Picture: Dubai police recently placed an order to equip their motorcycles with mobile video surveillance
Somewhat unusual regulatory conditions in Dubai mean that certain establishments such as shopping centers, gas stations and jewellery stores are legally required to install video surveillance technology.
In addition, many parts of the city are being monitored 24 hours a day by static PTZ cameras. While this sounds like sales paradise for the manufacturers of video surveillance equipment, it is not in fact so easy to get the contract.
In every case, a qualified and independent surveyor must be brought in who will do the site survey and create the project plan. This will include not only the positioning and type of cameras but also the recording and, where required, transmission equipment.
The completed installation can then be officially accepted by the Dubai police, and this experience has made them unquestionable experts in the field of video surveillance.
Of course, the police themselves are customers in a sense because they need video recordings to verify how events took place. Their large fleet of operational vehicles is constantly underway and can gather important evidence material at opportune moments.
So the requirement was published to equip them with cameras, recording and transmission over cellular networks back to a central control room operated by the Dubai Police.
Here HeiTel‘s experience in installing video equipment in Dutch buses as well as the Basel and Zurich public transportation systems proved invaluable. It enabled the company, together with their established partner Atlas Telecom from Dubai and neighboring Abu Dhabi just 80 miles along the coast, to provide a competent and convincing offer and a tailor-made vehicle fleet solution for the Dubai Police.
Part of the offer was for fleet management solutions and video gateways to integrate existing mobile recorders into the fleet management software. After evaluation of competitors products in a real-life field test, 110 police cars of Dubai Police force have now been equipped with HeiTel‘s on-board camera, compression and transmission equipment.
First in the chain comes a specially robust 360-degree panning mini PTZ dome camera mounted on the car roof.
It has a hard life because it is always being vibrated and exposed to the Dubai weather. It therefore has a protective dome made of a special compound that is resistant both to the scratching sandstorms and the intense ultra-violet exposure, while the camera itself must withstand temperatures of up to 60°C within the dome.
An optional windshield and rear window camera as well as microphones complete the media-gathering equipment. These are all controlled via CamControl LITE software installed on a touch panel PC fitted into the car dashboard.
On-board proprietary video compression technology compresses the incoming data stream for fast and secure transmission of video, audio and GPS data over cellular networks (using GPRS, HSPA, CDMA, UMTS or EDGE) to a tailor-made fleet management software, which is especially designed for central monitoring stations. Ruggedized digital recorders with a removable HDD fitted in the vehicles simultaneously archive the material at source.
The HeiTel by Xtralis Cam4mobile transmission product line provides the camera and microphone interfaces for up to 10 analog or IP cameras and also looks after setting up and maintaining the radio link to get the data back to the control room.
Here it is necessary to poll the vehicles to maintain a ‚database of active connections, in a similar way to how cellphones continuously register themselves with the network. This polling ensures that, back in the control room, they can always see which vehicles are reachable and the system can open up full video transmission quickly.
And with such a large fleet on the road, the Dubai Police Headquarters need a suitably-dimensioned control room to handle this incoming data. Resembling a small concert hall, there are places for up to 45 controllers who, apart from the vehicles, also monitor static cameras that are installed throughout the city and in specific public areas.
Using Integrated Management System software from Siemens, the integrated control center solution is based on HeiTel‘s CamControl Multiclient and CamControl SERVER and can receive up to 160 concurrent video/audio live streams over 3G, including remote PTZ control – this equates to connections to four different vehicles per controller.
Usage is very easy for the controllers, with clicks on vehicle icons shown on the cinema screen-sized wall display initiating the communications and control commands to set up remote video transmission. An interface board for video and audio transmission integrates existing DVRs into the fleet management software.
The HeiTel by Xtralis mobile components are by no means restricted to cars; the product line offers tailor made CCTV solutions including cameras for taxis, buses, trucks and trams, all easy integrated into their fleet management software via an embedded adaptor or external router (LAN connection with Cam4mobile) that hooks into the local 3G network with a fixed IP address.
Dubai police recently placed an order to equip their motorcycles with similar capabilities and these now have a mast-mounted camera fitted above the rear wheel with a side-pod holding the transmission equipment.