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The City of Chicago’s OEMC and IBM Launch Advanced Video Surveillance System


IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new project with the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) to implement one of the most advanced city-wide intelligent security system ever conceived. The engagement is a part of Chicago’s Operation Virtual Shield, a project that encompasses one of the world’s largest video security deployments.

In collaboration with its business partners Firetide and Genetec, IBM has successfully deployed the infrastructure build-out for Operation Virtual Shield with plans to expand the network throughout the city. In the first phase, IBM helped the City experts and network engineers to design and implement a surveillance strategy infrastructure to capture, monitor and fully index video for real-time and forensic-related safety applications. This entailed building a unified fiber network throughout the downtown Chicago area, deploying a critical wireless infrastructure to offer flexibility as required, installing hundreds of new surveillance cameras, linking thousands of preexisting cameras to the network, and creating a fully redundant backend system to monitor the video, store the images and allow for business continuity and disaster recovery applications.
The Chicago OEMC and IBM are now teaming to expand the surveillance system and to add analytics that provide license plate recognition, trending projections and intelligent search capabilities to the existing infrastructure. Chicago’s security solution is designed to provide several benefits to both city officials and citizens including: real-time video surveillance intelligence for proactive homeland security monitoring; faster response time to emergencies; more effective deployment of emergency responders; and increased travel efficiency through traffic congestion tracking.

“Mayor Richard M. Daley has had, for many years, a grand plan to incorporate cameras from public entities and private sector businesses into a single unified system allowing first responders access to real time visual data,” said Tony Ruiz, Executive Director of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. “IBM is helping enable the City of Chicago’s vision for intelligent security.”

Operation Virtual Shield was designed to allow advanced detection and notification systems such as IBM’s Smart Surveillance Solution to be plugged-in and tuned as necessary to address new threats. The Smart Surveillance Solution deployment with Chicago is a first-of-a-kind implementation to help bring intelligence to city security. This concept was sparked by the power and capabilities of the City’s existing high-tech multi-million dollar command and control center. The surveillance network is designed to allow city officials to monitor such mundane activities as traffic patterns on a day-to-day basis, while also being able to detect suspicious activity and potential public safety concerns from a centrally monitored system.

“Cities today are faced with ever-increasing threats and advanced security surveillance systems can be a critical component in ensuring safety,” said Mike Daniels, senior vice president, IBM Global Technology Services. “IBM is proud to be a part of Operation Virtual Shield and the City of Chicago’s visionary approach to homeland security.”

One key factor to the success of the project is Firetide, an IBM business partner whose wireless network infrastructure supports a wide range of fixed and mobile wireless public safety applications including covert and overt video surveillance, traffic control, VoIP communications, and rapid database access. Firetide’s wireless technology is instrumental in allowing the city to deploy a large number of additional cameras in the exact locations required, an option which would have been too costly to implement solely on fiber. Firetide’s unique technology allows real-time video to be transported wirelessly, thereby saving taxpayers millions of dollars in wired infrastructure costs. IBM is also testing mobile technology utilizing Firetide’s infrastructure to allow first responders access to the video system via mobile vehicles such as police and fire.

IBM chose Genetec’s Omnicast as the main video management platform for building the Operation Virtual Shield system. Omnicast is the most advanced IP-based video surveillance recording software in the industry. Genetec’s Omnicast incorporates virtually any type of camera be it IP-based, or analog via encoders, on to a common platform. In addition, Omnicast allows products such as IBM’s Smart Surveillance Solution to be easily integrated into the system. This capability along with Omnicast’s ability to integrate other Genetec fixed or mobile systems throughout the City will allow the Smart Surveillance Solution to analyze video streams multiple cameras, anywhere no matter if it is a sister agency camera or one from a private enterprise.


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