Council says integrated camera network enhances security
For approximately 15 years, the City of Hobart has used CCTV to protect council property and keep the streets safe. But the system was ad hoc, patchy, siloed, unreliable.
That changed about two years ago when Council decided to upgrade the city’s legacy security system and reinstate it as a single integrated citywide network.
Today, the network consists of 200 cameras deployed in the city’s busiest areas, providing 300 video feeds in a move that the council says has significantly improved the reach and capacity of its security monitoring.
“Previously we had disparate units, the board had their own systems in place. There was no overall unit within the council dealing with these cameras,” said Robert Stevenson, manager of the smart and sustainable city of Hobart. Government News.
“They either stopped working and nobody knew about it, or the person who installed them had left the board and nobody understood what had been installed. And if you wanted to know what was filmed, you had to go out with a USB drive and download the footage.
“When we did an audit, we found that a significant number of them were simply not working or had reached the end of their life, so it seemed natural to us to bring together all those areas that needed to be collected information in the city and put them into one unit.
The project was made possible by funding from the federal government’s Safer Communities Grants fund, which provided approximately $860,000, with the City of Hobart contributing $1 million.
The Council worked with local network solutions company Jettech and Swedish surveillance technology provider Axis to set up a range of multi-directional fixed dome cameras covering a heavily trafficked stretch of the CBD.
Video management software allows the council to share footage with police and identify traffic and public safety issues in real time.
“We’ve had a lot of information from the police saying that crimes that they otherwise would have had no way to solve, they were able to solve using this system,” Mr Stevenson said.
Benefits of the smart city
In addition to monitoring public safety, the City anticipates that over time the network will gather analytics and data that, when paired with AI systems, will lead to better infrastructure decisions without the cost of contract consultants.
“What we’re really interested in are the benefits of the smart city of being able to monitor video feeds for people counting, vehicle counting, security counting – all these smart analytics of what’s going on in the city” , says Stevenson.
In conjunction with drone imagery, network camera data is also used in the city’s digital twin project, which creates a high-resolution 3D interactive model of the city.
With remote ranging devices, including cameras, we can begin to know where cars are going, where people are, and where bikes and scooters are.
“Cameras will increasingly tell us, using analytics, high-level information about where people are in the city and how they move at different times of the day, for businesses tourism or hospitality,” Stevenson said.
“With remote ranging devices, including cameras, we can start to get a sense of where cars are going, where people are and where bikes and scooters are.
“It will help us understand the effects of things like closing a road or building a new bike path. All of those kinds of things become possible once you have the analytics.
The council says a fiber optic network is also being built which will provide the City of Hobart with a fully centralized network to connect all cameras from a central hub.
Although the system operates 24/7, Stevenson says it is not a security system and the feeds are not regularly monitored.
Only “one or two” council officers trained and authorized to assess police requests have access to the images.
According to the council’s website, public safety cameras are only installed in public spaces where security or crime is a known problem and where infrastructure and technology permit.
He says the cameras do not monitor homes, inside non-municipal assets or inside public amenities.
Mr Stevenson says the community feels safe knowing the cameras are there.
“The only answer we got was ‘why can’t we have a camera there,’” he said.
“We’ve had a huge response from traders, and women with security concerns say they’ve been more comfortable with CCTV in bus shelters.”
“The feeling we get from people is that they feel safe knowing the cameras are there.”
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