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Sony Ipela Cameras Aid Rebirth of Philadelphia’s Manufacturing District


After suffering many years of urban decay, Philadelphia’s Port Richmond section is poised to rebound in part by an IP-based security system using Sony IPELA® third-generation network cameras.

The system is part of an initiative by the Port Richmond Industrial Development Enterprise (PRIDE), a public-private partnership formed by owners and managers of industrial enterprises aimed to restore safety and prosperity for individuals and businesses in the area.

The DEPA or Distributed Enhanced Processing Architecture-enabled system that was installed leverages the SNC-RX550N PTZ cameras’ onboard analytic capabilities combined with OnSSI’s IP-surveillance software platform. The end result, according to PRIDE officials, is a “smart system” that is capable of remotely detecting alarm events, conserving network resources and server storage space, and reducing the need for manual monitoring.

“We see this as a pilot project for the entire community, a common sense solution to the challenges facing our city’s manufacturing and economic development needs,” said Steve Jurash, PRIDE president. “At first, we thought we would have to pay for live monitoring of the system. But the advanced analytic capabilities save us this considerable expense.”

Reclaiming an Area’s Safety and Productivity

According to Jurash, the installation of the DEPA-based system is part of a multi-year strategic plan adopted in 2005 (PRIDE was formed in 2000 with approximately 100 companies). At that time, one out of five enterprises was considering relocating from Port Richmond because of the increasingly poor conditions in what was once a thriving industrial area. Rising crime rates had created an atmosphere that was increasingly unlivable for both residents and businesses.

The redevelopment plan looked at numerous factors that were driving the desire to leave and security concerns topped the list. Jurish says that research into emerging technologies showed that IP-based video surveillance offered the best value for what PRIDE hoped to accomplish. A request for proposals for a system to cover the four-block area covering PRIDE’s boundaries was issued in late 2005.

Controlled Access LLC, a New Jersey-based electronic security system provider, won the contract and the system went live in February. A key factor in Controlled Access’ proposal was the choice of the Sony IPELA® SNC-RX550N PTZ cameras. Aside from their exceptional imaging qualities delivered over minimal bandwidth through the use of MPEG4 compression, their onboard analytics proved, according to company officials, the key to cost-effective operation.

“We let the Sony cameras do the work touring the area and identifying trouble,” said Casey Guagenti, vice president and general manager for Controlled Access, LLC. “The RX550 units’ really do a wonderful job balancing the need for efficient use of bandwidth with the need for sharp, evidentiary-quality images.”

Guagenti said the key to the successful installation was working closely with both PRIDE businesses and the local police to determine the best locations for the cameras to optimize coverage.

The onboard analytics are programmable to recognize alarm behaviors such as when a car idles too long in a spot or individuals linger on a street corner. Fine-tuning the system over the months ahead will come after observing the video and determining how best to focus in on crime hot spots.

“We will be working with the police to pin down the signs of trouble and set the cameras to trigger alarms when those occur,” Guagenti said. We’re doing all we can to help them in their work by giving them this added street intelligence.”

According to Guagenti, to reduce the need for live monitoring, the system sends alarm messages – and video – via e-mail as needed. Ultimately, the goal of PRIDE is to stream live video to police cruisers responding to such events. Business owners will also have access to images. Guagenti says that future plans also include adding additional back-end analytic capabilities to add even greater intelligence.

“This has been a valuable learning experience in that we discovered how important it is to work with a reseller/integrator that fully understands this new technology,” Jurash said. “Now that we have seen what it can do, we feel that this invaluable not only for PRIDE and Port Richmond but also for others facing these same challenges.”

While Guagenti has been absorbed in the professional task of designing and installing this advanced system, he has also taken a personal interest given the tremendous outpouring of community support for the project.

“This neighborhood has been in decline for 20 years, but there is still a vital spark of manufacturing and the infrastructure to support it, which includes lots of hard-working residents looking for opportunities,” Guagenti said. “It is gratifying to help bring forward a security technology that is able to transform lives by helping restore this community,”


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