The city of Birmingham, Ala. has upgraded the security cameras throughout the city, which allows authorities to watch for public safety concerns, such as crowds gathering. This allows the city to dispatch the appropriate response in a timely manner.

Birmingham is the largest city in the state of Alabama, spanning 151 square miles and boasting a downtown population of nearly 230,000. Like any major city, Birmingham has its share of crime and vandalism.

To help combat this and provide a safe environment for residents and visitors alike, the city has taken a number of measures including provisioning the installation of 40 video surveillance cameras throughout the metropolitan area.

Choice and Installation

In early 2008, the mayor’s office hired systems integrator ION Interactive Video Technologies to install surveillance cameras in various outdoor locations across the city. ION specializes in IP-based security solutions for businesses and organizations of all sizes, including municipalities.

The city also tapped ION for its trained professional agents who remotely monitor all of the installed cameras from the company’s own control center. Agents instantly notify the Birmingham Police Department of any potential threat or suspicious behavior, and the police immediately step in to respond and handle the situation.

Ed Welden, CEO of systems integrator ION, said, “ION provides state-of-the-art solutions to assist in keeping cities, public-access areas and government facilities safe, secure and protected…24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our monitoring agents help to facilitate a quicker response to nearly any situation, providing a high degree of security and safety on city streets.”

As part of the installation, ION chose to work with VideoIQ, and an intelligent video surveillance camera with a built-in DVR was chosen to be installed.

A Crowd Pleaser

ION initially chose the iCVR for its ability to monitor for and detect crowds, something the city wanted to keep a particular close eye on.

“A large crowd can often accompany trouble and analytics can automatically detect when a certain number of people are congregating in a specific area. This gives us advance warning of a potential problem and enables the police to respond before an incident takes place. Additionally, with built-in audio over IP, our remote guards can use loudspeakers to inform intruders they’ve been detected – driving them off and preventing crime,” said Welden.

This system is also able to capture images and store them at the edge network. The iCVR intelligently controls storage resolution based on what it sees; a potential threat such as a car in a restricted area or someone lurking near a store front is recorded at the highest possible resolution and quality, alerting guards and providing them with the ability to quickly ascertain the situation and respond appropriately. During times when nothing is taking place, the camera captures images at a lesser quality, allowing the built-in 80 GB hard drive to store one to two months worth of video and ultimately saving money.

The cameras have been up and running in the city since August 2008. Throughout 2009 more cameras have been installed in the downtown area, replacing the city’s older cameras that have limited

Weldon said, “The City of Birmingham places the safety and security of its residents and tourists as its foremost priority. A proactive approach to security combined with the power and accuracy of the security solution provides a level of security protection we are proud to deliver.”