Keeping courts secure

April 2011 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Government and Parastatal (Industry)

Dallmeier secures 120 court buildings in South Africa.

More than 120 court buildings across South Africa will each be equipped with a comprehensive security system. Reliability, easy maintenance and, most importantly, longevity were important to the responsible authorities. Thus, it was decided to use products from German IP expert Dallmeier, which installed the system together with local partner firm Engineered Systems Solutions (ESS) and service provider Sondolo IT.

The South African Department of Justice (DoJ) has initiated a large-scale National Security Infrastructure Programme which is meant to increase security at more than 120 courthouses. This is necessary as court buildings are frequently scenes of violent acts. Prisoners who attempt to escape, spectators who take the law into their own hands or criminals who seek to extract revenge on a judge for a verdict. Additionally, it is necessary that important court documents stored in the court buildings are secured against theft. Also, the areas around cash registers where, for instance, fines or penalty charges are paid are often scenes of theft or robbery. Such incidents can be prevented using a video system or at least clearly reconstructed.

In the course of the tender, one specification stood out: reliable and high-quality products. With the solution it offered, Sondolo IT won out over the competition. “We have offered Dallmeier products, because we have always had good experiences with the systems,” says MD, Trevor Smangaliso Mathenjwa. “In the past, we had to deal with the problem that many end customers chose cheaper products. However, due to the lower quality there were frequently problems.

Optimal solutions

Several Dallmeier cameras now monitor entrances and exits, corridors, cash register areas, courtrooms and access ways to the judges’ offices. Additionally, the waiting areas for the defendants, rooms where important documents are stored as well as the outside areas of the court buildings are monitored. Compact box cameras as well as controllable PTZ cameras and vandal-resistant dome cameras are used. The images are recorded on DMS 240 ‘In Memory of Leonardo’ devices, H.264 recorders that are able to record up to 24 cameras in real-time.

Retief van der Merwe, national operations coordinator for Sondolo IT explains: “The integration of the Dallmeier devices into the management system was easy using ActiveX. That means the video systems can now be controlled via the same system as is used for the access control, alarm systems, metal detectors or X-ray devices.”

For securing the outside areas, especially fences, the DVS 1600 is used. This is an intelligent video analysis system based on SEDOR technology. SEDOR is – as the name ‘Self-Learning Event Detector’ implies – a self-learning system that automatically recognises and detects different situations. Therefore, the user does not have to make any elaborate settings.

Ten locations successfully implemented

Across 10 courthouses, the concept has already been implemented successfully, including the magistrate’s courts of Pretoria, Pretoria North, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Kempton Park, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Polokwane, Nzikazi and Nelspruit.

Every court building has its own control room. On the next higher level those, control rooms are administered in an overriding security control room, one for every province. Eventually data from all 127 courthouses will converge at one national control centre. This sophisticated security concept guarantees an objective evaluation of the data.

The Dallmeier recording devices offer the possibility to set up different password protected access levels. This accommodates the complex control tasks of the Department of Justice and it is ensured that every security operator is given the access authorisations they need.

There was, however, another challenge that had to be solved: If all control rooms are to be monitored from one national security control centre, high bandwidth would be required to transmit the images. Using PRemote, a transmission method developed by Dallmeier, a smooth and judder-free display is possible even at a low bandwidth. While it produces the same image quality, it requires less bandwidth than the dual streaming method. That is because Dallmeier optimised the specific codec for low bandwidth.

PRemote offers another benefit: whereas dual streaming only allows for the quality of live images to be adjusted, PRemote can also transmit recorded images without taking up too much bandwidth. Thus, it is not only possible to display live images but also to evaluate them over long distances.

Analogue, hybrid or IP

The courts have so far decided to use analogue cameras. “It is however no problem to install network cameras in the future,” Retief van der Merwe explains. “The Dallmeier system can also be operated as a hybrid system. Therefore, the DoJ has the option to switch to IP technology at any time.

For more information contact Dallmeier electronic Southern Africa Office, +27 (0)11 979 4540, dallmeiersa@dallmeier.com, www.dallmeier.com




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