Command & Control Center Called ‘Cathedral to AV’

Giant LCD walls enable officials to monitor where needed
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In the fight against crime, police departments across the country are moving to centralized 24-hour command centers with massive video walls that help officers detect crime while it is happening, or to react quickly to natural disasters so as to minimize any loss of life.

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AmeriPak’s Rotationally Molded Shipping and Storage Containers

Leading the way is the Los Angeles Police Department’s Real-Time Analysis and Critical Response (RACR) center located within the city’s new $107 million Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

The RACR is dominated by a wall—eight feet high by 24 feet wide—of NEC liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors displaying a total of 29 million pixels.

The monitors are critical to the effort because they offer better image resolution than rear-projection systems and have an ultra-narrow bezel (7.3 millimeter) that eases the side-by-side stacking of screens, said John Bilar, Spectrum Integrated Technology Consulting Group’s vice president of technology. Spectrum, of Oceanside, Calif., designed and was responsible for implementation oversight of the RACR facility’s integrated technology.

The video wall provides critical news and information from an array of sources, including off-air and closedcircuit television broadcasts, various computer-based information systems, images shared by other departments within the EOC, the city’s traffic cameras, a variety of LAPD classified and nonclassified cameras and even some social media inputs.

What the city has built at the RACR is a “cathedral to AV,” Bilar said. At its heart, the facility is about predictive policing, using video images and data to calculate where crimes occur, as well as catching perpetrators, he added. Prior to having the watchful gaze of RACR’s video systems, the LAPD was “reactionary and had limited means to track and respond to events upstream or downstream from an incident,” Bilar said. The department wanted to go from reactionary to proactive and thereby “increase their effectiveness.”

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The Los Angeles Police Department’s Real-Time Analysis and Critical Response Center. Emergency facility photos courtesy of Spectrum ITC Group

With the RACR system, operators can track an event like a funeral procession as it moves down city streets, and cameras on the event can tell if things are going awry or according to plan, Bilar said. With eyes on such events, the LAPD can achieve the situational awareness it needs to protect the city’s residents, he said.

To keep track of all the images, the RACR uses PixelNet Domain Control software, by Jupiter Systems of Hayward, Calif., to serve as the display wall processor. With PixelNet, RACR operators can scale the number of data inputs to the video wall and designate the outputs as single, or logically grouped, displays. PixelNet adopts Gigabit Ethernet and Workgroup switches for use with high-resolution, real-time video.

“PixelNet is so easy to use, or rather it is elegantly simple,” said Kevin Corcoran, who was the city Information Technology Agency’s RACR project manager. The system enables users to move windows around, resize them, save them on the wall or save as layouts and dynamically change it, he said.

“The visual representation of what information was coming in was the focus; it was AV magic that John (Bilar) envisioned stuffed into one big magic box.”

OTHER SYSTEMS

In North Carolina, the Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is building a new 236,000 square-foot emergency management center that will feature Internet protocol television (IPTV) and state-of-theart audiovisual equipment.

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The Los Angeles Emergency Management Department’s Main Coordination Room

The NCDOT’s Joint Forces Headquarters (JFHQ) will house the state’s central viewing system that will maintain watch over the Triangle Expressway Intelligent Transportation system.

Once operational, the JFHQ will enable the state to share information from 400 closed-circuit television cameras, more than 600 vehicle detectors and five roadway weather information systems with other agencies at the JFHQ.

Like in Los Angeles, this new system enables police and emergency responders to see exactly the same information within an identical operating picture. It will improve situational awareness as well as enhance the quality and speed of decision making.

The new system will be powered by software from Activu Corp., based in Rockaway, N.J. The Activu software accommodates NCDOT’s legacy analog infrastructure, bridges it with newer network and mobile technologies and offers operators a single point of control, said Paul Noble, Activu’s CEO.

“North Carolina’s state-of-the-art integrated JFHQ operations center is the wave of the future,” Noble said. In addition, “the opportunity and scale of inter-agency cooperation at this center will help us improve and expand our own product capabilities,” he said.

ENSURING MOBILITY

But what about disasters that occur out of range of the stationary cameras, like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes or wildfires in the outback?

AmeriPak, a Robbinsville, N.J., company, makes portable cases that protect sensitive command and control systems in the field, said Bob LeGrand, AmeriPack’s business development manager. Ameripack offers watertight and airtight Rotationally Molded Shipping and Storage Containers in a variety of sizes or they can be custom built.

The containers are versatile, with thicker corners for better content protection and thinner vertical walls to reduce overall weight. The hinged or removable lids and large plastic handles make them easy to transport and the special edge caster system allows them to be stacked on top of each other.

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