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Next-generation video surveillance comes to Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

J. D. Sartain | Sept. 25, 2014
Video surveillance pops up all over the globe -- and not just to identify suspects in crimes or terrorist activities. Retail stores use video surveillance to record customers' shopping patterns. County governments watch traffic flow for better road design. Schools and corporations monitor classrooms and offices. Police officers now wear body cameras. Video is everywhere, capturing millions of hours of activity.

Video surveillance pops up all over the globe — and not just to identify suspects in crimes or terrorist activities. Retail stores use video surveillance to record customers' shopping patterns. County governments watch traffic flow for better road design. Schools and corporations monitor classrooms and offices. Police officers now wear body cameras. Video is everywhere, capturing millions of hours of activity.

The Maricopa County (Az.) Sheriff's Office is the third largest sheriff agency in the United States, with an average of 8,500 inmates continuously monitored. MCSO captures and records all activities within the facility 24/7. Maintaining high-quality security with outdated equipment and amid massive growth — the current population of 4 million has quadrupled since 1970 and nearly doubled since 1990 — was becoming a nightmare.

With its legacy video surveillance system, it took two days for the office to retrieve just 30 minutes of pixilated, out-of-focus footage that made identifying the crime scene and the perpetrators increasingly difficult, if not almost impossible. In addition, technical problems persisted — corrupted tapes, malfunctioning cameras, random network disconnects from equipment and ongoing system failures.

Options: Video Surveillance Upgrade or Replacement?

Considering Maricopa County's reputation as one of the most technology advanced counties in the United States, these frequent issues had to be resolved. Sixty days to identify, access and retrieve 30 days' worth of video surveillance data was unacceptable, not to mention a time luxury the sheriff's office couldn't afford. In many investigations, data had to be retrieved within hours, even minutes.

The sheriff's office began researching technologies to upgrade and/or replace its legacy system. The department wanted to capture multiple petabytes of surveillance and sensor data from thousands of new IP cameras across its six facilities, so quality, speed and reliability mattered. It quickly became apparent that similar failures at other locations necessitated a complete overhaul of the county's video surveillance approach.

"Maricopa needed an exceptionally reliable video surveillance system that could capture data in real-time, as well as store and process that information quickly," says Molly Rector, CMO at storage infrastructure vendor DataDirect Networks (DDN). "Other factors [it] looked for included reliability, altering, user friendliness, standardization and faster access to footage and forensic quality images."

Solutions: Fully Integrated Security Controls

Sierra recommended a fully integrated security controls system featuring a unified, IP security system; high-definition cameras, and high-performance big data storage powered by DDN's Storage Fusion Architecture (SFA).

The DDN- Sierra integration gives law enforcement a single-pane view of the entire security environment, complete with touch-screen controls of both video and audio recordings. Meanwhile, the SFA technology supports Sierra's video surveillance system across the county's six facilities, which span 3,000 HD surveillance cameras.

 

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