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Police Pictures

by msecadm4921

Dorset police are sending CCTV pictures from town centres to their headquarters control room over existing communications networks.

The system could be used to send pictures of incidents to police on the beat, in a car or in a helicopter transmitting high resolution images to computer terminals, hand-held computers or the next generation of internet mobile phones. Harry Brightwell, head of information systems with the force said: ‘The sophisticated compression system has allowed us to use our existing networks to transmit pictures of high quality. Until this breakthrough the only way to accomplish this would have been to install dedicated video networks and that would have been prohibitively expensive. In the future it will be important to send visual images of incidents that have come into the control room out to officers so that they can view the event and have an understanding of the event before he or she even arrives so that they can plan how to deal with the situation. The system has been well received by control room staff who direct officers to incidents throughout the country and any senior officer who wishes to make an assessment of a particular incident can view them. A person sitting at the Christchurch control desk can see what is going on in Christchurch and pre warn officers. To provide this sort of service over a dedicated network would have cost over œ250,000. Essential Viewing solved the problem because their video compression technology allows a high quality CCTV image to be transmitted across a very narrow bandwidth. These narrow bandwidth networks already existed providing every singe police station in the county with data and telephony links. If it hadn’t been for Essential Viewing we wouldn’t have had CCTV pictures in the control room because we wouldn’t have been able to afford to do so.’
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Simon Hardy is chief executive of Glasgow-based Essential Viewing, the company behind the Blue Watch compression system. He says: ‘We have even developed a remote camera which is the size of a cigarette packet that can transmit pictures to a police control room achieving high quality images even over a cellular network. In common with most forces Dorset Police needed real-time access to CCTV footage from local authority schemes in towns throughout the county. When a CCTV operator viewed an incident on a local camera it could not effectively be relayed to the police Control Room in the force’s headquarters at Winfrith. Different approaches were investigated but these were either very expensive or required high bandwidths to deliver even average quality video. Control room staff also wanted to see as large a video image as possible making the requirement even tougher. The Blue Watch solution implemented by Essential Viewing has been built around real-time video architecture. A single network encoder is installed and connected to each local authority CCTV control room. When an operator is in touch with the police control room staff they can select the relevant camera feed and the network encoder compress the video stream in real-time. Each encoder then sends a compressed stream across the existing wide area network to a network server at Winfrith. Control room operators are able to connect to this server and view the appropriate stream giving them real-time access to each town’s CCTV system.’
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The key benefit of the Essential Vision solution is that it can deliver 25 frames per second video steams over the existing corporate network in less than 150kbps or of course over a DSL line. Full screen display is also achieved meaning that for the first time high quality CCTV can be transported using existing narrowband networks. This technology really is a huge advance on traditional systems and fundamentally changes the economics of wide-area CCTV. It is also a very complete system, not simply a point-to-point solution – it also allows forwarding to any desktop and also to officers on the beat using wireless. <br>
Simon added: ‘Planned extensions to the system include connecting the video feed from the Force’s helicopter to allow several officers to view the footage in real-time and serving the compressed video feeds across a wireless network allowing officers in cars or on foot to view video streams on handheld devices.’

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