Ville de Forbach
Historic French city located on the border of Germany, invests in Security Center unified platform for video surveillance and access control to protect citizens and deter petty crime, while preserving the authenticity of historical monuments.
Located on then north-eastern side of France, just on the border of Germany, is the city of Forbach. Its rich history is showcased by The Schlossberg, a castle that dates back to mid-15th century. Although charcoal mining once contributed to the original influx of residents, today its population sits at about 20,000 people, with another 80,000 spread around its outskirts. As in most small cities around world, the city of Forbach was dealing with petty crimes such as vandalism and instances of theft which left a general concern for the safety of its citizens.
Although Forbach's police department had a small video monitoring system in place, requirements to add more cameras to more vulnerable areas soon became problematic. According to Mr. Patrice Karp, Technical Manager at the City of Forbach, "We were restricted in terms of further system development. It wasn't as flexible as we needed it to be in regards to camera choice and connectivity."
The City of Forbach recruited help from long-time partners in information technology services and integration specialists of IP video surveillance, Sigma IP. As a Genetec certified integrator, Sigma IP proposed Genetec's Security Center, its unified security platform, which would accommodate their video surveillance needs of added growth and network flexibility, while also providing Synergis, the access control component, to secure the door at their command center, called CSU (Centre de Surveillance Urbaine).
"Although these cities might only need video surveillance today, one of the key differentiators and benefits of Security Center is the fact that they can easily add access control when the need arises in the future. Other systems out there cannot offer the seamless integration with applications like access control or number plate recognition, so Security Center provides the reassurance that their investment can accommodate future demands," explained Mr. Sylvain Hagenbourger, Consultant at SLK.
Using History as the Catalyst for Cutting-Edge City Surveillance
Today Security Center's Omnicast video surveillance system manages over 38 IP cameras from vendors Sony and Arecont Vision. These cameras are spread throughout the city's most vulnerable areas. Some High Definition (HD) Sony cameras (SNC-CS50P, SNC-Z25P, SNC-RX550P, SNC-CH180, SNC-EP550) were installed in critical areas where there were concerns about lighting or video quality, and the rest are in fixed locations such as on main avenues, or outside schools and other important structures.
Of the 38 cameras, 14 of them are Arecont Vision multi-lens cameras (AV20185 or AV20365) from the SurroundVideo® series. According to Marc Houpert, General Manager at Sigma IP, "Not only does the client get either 180 or 360-degree views of their environment, but in Omnicast, these cameras count as one license. So they really have well over 90 cameras views in their system."
Mostly, the cameras are connected back to the central server located in city hall via a robust and intricate wireless network, custom-designed by Sigma IP. With about 18TB of storage, the city is able to preserve recordings for 15 days. "We suggested they move away from fiber optics cabling to a more centralized architecture, where we would use the Schlossberg Tower as a wireless bridge to transmit all video to a central server in the town hall," said Mr. Serge Delfino, Technical Manager at Sigma IP.
The municipal police are responsible for managing the system, and use it mainly to conduct investigations once an incident is reported. To easily locate the cameras in the city during critical investigations undertaken by the national police, the city of Forbach is using Security Center's map-based interface, Plan Manager. Without necessarily knowing the ins and outs of the city, federal investigators can find the cameras they need, and conduct quick searches based on time of day to pull evidence. "Plan Manager is a key component required by cities, especially those with a growing number of cameras and devices. It just makes our lives easier," said Hagenbourger.
"The functionality that Omnicast offers, like Auxiliary and failover archiving, mobile capabilities, remote monitoring, and the fact that the system is extremely intuitive for the end user, has also been instrumental in the success of this upgrade," continues Mr. Houpert.
Taking the Next Steps with Limitless Growth
To date, the city of Forbach has seen tremendous success with their Security Center system. From apprehending vandals to addressing more instances of theft, physical confrontations and street crimes, the system has proven its worth.
"We have been very happy to resolve and clarify reports of incidents thanks to the new system," said Mr. Karp. "We have also been able to apprehend suspects, which helps us justify adding an additional 20 cameras to certain areas where we want to deter more crime and vandalism. Thanks to Security Center, this is much easier to undertake, and our citizens feel safer."
Mr. Michel Fersing, Municipal Police Chief at the City of Forbach, also added: "The ease of use and the speed at which we can retrieve information is extremely impressive. Our operators were trained in the morning and fully operational in the afternoon, and can now easily interact with all our cameras and doors from a map of our city. Today, I can say with full confidence that every national police officer leaves our department with video evidence, within minutes. Security Center has been an instrumental addition to our city's security and we cannot be more pleased with our new unified platform."
Other important additions to the system include expanding the Synergis access control system beyond the one door, possibly into other municipal buildings, as well as doing some custom development work to leverage the audio capabilities of certain cameras for some unique parking applications.
In a final statement, Mr. Karp offered the following advice to other cities contemplating a switch to Security Center: "The openness and unification of the platform were important factors when choosing the solution. Effectively, we now have a system that doesn't limit our development and growth."