Culiacan is Sinaloa’s capital and largest city; over 850,000 people live within the city and surrounding municipality. It is from there that M.C. Jose de Jesus Galvez, the state’s Secretary of Innovation and close aide to the Governor, is busy at work creating the state’s first unified security solution that he hopes will become a model for all of Mexico.
All major cities in Sinaloa have been secured by citywide surveillance solutions for well over a decade. While these systems have been effective at the local level, the state recognized the need for a more secure, responsive environment capable of providing a single-seat view of their entire security domain.
The new statewide initiative seeks to combine these disparate citywide systems within a single platform, allowing for greater coordination between all municipalities and their law enforcement agencies. The solution, made possible through the combined effort of Vicon´s technical team and value-added-resellers in Sinaloa, is built upon Vicon’s new 100% web-based and true open standards video management solution, Valerus.
He was impressed with its completely web-based, thin-client interface, system-wide health monitoring capabilities and the true open standards on which the software was developed. Plus, the cost to purchase and install Valerus was less than for other video management systems, providing long-term, recurring savings that he will then be able to invest in additional equipment and system expansion over time.
Ultimately, the deciding factor to move forward with Valerus was M.C. Galvez’s confidence in Vicon’s commitment to customer satisfaction and product support. The solution came highly recommended by security advisors who successfully supported the city of Culiacan’s security needs in the past using Vicon solutions.
"Since we’ve installed the system, TSA violations through unsecured doors have gone to zero. Our use of video analytics for back flow prevention is really an incredible use of technology.”
- Mike Supkis, Police and Fire Chief
"Vicon gives us peace of mind that Teddy Roosevelt’s treasures will be protected and preserved for future generations.”
- Susan Sarna, Museum Curator and Director of Security
"The networkability of the Vicon system has put us in total control of what we want to do.”
- Steven Cox, Head of Security
"Dow Jones was impressed with the product and the quality, but the key for them was Vicon’s history of international support. No one else could match it.”
- Jim Tapp, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
"Among the 15 different IP camera models, our committee felt the IQeye was the best camera for the cost, but it also had the best image quality overall.”
- Frank Dale, Manager of Electronic Security
Valerus’ built-in health dashboard makes it easy to keep track of the status of all cameras, even in an installation of this size. It also provides performance data for all NVRs, the Application Server and transmission network. “The monitoring dashboard helps us to identify bottlenecks, communication issues between cameras and NVRs and, most importantly, how much bandwidth we are consuming.” It also supports the city in its frequent interactions with insurance companies. “When a camera is taken out due to vandalism, we can prove to the insurance carrier that it was fully functional just prior to the incident. This makes it possible to get the camera replaced immediately,” explains M.C. Galvez.
M.C. Galvez adds, “In the past, every time an upgrade was released, we spent a lot of time and money bringing all of the system’s PCs up to speed. With the Valerus thin client, all of that has been eliminated. The only hardware that requires a software upgrade is the Application Server. The monitoring stations are always current and require no maintenance whatsoever.”
M.C. Galvez says that his security team “can access the platform from anywhere, from any computer. We’ve been able to use many of the computers we already had in place that were running Windows 7 or later, and we didn’t have to purchase any workstation/client licenses. This saves us a lot of money that can be reinvested in expanding coverage zones.”
In addition, Valerus does not require any annual relicensing of cameras. When compared with software solutions that were in use in other cities throughout Sinaloa, this made a huge impact on the bottom line. Culiacan, alone, has over 1000 surveillance cameras in place. In a system of that size, the Valerus’ model is a game changer. “Vicon has given us the ability to stay within budget with their pricing structure,” says M.C. Galvez.
License Plate Recognition (LPR) is one example. The city of Culiacan has over 800 specialty cameras connected to its LPR system. Vicon engineers custom-designed and manufactured these cameras for the city in order to meet the specifications of the LPR software already in place, made by Spain’s Neural Labs. License plates captured by these cameras are matched against a database within the Neural Labs software. If a suspicious vehicle is identified, corresponding video from surveillance cameras can be immediately called up and shared with law enforcement officers within the vicinity. In addition, the LPR video is stored within the Valerus system, where it can be archived alongside surveillance video for evidence when building a criminal case.
Integrations with other applications are also in the works. The use of facial recognition technology is high on the city’s priority list, as are sound sensor systems that can geo-locate the source of gun shots, and more widespread use of panic buttons throughout the community that can automate emergency response procedures and summon assistance from law enforcement. “We have many ideas for the future, and are confident that Valerus will provide us with the integration capabilities that we need.”
For example, operators within the city’s equivalent of a “911” call center, although a separate division from the city police, can request access to cameras located within the vicinity of an emergency call, so as to share video with ambulance teams and other first responders being sent to the scene.
At the control center, video from cameras is received over a citywide, high-speed fiber optic network that would be the envy of many American cities. Even with the huge camera count, the command center is able to receive and display full 30 frame-per-second video from all cameras, many of which are high definition models. The video is recorded to massive 57TB storage units.
As additional cameras are added to the system, the city plans to take advantage of new H.265 models that will deliver greater efficiencies in bandwidth utilization and storage. The Valerus video management software supports the H.265 standard, and Vicon offers an extensive new line of H.265 cameras. This means that as additional cameras are added, or older ones are swapped out for H.265 models, minimal investment will be necessary for enhanced network infrastructure or storage capacity. “H.265 readiness gives us confidence that the system we’re investing in now is prepared to serve us well into the future,” says Captain Cisneros.
He is also quick to acknowledge the unparalleled level of manufacturer’s support provided by Vicon, which has both a local representative in Mexico and a dedicated tech support team assigned to the project at its New York headquarters. “Vicon is playing a critical role in helping us monitor the installation and growth of the system, and providing us with insights into best practices for VMS use,” says M.C. Galvez.
Culiacan also has a second surveillance monitoring center, currently operating on Vicon’s older ViconNet platform. In 2018, Vicon’s new Valerus-ViconNet “Gateway” will make it possible to view and manage that entire network within the Valerus platform, without replacing any existing hardware. Like other monitoring sites throughout Sinaloa, operators at this center will then have the ability to fully share and collaborate with officials working anywhere within the unified Valerus network.
“This is a very ambitious project for us,” says M.C. Galvez. “We hope to use every function of Valerus to help lower the crime rate and better protect the citizens of Sinaloa. We understand that video isn’t the only way we will achieve this, but it’s a very important part and can help us bring other systems together to be more effective. We’re excited about the possibilities.”
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