San Diego County’s juvenile detention center, like many across the country, is co-located with the sheriff’s department and the probation center. Like many others as well, its equipment for surveillance, security and monitoring was becoming dated and unreliable. A county refurbishment process included radios and video, in addition to a new backup uninterruptible power source (UPS) system.
The facility had previously been using VCRs, which occasionally malfunctioned and could potentially lose valuable video images. In addition, the security system equipment is all located in the communications room so if the VCRs had failed at some point, no one would know until they entered the control room to look at the images. With the new system, if a DVR fails, an alert system notifies operators. Additionally, the command center was also previously without electricity in the event of a power failure. With the new backup UPS in place, the control room and DVRs can continue operation, even in the case of unexpected events like a riot or bad weather.
Integrating the new surveillance was more complex than plugging in the 80 Toshiba cameras used at the complex to new Mitsubishi DVR recorders. The new plan called for a blending of the new video gear with access control and other systems through a computer network spread over five locations, each with its own authorization codes. The nerve center is the communications room, which houses five Mitsubishi DX-TL5000 DVRs; it also houses the computer network hub that interconnects the five different locations. Within the communications room there are dedicated monitors connected to each DVR that show the activity of that unit which is connected to a local computer that can log onto any DVR and load or download information from the unit.
Access to the computers, and thus the network, requires that the proper pass code be entered from the proper computer. So, for example, someone from one office cannot access the surveillance computers in another office unless they have the proper password.
According to Al Bitarafan of Security Systems Techniques in San Diego, the system allows the facility personnel to monitor from a remote location, or record or play back from any one of those workstations. “The system also lets the operator save images from any one of the DVRs with the proper password,” he notes.
“Before we put the system in,” Bitarafan says, “we demonstrated against several others. They opted for the Mitsubishi system, which is Linux-based, because the system is robust, reliable and easy to use.”
The networked system allows supervisors to both monitor and play back activities from any of the remote locations without having to go to the communications room location. It therefore provides the same access as operators in the communications room.
Now, five different locations have access with varying levels of accessibility (such as whether they can download and save or record). The system is designed to accommodate growth, so additional systems can be connected should the county want to expand. And it would be a simple matter to add the access particular to those operators in each department.
“This system is especially important in a detention facility,” Bitarafan maintains, “because if there is a problem inside, the necessary supervisors can immediately access the video surveillance information from their remote locations without having to relocate to the main room to retrieve it.”
The system is based on the Mitsubishi DX-PC55U software, which allows remote access of recorded live video footage, as well as remote programming functionality.
Control features such as PTZ control of dome cameras, various frame rates and resolution settings are all accessible from one screen with the new software. Live or pre-recorded images can be easily captured and saved to the monitoring PC’s hard drive, thus permitting easy search and playback of recorded images. Images can be monitored in full screen and on the same screen. From the same monitoring station, the operator can access split, sequence and channel selection of video images from a Mitsubishi DVR.
In all, the new security system at the San Diego Juvenile Detention Center enables greater freedom of movement and more immediate access of surveillance footage for the facility supervisors.