As the location for many international organizations’ headquarters, the Brussels region decided to strengthen urban security. To effectively accomplish this, they centralized video monitoring using the Genetec Security Center video surveillance solution.
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The Brussels Region is home to important key international institutions, such as the Council of the European Union and the headquarters of NATO. Including the city of Brussels itself, it includes 18 municipalities, each with their own administration. Up until 2013, the provision of video protection involved 10 services: six police stations, the metro (STIB), the Port of Brussels, the firefighting and emergency medical assistance service (SIAMU), and Bruxelles Mobilité (responsible for traffic, signaling and tunnels). This meant a combined total of 1,600 cameras, managed by eight different video protection systems.
In 2013, the Region entrusted to the Brussels Regional Informatics Center (BRIC) the task of streamlining regional video protection. “The problem was that we were unable to force all the services to switch to a shared system, because none of them have the same requirements, or the same regulations. This meant it was impossible for them to share the same tool. Installing one tool to manage all the systems was also impossible, as it would have been too complex to maintain compatibility over time,” recalls Christian Banken, regional security coordinator for the BRIC.
"Security Center is the only video protection solution that incorporates a unifying function: each service has a copy of the software, and everything is uploaded to the Region."
Christian Banken, Regional Security Coordinator for the Brussels Regional Informatics Center (BRIC)
Each service controls its images from its own center and decides which images can be shared with the Region, thanks to its individual copy of Security Center. “This allows us to respect the regulatory constraints. For example, only images from police cameras on the public roads are uploaded to the regional level, while images from cameras monitoring the borough remain at the station,” explains Christian Banken.
By deploying the same solution everywhere, there are no longer any technical constraints in terms of sharing images between the services and the Region. “Unlike other systems, Security Center transmits images using the multicast method – that is, as they are received – to both the public services and to the regional level. By mid-2017, the Region’s Security Center was already managing a pool of 700 public cameras,” adds Christian Banken.
If a service would like to view images that were made over three days ago and that are no longer stored on its local disks, its copy of Security Center independently searches for the respective images on the BRIC disk array. Reading these images is as easy as reading images locally.
Security Center takes advantage of a vast repository of extensions published by third parties. The Brussels Region uses ACIC Video Analytics, which displays an alert on the operator’s screen when illegal parking is detected; and BriefCam, which extracts all moving objects from a still background.
Security Center is installed in each of the data centers on dedicated servers. “Video protection must be separated from the rest of the infrastructure in order to ensure that it’s impossible to retrieve images from another system application,” explains Christian Banken.
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