Smart cities in the United States are on the rise because municipalities are realizing the added benefits of utilizing technology to manage assets and resources that ultimately improve city operations. With multiple devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), smart city technology allows officials to better understand what is happening in and around their network by monitoring both community and infrastructure through a single platform.
Cities of all sizes have been investing in security and surveillance technologies to combat criminal activity and monitor traffic patterns. Surveillance can increase public safety and help support the framework of city operations, but the concept only works if cameras do not experience downtime or a loss of video. This scenario was the driving force for one city in California.
With a population of almost 130,000 residents, the City of Concord is one of the largest cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Concord has 85 cameras in the downtown area, with a goal to deploy more in the future. Over time, issues began to arise that prevented video from recording properly. Upon review of surveillance footage, the city discovered that select cameras had not been recording, resulting in a lack of critical video evidence.
Concord’s IT department began delving into the camera system to find the leading cause of the downtime, which turned out to be unique obstacles: networking technologies, storage capacities, and communication between firmware technologies across the network. It was not until the Concord IT staff attended a local conference that they would identify a Service Assurance software solution from STANLEY—one that could detect what the issues were, diagnose each device on the network, and recommend solutions for degrading hardware.
The Municipal Information Systems Association of California (MISAC) promotes the understanding and strategic use of information technology within local government agencies and includes municipal IT administrators from all over California. More than 20 cities attended the northern chapter meeting in Oakland in March 2018, including the City of Concord. Concord officials reaffirmed at the meeting that the Service Assurance solution could help diagnose the cause of video downtime and provide real-time updates on the health of the surveillance network.
After a pilot phase was approved, the city’s network was ready for the initial server analysis. A week after installing the Service Assurance solution, the persistent issues causing failures were identified and corrected. This innovative software solution now allows the City of Concord to continuously detect and diagnose problems in real time.
Many utilities providers suffer from being notified too late, or not at all, when security network devices are down. But by utilizing a Service Assurance solution that can quickly detect and report such a lapse in coverage or system failures, the software reporting recommendations save cities like Concord both time and resources.
When a failure, potential failure, or vulnerability is detected, the solution automatically sends an alert with the component, location, problem, event, time, severity, and solution to the Concord IT department.
Service Assurance analytics also help remedy problems with cyber hygiene and audit compliance needs. The benefit is the solution reduces a labor-intensive and time-consuming process when dealing with a complex security system.
Since being installed in late March, the City of Concord’s video surveillance has eliminated the system downtime headache. Thanks to the STANLEY solution, the City of Concord spends less time managing its physical security system and can confidently plan future enhancements to it. The City of Concord is a leading example of how both small- and large-sized cities can intelligently connect their physical security network to have an intelligent picture of the system’s health.
Drew Alexander is director of product management for STANLEY Security.