NEW YORK — The Statue of Liberty has long occupied a special place in the heart of Jordan Heilweil, president of New York-based systems integrator Total Recall Corp. Both of his grandparents immigrated to this country by way of Ellis Island.
Heilweil’s company has provided security services at the monument since 1999, and yet he always had a vision of what type of security solution was appropriate for one of the world’s greatest icons of freedom. Budgets and technology were always an obstacle to doing more. So he got proactive and reached out to the U.S. Park Police, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Interior (DOI) with a project proposal to design, install and maintain a state-of-the-art IP-based video surveillance system, gratis. To fulfill his vision, he recruited a number of vendors to donate their wares.
Although Total Recall had existing relationships with each of the nine vendors that ultimately signed onto the project, the endeavor nonetheless involved a considerable effort that took more than a year of persistence to move forward.
“Once we explained our goals and the necessity of the system I believe it was an easy decision for each member of this ‘dream team.’ It was an amazing opportunity to build a solution where money wasn’t the gating factor,” he says. “Each member had the same goal, ‘How can we provide the best solution possible?’”
Total Recall was supposed to have access to the statue to install equipment beginning in November 2012. Delays in the ongoing life-safety project within the statue’s pedestal, as well as extensive damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy, delayed full access to the site until late May of this year.
U.S. Park Police was unwavering in its intent to reopen the statue to the public on July 4 following the super storm calamity. To meet the hard deadline, Total Recall would be forced to amend its scheduling and some systems designs, which had been drafted for months but was pending deployment until construction was completed.
“The logical steps of our plan were instantly thrown out because of Hurricane Sandy. We had to work completely out of order in whatever space we had access to,” Heilweil says. “The schedule changed daily. It was similar to how a movie is made, filmed out of order but it all comes together in the end.”
Some technicians worked mainly at night while others built out a high-tech command center and system infrastructure on Liberty Island until they were provided access into the monument. A concerted, highly-focused team effort was vital to completing the project on schedule.
On Nov. 20, officials conducted a press tour of the site, held in conjunction with ISC East. (You can view a photo gallery.) Heilweil recognized the nine members of his “Dream Team” and discussed their donations. Included: Axis Communications (150+ HD IP cameras); BriefCam (video synopsis software); DragonWave (microwave radios); Milestone Systems (VMS); Pivot3 (data storage); Proxim (wide area wireless broadband); RGB Spectrum (video display technology); Scallop Imaging (200-degree panoramic IP cameras); and Winsted Corp. (command center consoles).
Among its capabilities, the new system can push data out to remote users in the field and also use smart technology to stream data back from individuals in the field, according to Park Police Capt. Greg Norman. Police commanders in Washington D.C. will also have the ability to view events in real-time at the monument on handheld devices.
“We now have the ability to have several remote locations where the system can be monitored from, in addition to our new command center. The image quality is far superior to the old analog system and we are also afforded the ability to have cameras in locations that otherwise would have been almost inaccessible with the previous system,” says Norman.
Norman praised all involved in the project team for their generous contributions and ability to get the job done despite the constraints and limitations they had to work around.
“They are a group of dedicated people who are not only truly great people to deal with, but who also came into this project with a very strong can-do attitude to make it all work and have our security in place by the July 4, 2013 reopening,” he says.