How Cameras Can Cover Your Community Assets

Video surveillance is not just about watching. It’s about seeing, providing awareness, looking ahead and solving problems—sometimes even before they occur. Public areas have always been targets for vandalism, and while often labeled as a “victim-less crime,” the costs of continually repairing and replacing city property add up quickly.

Protecting Public Property

Parks, public squares, shopping centers, and the like are public gathering places by design. Unfortunately, not everyone who gathers has wholesome intentions, and nuisance crime becomes an issue that takes more and more effort to curtail.


An effective, well-designed municipal surveillance system includes more than cameras. New, innovative uses of modern technology can provide:

  • Immediate audio intervention utilizing loudspeakers
  • Smart alarms that alert the right people at the right time
  • Infrared or other sensors that work in the dark, too
  • License plate reading and city-wide camera tracking that can follow a suspect while law enforcement responds


This type of surveillance serves as a force-multiplier, allowing monitoring personnel to effectively deal with problems as they happen, and freeing up officers or other responders for more critical situations. This foundation allows for better, faster response to nuisance crime and vandalism, and is proven to reduce overall costs associated with suppression and repair.

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Recouping costs

Besides providing real-time video and response capability, Leverage DETECT also maintains a sophisticated incident library, archiving forensic recordings that can provide evidence for recovering damages or prosecuting offenders, as shown in the following videos:















When surveillance is unified and available at all times to public safety responders and other community stakeholders, the benefits are exponentially multiplied. Expand that system to include businesses and schools who participate in order to improve response time during critical incidents, and you have a true municipal-wide surveillance network.


This vision can be a reality, and it begins with leadership and a foundation based on a Peer-to-Peer IP Surveillance Architecture, patented by LEVERAGE Information Systems.


Handling Nuisance Crime with Surveillance

A good surveillance system is, at its core, about keeping communities safe: citizens, schools, officers, and buildings and public spaces. These are all important components of a healthy community environment, but it’s crucial to implement a model of proactive response — that means understanding the situation and reacting in the best and quickest way, the first time.

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Protecting Your Community

Improving quality-of-life metrics is a standard and appropriate goal of any municipal initiative. Citizens want and deserve to feel confident about their safety, both inside their homes and out among their neighbors. Public perception of a city’s crime statistics and incident response can either bolster or erode the public’s confidence in their elected officials and safety professionals.


A municipal video surveillance system is often deployed initially in parks, schools, and public areas. There is usually strong support for such systems, and because they have proven to dramatically decrease nuisance crime and vandalism, it’s a great way to earn public trust in a new system.

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Once the success of the program is demonstrated to citizens, the system is easily scalable to include traffic monitoring, public building interiors, and even private companies, without adding significantly to the cost of operation and monitoring. DETECT is a force-multiplying technology that permits a small number of technicians to monitor a vast area, and allows officers to focus on what’s really important.

Monitoring School Grounds

Property crime is another major concern of many school districts.  An innovative and effective method to monitor and protect property includes sharing cameras from different surveillance systems. A local school district saved thousands of dollars with DETECT VMS as shown in the video below:


And aside from the property infractions, campus security is up against a unique set of challenges in today’s heightened threat environment. Our K-12 and higher education institutions have been facing increasingly more dangerous threats, and parents and communities are expecting or even demanding better security options to protect their children. These new challenges require intelligent solutions, and DETECT VSS has worked with school districts to solve face this modern reality.



In this age of budget cuts and economic crunches, investing in DETECT VSS is a smart move. Between unifying assets, consolidating video monitoring, and using off-site crime deterrent methods, a community can actually improve response rates without adding a single responder.

Leverage DETECT is a sound investment in a number of ways:

  • Increases the effectiveness of existing surveillance assets through city-wide unification and sharing.
  • Multiplies law enforcement assets and implements PDA intervention in non-critical situations
  • Maintains forensic recordings as evidence for prosecution and recovering damages.



Controlling Camera Chaos: Creating a Unified Surveillance Network

Cameras, cameras everywhere — but who’s watching? In many cases, sadly, it’s nobody. In a city with hundreds of cameras, they may be managed by dozens of separate agencies, all of whom are understaffed and underfunded, and therefore, the use of video surveillance is marginalized. Why not unite those assets into a powerful, cohesive network?

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Smart cities are looking to integrate information technology to improve communication between citizens, agencies, and government. A quick audit of the surveillance systems in a given municipality often reveals an array of disparate assets: local departments, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply, waste management and law enforcement are all likely to have engaged some form of video surveillance.


Undoubtedly, the performance of each of these entities is enhanced by the tools that video surveillance provides, but maintaining separate and uncoordinated surveillance systems is an ineffective use of an extremely powerful tool. For long-term success, those systems should be integrated. Cities that develop a unified surveillance system are better equipped to respond to challenges, while optimizing resource use and operating more efficiently.


The Benefits of Working Together

These unified systems are called Public Video Surveillance Systems (PVSS). PVSS networks are often very visible, and designed by public safety officials to enhance citizen safety and quality of life. At the same time, other city departments are building out IP networks to support the services they provide. Typically traffic engineering, schools, and city utility departments build IP surveillance systems in the shadows of Public Video Surveillance Systems, and while the systems are useful, they are generally woefully underused, poorly maintained, and more often than not, abandoned due to ineffective management.


It may seem a daunting task to merge these efforts—and in truth, it is not easy—nonetheless, Leverage has helped several cities to successfully deploy a Unified Video Surveillance system. As such, each separate department:

  • Shares the resources of the others,
  • Reduces operational expenses, and
  • Distributes maintenance and support costs.

Unified video surveillance reduces overall costs and resource consumption, while at the same time, creating the infrastructure for more reliable operation. Consolidation of resources includes the obvious surveillance cameras, but also extends to networking, power, and video retention costs. Further cost savings are realized by an overall reduction in maintenance and support—all while improving services for each individual department.

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What Are the First Steps Toward Unification?

When the individual entities that make up a municipality choose to adopt mission-essential video surveillance, there is a great deal of planning to start. Some of the critical first steps include:

  • Identifying stakeholders—who is going to participate?
  • Cataloging existing assets—what do we already have?
  • Develop requirements—what do we want the new system to do?
  • Committing to a budget—what do our systems cost, and what can we afford?

Generally, the departments pool their budgets to fund a unified surveillance system. In this way, instead of requiring a single police department to find funding to purchase surveillance for the entire city, the budgets for every individual contributor are added in to cover the cost of an integrated system. In this way, they municipality gains more assets, yet streamlines management and maintenance.

Leverage can help with these steps. We have over a decade of experience designing surveillance systems for cities, agencies, and governments, and we’ve done our share of integrating existing systems, too. Our experience has taught us that there is no such thing as over planning—and a well-outlined system with defined metrics for success is easier to deploy, maintain, use, and justify.

LEARN MORE HERE: Choose a Technology Partner

Public Video Surveillance Systems provide a fundamental change that addresses the shortcomings of independently deployed video surveillance.  With the proper planning of network infrastructure, and management processes in place to ensure reliable operation, it is possible to provide “Mission Essential” video surveillance services to any or all municipal departments. Correct implementation will unify assets, reduce cost, optimize processes, and improve services.

Need a referral? Give us a call or visit our YouTube site for examples of DETECT in Action.

Chinese Cameras and the National Defense Authorization Act

In a recent move to protect federal agencies against vulnerabilities in their security networks, the U.S government and Congress has imposed a ban on Chinese-made surveillance cameras. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is Defense Department’s annual budget and spending outline, specified that federal agencies cannot purchase cameras made by Chinese vendors Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co. and Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co.


Why the drastic measure? Covert back-door access was discovered by cyber-security firm ReFirm Labs—access that would allow unauthorized people to tap into the cameras, and send information to China. Hikvision is 42 percent owned by the Chinese government, and the potential of a foreign power having that kind of unauthorized access US federal agencies is, clearly, a security risk.  It should be said that no evidence of spying or wrongdoing has been publicized, but the potential is there, and it’s scary enough to prompt large-scale surveillance crackdowns throughout the government. (You can read more about that here.)



What does this mean for you?

Well, maybe nothing. If you aren’t working with surveillance systems that are impacted by the NDAA amendment, you certainly aren’t required to take any action. But—are you willing to take a chance that your hardware and surveillance is vulnerable to attack?


Hackers look for vulnerabilities to exploit, and almost certainly for malicious reasons. There are plenty of reasons why hackers might want to break into your security camera system, which makes ongoing and proactive cyber-security measures a must—regardless of what you’re using the system for.


What is Leverage’s view?

Hikvision is the world’s largest security camera provider, but they’re certainly not the only one.  In fact, in anticipation of greater restrictions going forward, some security vendors are already refusing to purchase equipment from Hikvision and Dahua.


Detect Engagement

At Leverage, the first part of our engagement is to conceptualize and design the best system to meet our client’s requirements. When it is our choice for camera selection, we recommend and use Hanwha. We can support other OEMs, and do so when requested by our clients, however we are development partners with Hanwha and have leveraged their capabilities within the DETECT solution for a powerful and seamless alliance of hardware and software.


Hanwha manufactures their hardware in South Korea and Vietnam, therefore do not put users at risk of purchasing federally banned devices. Hanwha’s cyber-security practices are well documented, and you can read more about them here.


What’s the bottom line? Know your requirements, know the restrictions, and find an experienced technology partner you can trust to help you with the process.

Does Cloud-Based Surveillance Make Sense?

IT professionals all over the world are looking for ways to cut costs—how can technology be leveraged in new and efficient ways?  For many applications, “the cloud” is the answer to reducing hardware requirements and maintenance hours, as well as adding flexibility and scalability to an existing system or embracing a new application. But does that apply to video surveillance?

Surveillance is comprised of unique components that may not always work well in a cloud environment, and municipal surveillance has higher stakes than, say, home security. Video files are large, and depending on the hardware that is being utilized, can run into terabyte-level files in a surprisingly short amount of time. Depending on the cloud storage requirements for multiple camera’s worth of video, fees for cloud access could very quickly eclipse the cost of maintaining an NVR onsite.

Privacy issues are also a consideration, specifically for municipal surveillance systems. There may be restrictions or laws in place that govern the storage of video footage. Digital security is out of your hands, once the video is uploaded to the cloud.

Uptime and Reliability

There is an additional concern, specifically for high-security areas, of what happens when the cloud is inaccessible. When Amazon (a major cloud-storage provider) goes down, it’s breaking news globally within minutes. With the traditional DETECT system, we have tools in place to keep a finger on the pulse of your system. Not only is the health status of your network available at any time, a large portion of our strategy is dedicated to mitigating downtime.

Link: Uptime and Reliability



When Should You Consider the Cloud?

You don’t need high-resolution video. The trade-off for uploading at anything remotely resembling real-time (it’s not) is frame rate and resolution. It might be a sacrifice worth making, depending on what you’re monitoring, but video quality will noticeably suffer, and there is a delay in response due to internet upload speeds.

You don’t mind recording every motion, every time. This works well in indoor static environments where motion is limited and the environment doesn’t change. Outside, everyday movement like birds, shadows, trees in the wind—currently, these factors can’t be masked out.

You’re looking for a new system. It’s unlikely you can upgrade an existing camera network to work with a cloud surveillance system. If you’re facing obsolescence, if moving to a cloud system means better adoption and use, or if ongoing maintenance is unsustainable, you might consider the switch.

Cloud or otherwise, video surveillance is a great investment. It can be used for a wide variety of tasks: recording events, identifying intrusions or other anomalies, providing real-time intelligence to first responders, monitoring infrastructure, and much more. The key to choosing the right system for your needs is planning. A highly functional, municipal-wide surveillance system must be built with a solid understanding of the goals and metrics of the project—how will you know if it’s effective? If the system is planned strategically, it will improve the effectiveness of every agency involved.

Getting Started with Municipal Surveillance


What is a Video Surveillance System, Really?

You don’t have to look very hard to find a surveillance camera. They’re ubiquitous at intersections, on storefronts, in domes on supermarket ceilings, at offices and schools and hospitals — according to some sources, the average American is recorded on video more than 50 times every day.

Video surveillance technology, like the rest of the digital age, is evolving at a breathtaking pace. With near constant upgrades to camera resolution, frame rates, lens design and coverage capability, storage options and capacity, keeping up with the latest and greatest can feel like a never-ending struggle. But, there is silver lining: You can put together an extremely effective solution using cameras and sensors that are readily available and getting more affordable every day. In fact, many municipalities and campuses prefer to deploy hardware with a proven track record, in order to keep obsolescence at bay. So, even if your budget or boss is a little shy about bleeding-edge tech, it doesn’t mean video surveillance is out of the question for you.

What do you need?

A video surveillance system is comprised of a broad range of items: the obvious includes cameras, digital recorders, VMS software, and video storage (whether network or cloud), and viewing stations. The underlying structure can be more complex, when you consider cables and wires, sensors, switches, power supplies, microphones and speakers, installation, monitoring, and maintenance.

It seems like a lot. Don’t worry—at Leverage, we work with you, and your stakeholders, to figure out exactly what you need and the best path forward. From design to deployment and beyond, we’re a partner you can count on.

Link: Getting Started with Municipal Surveillance



What do you expect to see?

The main question, of course, is what do you need the surveillance to do? Different hardware configurations provide different captured video, so it’s important to determine what you’re going to need from the video. Some cameras have incredible resolution and zooming capabilities, allowing you to identify and follow the movement of an individual or vehicle. Others cameras or sensors are better for detecting intrusions and setting of alarms—provoking a manned response. Some hardware has recognition capabilities: for, example, license plate recognition or gunshot detection. What hardware you select is largely dependent on the end result you desire.

Link: Does it Really Work?