Protecting the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza
The Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza, located in the heart of Philadelphia, is a living testament and tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. The goal of the Memorial Plaza is to educate visitors on this shameful time in history and compel them to work towards a world of tolerance and enlightenment wherein nothing like this could ever occur again.
The Memorial Plaza features artifacts and educational features, including pieces of the railroad tracks victims rode on, forcibly, to their deaths, as well as six pillars honoring the memory of the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. The Memorial Plaza, unveiled in October of 2018 on a triangle of land at 16th and Arch Streets and Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City, Philadelphia, was developed to enhance the site around Nathan Rapoport’s Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs. Dedicated to the City of Philadelphia in 1964 by Holocaust survivors and Jewish community leaders, Rapoport’s Monument is the first public memorial to the Holocaust in the United States.
Eszter Kutas, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, has been heavily involved in the fundraising, planning, design and construction of the Memorial Plaza. Her responsibilities include ensuring the safety and security of the site. The Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (DVIC), weighed in on the needed security measures. Under the institutional umbrella of the Philadelphia Police Department, DVIC serves as the regional fusion center and utilizes a collaborative and proactive approach to forecasting, preventing and/or responding to all-threats, all-hazards and major events. They assessed the video surveillance requirements of the Memorial Plaza. The Foundation’s construction company then compiled the specifications, based on the DVIC’s recommendations, and Convergint Technologies delivered a proposal to suit their needs.
Frank Zumaeta, Sales Engineer and David Schulze, IT Network and Enterprise Specialist at Convergint Professional Services, specified video surveillance cameras from Hanwha Techwin. Because of the large size of the Memorial Plaza and park area, a standard definition camera wouldn’t suffice, so Convergint opted for Hanwha’s high resolution PNO-9080R 4K Network IR Bullet Camera. This model allows the viewer to zoom in and see, in close detail, the face of someone passing by the camera who may be a suspect. The PNO-9080R from Hanwha's Wisenet P series performance IP camera line is a 4K camera key in capturing people and events in full detail.
For the actual Memorial site at large, such high resolution wasn’t required, but Convergint, in the interest of overall protection, recommended and installed the XNO-8080R 5 megapixel network IR bullet camera to ensure safety all around the perimeter of the park and Memorial Plaza area. The 5 megapixel resolution camera works well in both day and night conditions, and features analytics for loitering, directional detection, fog detection, audio and tampering detection, as well as digital auto tracking and sound classification. The cameras are tied into a Genetec Security Center Video Management System, which allows authorized administrators from the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation as well as the local Police Department to log in and view the video footage produced by the cameras at any time. Jennifer Wright, Project Manager at the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, reports that “We’re happy with the quality of the Hanwha cameras. The interface is user friendly, as is the ability to review and isolate footage of incidents occurring at the Memorial Plaza.”
The Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza was not spared from anti-Semitism. It was vandalized by a man who etched the initials “REM” and two SS bolts” – a known Nazi symbol – into the memorial’s pillars just before 10 a.m. on June 16. With the help of the surveillance cameras, the perpetrator was quickly apprehended.
“The cameras proved to be fantastic in resolving the June incident,” Wright reports. “I looked at the footage and was able to get a few different angles of the person responsible for the crime. The footage was of good quality and I could clearly see him. We sent it to Philadelphia Police Department and they put out a media advisory; we also shared images of the person responsible for the defacement of the Six Pillars on Facebook. Footage of the incident was shared thousands of times on social media. Public sharing of these images eventually led to a positive identification of a suspect.”
Justice and goodness personify what the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza represents. “We worked with Hanwha and Convergint to help us realize the goals of the Memorial Plaza, and they’ve been excellent partners in our mission,” Kutas reports.