Minnesota Cities Establish Regional Security Network

Inter-city security solution for Minneapolis-St. Paul area
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Inter-city security solution for Minneapolis-St. Paul area
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Minneapolis control room for this regional network

MINNEAPOLIS — Video management software is at the heart of a regional security network based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. This metropolitan area is the most populous community in the state with a sprawl of more than 3,000,000 people.

Eight cities here covering more than 200 square miles have formed a circle of relationships by connecting their video surveillance to protect citizens and quickly resolve incidents that can cross between their borders. With the networked Milestone XProtect video management software, individual municipalities control their own security monitoring yet quickly connect with neighboring systems for collaborations.

“We had a collective idea between municipalities to centralize local systems with the same IT backbone,” said Tim Ferrian, director of sales and marketing for Pro-Tec Design. “Every city can adopt software from the Milestone platform to have its own system. But there are times administrators may want to open access to their system to solve a mutual incident, and they can get assistance from neighboring emergency services for as much help as possible to solve a problem. Sharing camera feeds through Milestone has been a valuable, yet easy-to-integrate solution that each municipality has eagerly installed.”

Security integrator Pro-Tec Design identified the parallel and individual needs of each city and their various departments. For example, the police department in one city has a variety of unique applications different from the IT department, schools or retail business in another. The widespread commonality for all cities was the need for IP video management software to replace limited legacy analog systems.

Milestone XProtect VMS, with its open-platform technology, allows each city to monitor and secure its own assets, be it a government building, transit station or city-owned business. Milestone enables each to design and install the hardware and software that meet its own needs, providing a flexible solution that can also be shared across locations to leverage more resources. With a combined combined software service, updates and maintenance are streamlined for quick response from Pro-Tec.

The management software solves the core needs of each municipality but offers feature sets and client interfaces that address unique requirements. For example, Milestone Mobile is deployed on tablets and smartphones. The cities are saving money by deploying emergency services, knowing exactly what they are dealing with before sending out first responder teams. Pro-Tec also expanded the open platform into additional applications, such as video integration using XProtect Transact for government-owned retail stores.

Pro-Tec’s relationships with the cities in Minnesota developed from a foundation of card access control and video surveillance, so a transition into open platform, network-based VMS that could integrate the two was a logical step.

“We could see the shift in security and surveillance to IP, and we wanted to partner with strong companies to provide our clients with a solution beyond their current expectations that could easily be installed, upgraded and expanded over time,” Ferrian said. “Milestone understood this, not only in the technology’s infancy but how it would evolve to what end-users expect in the future, to deliver as a flexible core offering.”


There are many common themes within city surveillance: watching out for the visitors of city halls, keeping track of persons in custody at police stations, providing evidence for investigations, protecting staff and equipment, monitoring community pools and protecting the government from liability, or watching intersections for public works operations such as moving snow and salting roads. There are also such needs as monitoring a busy farmer’s market, senior centers, community sports, schools, historical landmarks, water towers and treatment facilities.

The eight cities currently linked via Pro-Tec’s Milestone video solution are Shoreview, Farmington, Brooklyn Center, Minnetonka, Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park, Edina and Minneapolis. In addition, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Minneapolis Convention Center are included within this “Ring of Protection.”

“Our Milestone installation process was very simple; the interface is easy to use and very straightforward,” said Nick Lovejoy, an IT specialist for the City of Edina. “It’s evident in our day-to-day operations that the Milestone interface has helped us improve services in the city, addressing and solving many issues with a quick turnaround.”

Brooklyn Center has integrated the point-of-sale systems at its liquor stores with Milestone’s XProtect Transact software, which displays video associated with register transactions. This integration gives a time-synchronized interface linking receipt data with corresponding video, extending the monitoring of operations to include actual cash register data. This identifies problems involving POS and credit cards to reduce shrinkage and fraud, providing a safer shopping environment.

“Ease of use was extremely important when deciding on our VMS installation,” said Patty Hartwig, IT director for Brooklyn Center. “We did our research looking for user-friendly, adaptable and easy-to-modify solutions. Our system needed to play back and pull up video in an instant. We put an extreme value on the Milestone VMS protecting our city assets: We required a product that would be here today, tomorrow and in the future.”