Coastal Texas City to Roll Out Wireless Video Surveillance System

By Ashley Willis

FREEPORT, Texas — The installation of a municipal wireless video surveillance system provided by ADT Security Services will soon commence in this Southeast Texas city, located near the Gulf of Mexico.

The first phase of the project — intended to reduce drug trafficking, vandalism and illegal dumping at a large public housing project — will include a wireless mesh network to transmit video from IP-based cameras. Video recording will be centered in city hall and monitored 24/7 in the nearby Freeport Police Department headquarters.

Later planned phases of the system will help protect the expansive Port Freeport and critical infrastructure in the city, which is home to one of the nation’s largest oil reserves and 29 chemical companies.

The project’s initial phase includes the installation of cameras as well as an access control system at the city’s new $10 million marina, Freeport Chief of Police Ty Morrow tells SSI.

“Because we have boats and other things of high property value stationed there, we need to have it properly monitored,” he says.

The solution will provide boat owners remote monitor capabilities, Sam Sutherland, ADT’s regional sales manager for state and local governments, tells SSI.

“Owners will be able to log in over the Internet and have accessibility to look at their boats,” he says.

The second phase involves camera installation at three bridges that allow the only vehicular access to Freeport, which is located between the Gulf of Mexico and an intracoastal waterway. The cameras will examine traffic flow and patterns to order to track commerce vehicles traveling in and out of the city.

“We’re using the technology as a force multiplier,” Morrow says. “We’ll be using tools like license plate recognition [LPR] and intelligence recognition so the readers can actually read tags without human intervention. We can run the security alerts against the Texas Department of Public Safety’s network for vehicles of interest. We can find out if those cars have been stolen or if they may be involved in terroristic activities.”

During the second phase, chemical companies will link their surveillance cameras to the system. “With 29 chemical plants and the nation’s [fourth largest] oil reserve located here, Freeport is a target-risk environment,” he says. “The more technology that we can use as a force multiplier, the better this agency will be able to respond, mitigate and then recover wherever an event may occur.”

With the design and concept phase already completed, the project’s first stage is expected to be completed in two months. Sutherland says ADT will install roughly 20 Axis network cameras during the first two phases of the project. He also says ADT will train officers on how to operate the system.

With such a large undertaking of protecting critical infrastructure, how can the city afford to install the systems?

“Grants will be coming through the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] and the Houston-Galveston Area Council,” says Morrow. Additional funding will be provided by the Freeport economic Development Corp., Port Freeport, the local port authority and the city’s major petrochemical companies.

Morrow notes that prior to its decision to roll out a new system, the city used the best resources it had to provide the most effective law enforcement. Having worked in Washington, D.C., post-9/11, Morrow saw the benefits of using technology as a force multiplier firsthand.

“When I moved to the South, I saw there was a void in technology used,” he says. “I wanted to come up with a robust, cost effective, comprehensive plan for Freeport.”

Sutherland is so impressed with Freeport’s action planning that he has used the city as an example when discussing systems with other Texas municipalities. “Police departments are very ‘me too,’” he says. “They don’t like to be on the outside, and they want to make sure that the security company is going to stand behind them during the process.”

He also stresses that it requires more than just offering products and services for security companies to team up with law enforcement agencies. “ADT actively works with law enforcement. Our state and local government vertical is geared toward police and first responders,” Sutherland says. “Right now, I’m a member of the National Association of Police Chiefs [NACP] and the Int’l Association of Chiefs of Police [IACP]. As a security company, you really have to figure out how your technology and your knowledge of technology can help them manage their system and communities.”

There are plans to expand Freeport’s system to cover a sports complex, area high schools and a downtown shopping district. The multimillion-dollar job is expected to be completed in 2012. The total value of the project was not released.

Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.


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