from using a specific live camera during a tracked event, therefore avoiding any camera vital to the tracking of an incident suddenly being commandeered to focus on a traffic junction or returning to a pre-programmed PTZ tour. The date, along with start and finish time for each event is stored automatically within the evidential video created, and tagged with a full audit trail of information, indexed to the operator’s initials. This allows the Durban team to be confident that when tracking events, their actions are being recorded and fully documented for future reference and evidential purposes.
Economical image archiving
Recording all of the system’s 300 cameras, 24-hours a day required a powerful solution, one that was met with the deployment of Synectics’s Modular Digital Recording System (MDRS) review client technology. This provides instant access to the valuable camera images, as well as easily downloadable evidence to other media, for police review or presentation in court.
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