Page 38 - Security Today, January/February 2021
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“Suddenly, municipalities have to balance maintaining the security of their information with enabling people to work from home.”
town core, can improve the flow of traffic and ensure that associated businesses run smoothly.
One of the ways municipalities do this is by using ALPR systems to ensure that people aren’t parking longer than they should or aren’t using unauthorized spots. By reducing frustrations around parking, a municipality can encourage people to visit often, which, in turn, helps local businesses to thrive.
Many have also upgraded their park- ing lots from traditional gates to ALPR systems. Traditional systems involve slow processes that require drivers to stop and interact with a kiosk or parking attendant. With an ALPR-based system, cameras read license plates as vehicles enter and exit a lot. In lots with limited stays, the system can notify drivers through an app when their time is up.
Municipalities are also using ALPR to manage volume in their parking decks. They use it to identify open spots on vari- ous floors and direct drivers accordingly. This reduces the amount of time people spend circling a parking deck, which, again, reduces visitor stress and encourages peo- ple to come downtown more often.
But it’s not just about parking. ALPR solu- tions are also being used to help commuters get to work. For example, by reading license plates in one area of a city and then again in another, you can determine how long it takes vehicles to travel that distance. With this information, municipalities can adjust traffic lights or speed limits to improve the flow of traffic at peak times.
All of these solutions contribute to making a city operate more efficiently and allow people and vehicles to move more ef- fectively. With less traffic and reduced con- gestion, you create better experiences for people and businesses in your municipality.
In our rapidly changing world, cities are discovering the importance of technology for enhancing the lives of their citizens. Whether it requires adjusting how we work or how we manage sensitive data, collabo- rating with vendors to develop innovative solutions to improve the flow of people and information is helping cities provide a bet- ter quality of life for ev-
Bob Carter is the com- mercial head, Justice & Public Safety and Cities, Genetec Inc.
digital evidence management system from Genetec, the request process is fully auto- mated. Using the portal, anyone wanting to access video footage must first identify and select the individual video sources. Af- ter marking the appropriate time frames, the individual then clicks to submit their request through the cloud-based evidence management system.
At this point, MPD video system op- erators are notified through their physical security system about the request. Once the request is authorized, the evidence manage- ment system automatically pulls the video from the physical security system, fulfills that request, and saves a record for audit- ing purposes. With this automated process, the requestor no longer has to pick up a physical copy of the footage, install a video player to review the content, and possibly repeat the request process if the footage is not what they needed.
Automating much of the process and connecting these systems saves hours — if not days — of work. But the only way to arrive at this solution was for Genetec to understand the police department’s actual needs. Because of their open communica- tion with the MPD, the team at Genetec understood how important it was to create a workflow that was more efficient and to ensure that the process could be audited. They also knew that the police department wanted to be able to keep a record of all their requests and needed to know when requests had been fulfilled.
TO INCLUDE THE PRIVATE SECTOR Building on this solution for evidence man- agement, Genetec has also been working on finding innovative ways to help mu- nicipalities interact with the private sector. One project has been to make it easier to construct a dedicated webpage that enables businesses to self-register their public-fac- ing cameras.
Including business-owned cameras in a public network is beneficial for everyone. When law enforcement has access to more information, they can undertake investiga- tions with greater understanding. These ef- forts can reduce crime at the neighborhood level, which benefits local business owners.
But adding private systems and cam- eras can increase administrative tasks for
already overworked municipal employees. The solution is to create a camera registry inside the digital evidence management sys- tem that documents and organizes infor- mation. Then, when the police department investigates a particular area of a city, it can see which businesses have public-facing cameras and send those businesses an email request for their content.
In the past, everything was done man- ually. It required investigators to look through spreadsheets that listed businesses and their cameras. The process was built on the, often misguided, assumption that those spreadsheets were up to date. It then relied on investigators to add footage to case files on their own.
Now, businesses receive a link with the request form and can then upload their footage directly into a case file through the webpage. By automating the process within the evidence management system, Gene- tec has been able to increase efficiency and greatly reduce the time required to request and access footage from private businesses.
What is becoming clear in municipali- ties is that technology can play a key role in helping law enforcement and other entities, including private businesses, keep people safe. This benefits everyone. Safe cities at- tract businesses, foster innovation, and pro- vide countless opportunities.
BRING PEOPLE TO A CITY’S CORE Technology can also help municipalities make better-informed decisions around pub- lic planning. One interesting example is how some have been able to improve the quality of life for their citizens with automatic li- cense plate recognition (ALPR) systems.
The role of ALPR in municipalities con- tinues to evolve. In the past, most systems were used in just two ways. They were either deployed for parking enforcement, where ALPR was synced with a pay-by-plate sys- tem, or for investigations when law enforce- ment was looking for a vehicle involved in a crime. Now, municipalities are using ALPR solutions to improve the quality of life as well.
Many have expanded their parking en- forcement processes to include parking management. Curbside parking, including for deliveries and taxies, is very important in cities. Managing vehicles through these areas effectively, especially in the down-

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