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Borough of Columbia, PA

January 29 2016
Case Study • January 2016
Borough of Columbia, PA

Columbia collage

Introduction

App-Techs has worked with the Borough of Columbia, Pennsylvania, since 2010, to install and maintain a video surveillance system with coverage in certain downtown areas, various parks, its historic Market House farmers market, and various municipal properties.

Background

Mayor Leo Lutz shared that, initially, the Borough of Columbia was asked by its business alliance members to provide more safety and security in the downtown area. They also wanted to install more security for the Borough office. The former Borough manager and council were able to include the necessary surveillance equipment in a downtown beautification grant.

Chief of Police Jack Brommer "inherited the system" when he took office in 2011, and has since expanded it. He commented, "For a smaller municipality like ours, with a population of 10,400 and 20 officers on the force, surveillance systems could provide more areas of coverage and allow us to enhance our patrol coverage of the borough."

Solutions

App-Techs equipped the Borough with a security solution that included our EasyNVR server and software, as well as our HUM and DMap monitoring tools. Our technology offers mobile access if needed, from cell phones and police cruisers. The system utilizes Milestone XProtect video management software ("VMS").

In terms of wireless networking and connectivity to remote cameras, we implemented both point-to-point, short-range links between radios, and also general coverage through a mesh network that finds an alternate path to transmit data back to the video server if a single wireless access or aggregation point fails. The wireless nodes are installed at various locations around town, as well as 80 feet up on the "Farm Tower". That particular link, to the Farm Tower facilitates a network microwave backhaul, providing a long-range, two-mile wireless connection between the "head-end" and Columbia's more remote locations,

The surveillance cameras are all IP / network-based and high-resolution. Many are also PTZ cameras, so their field-of-view may be controlled by operators and dispatch personnel through the use of a joystick. Camera locations include traffic intersections, streets in high-risk areas of the Borough, parks, Borough facilities, and the River Park Services buildings by the Susquehanna River.

We worked with PPL to obtain "pole permissions" for attaching some of the equipment onto public utility poles throughout the community. A public-private partnership enabled video surveillances at a private park in the community. The private sector provided funding for cameras, equipment and installation, and the public sector oversees monitoring, communication and maintenance for the park's system.

 

Remote access technology allows us to provide "round-the-clock" support, so that we can "be there" whenever Columbia calls, and we can promptly diagnose and resolve problems.

Results

The system provides live video feeds 24 / 7 / 365, which police dispatchers monitor through a dedicated workstation with multiple monitors.

Chief Brommer stated that installing and expanding security systems has helped create "additional eyes in residential areas and parks. With the click of a mouse, you can monitor these areas. It creates greater exposure for the department. We can't have an officer at every location, but this expands our reach, especially in the downtown business area." He also said, "The system assists in our investigations. For example, it recently helped us capture an accident involving a pedestrian."

He shared that the borough had issues with their River Park, and at Columbia Crossings within River Park, where they've installed additional cameras. "Prior to installing cameras and improving lighting, we had unlawful activities such as vandalism, underage drinking, drug activity, and burglary. We've seen a reduction in these unlawful activities."

Brommer went on to add, "Since becoming chief of police, I've expanded the system into our neighborhoods with chronic issues of crime and quality of life." Brommer has heard neighbors in certain areas remark that the surveillance systems have caused drug dealers to move out of their neighborhoods.

Regarding his experience with App-Techs, Chief Brommer said project manager Andrew Haefner and co-founder/president Dan Fritsch have been very helpful in receiving and answering questions staff may have about systems and equipment, and learning to better tap the technology's potential. Brommer states, "Dan told my dispatchers they can call anytime day or night. As far as customer service in the corporate world, in my experience that's rare. App-Techs goes above and beyond."

To learn more about how App-Techs can help your organization, call 717-735-0848, contact our sales department, or visit our website.