Hikvision Surveillance System Secures ‘The Armadillo,’ A Repurposed Armored Truck Used by the Utica Police Department to Deter Crime
PTZ and turret security cameras, 360-degree video coverage, and extended storage and video recovery provide security for an armored truck used for video surveillance in high crime areas
A security system provided by Hikvision USA Inc., a leading provider of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and other emerging technologies, and the world’s largest manufacturer of video surveillance products and solutions, was installed by TAS Electronics of Yorkville, N.Y. to upgrade the Armadillo, a repurposed Brink's armored truck used by the Utica Police Department (UPD).
The Armadillo is deployed as a crime deterrent to specific locations based on community complaints, primarily for quality of life issues. It is also used as a deterrent to violent crime, especially involving gun violence, in locations where shots have been fired or where gun violence is likely to occur based on historical data and actionable police information, he added.
Hikvision’s technology, combined with TAS’ expertise, resulted in a resource that improves crime monitoring and deterrence, making the streets safer for the citizens of Utica.
When the UPD’s Armadillo was damaged in 2015, the surveillance system stopped working and the entire vehicle was taken out of commission. Once UPD received budget approvals for upgrades and repairs, they sought out the security expertise of Hikvision integrator TAS Electronics to provide a tailored surveillance system.
“When the decision was made to upgrade the Armadillo the immediate concern was the camera system, because it is the lifeblood of any high quality digital video recording network. Knowing this, we demanded the best equipment available,” said Edward Noonan, deputy chief of police for the UPD. “Hikvision and TAS Electronics provided us with high resolution cameras that have the ability to see in the dark, and we can control these cameras remotely through an app on our smartphones with remarkably high resolution.”
TAS Electronics excels at challenging projects that require innovative solutions. “No manufacturer has a surveillance kit designed for an armored vehicle,” said Tom Sheehy, system engineer principal at TAS. “We developed a custom solution to meet the unique application for our client using Hikvision technology.”
Video surveillance footage from the Armadillo’s security cameras can be streamed directly to the Mohawk Valley Crime Analysis Center, located in the Utica Police Department.
Requirement: A Waterproof and Weatherproof Mobile Surveillance Solution with Live Stream Capabilities and Up to 65 Days of Video Storage
For the upgrade, UPD had very clear expectations of the security system needed for the Armadillo. Criteria for the new surveillance system included the ability to store and recover video footage for up to 65 days, extended battery life enabling deployment of the Armadillo for up to seven days with continuous video surveillance, and live streamed video footage to the Mohawk Valley Crime Analysis Center. UPD also wanted mobile access so command staff could view video footage on their smartphones.
“After speaking with Tom from TAS Electronics, it became very apparent that he possessed a great deal of knowledge about the products, design and installation for the type of security system we were looking for,” said Noonan. “Tom was able to provide us with a top notch camera system that met all of our needs and he was able to install it on an unconventional vehicle while staying within our limited budget.” It was also helpful to use a local vendor to have direct support for any future questions or concerns, he added.
Tackling this project was “a daunting task,” said Sheehy, “because we looked at what had not worked with the original surveillance system and had to create a plan to avoid similar issues in the future.”
The previous security system, not a Hikvision surveillance system, had resolutions of 960H, cameras that were not watertight, and the old system lacked the clarity of the new Hikvision system. Image quality was so poor the UPD couldn’t tell if they were looking at a car, human or an animal, said Sheehy. “Now the UPD can see details such as a kid wearing a red hat or the numbers on a license plate,” Sheehy added.
Solution: Customized Hikvision Surveillance System with PTZ and Turret Camera Models and a 32-Channel NVR
“We’ve been working with Hikvision for nine years and found the wide range of products appealing,” said Sheehy. “Hikvision surveillance technology is great, the price points offer great value for the included features, and the complete system with brackets and mountings set Hikvision apart from the competition with a seamless, professional solution.”
The UPD was adamant about using pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras because individuals are unable to determine exactly where the PTZ is pointed. Sheehy recommended a mix of turret and PTZ models for the project including fixed-mount digital cameras and PTZ digital cameras, connected with a 32-channel Hikvision NVR, providing 360-degree panoramic coverage in the area surrounding the vehicle.
“Members of the Utica Police Department have the ability to stream the surveillance footage directly to their smartphones for around the clock monitoring using the Hikvision iVMS-4200 app. The improved video storage capacity using the Hikvision NVR greatly improves the investigative usefulness of the vehicle,” said Noonan. “Many times complaints from the public are reported long after the crime actually occurred. While this happens for a number of reasons, investigating officers now have the ability to go back nearly two months to pull and review surveillance footage, and that can often be key to a successful criminal case.”
A total of six Hikvision DS-2CD2342WD-I 4MP EXIR CMOS Network Turret cameras were installed, one on each corner of the vehicle and two centered in the middle. This camera features 120db WDR, high performance EXIR LED for better illumination than traditional IR, and IR range up to 100 feet.
Two Hikvision DS-2DE4220-AE 2MP Outdoor Network PTZ Dome cameras with 20 times optical zoom plus IP66 and IK10 vandal protection were installed to capture rear and front views from the vehicle. This camera model is equipped with smart detection including line crossing and intrusion detection, which UPD may use in the future, particularly to warn them if someone gets too close to the vehicle.
The Armadillo was originally a Brink's armored truck, constructed with hardened steel and bulletproof windows. “First we had to determine if we could screw through the roof because it’s armored," said Sheehy. “We were able to do that, but it took us a while using carbide bits.”
To install the Hikvision equipment, TAS had to secure the cameras using custom-made camera mounts that were welded to the roof. TAS inserted metal conduits down through the roof, connecting to the Hikvision box inside the vehicle. TAS equipped the vehicle with a commercial-grade wireless radio that provides broadband to the Hikvision NVR, allowing the UPD to communicate with it remotely.
Results: Tailored Surveillance System Meeting All Requirements with 360-degree, Panoramic Views, 24/7 Live Monitoring and Live Viewing Via Mobile App
To provide 65 days of video storage and recovery, TAS installed a 32-channel Hikvision Pro-Series DS-9616NI-I8 NVR with 12 TB of storage.
“The Hikvision NVR supports eight cameras and it is always best to avoid maxing out the system and have more power available than is needed,” said Sheehy. “We’ve had very good success with the Hikvision NVRs. As installers should do with any security systems, we keep the firmware up to date to minimize any security concerns.”
The 4MP turret cameras are set to 3MP to conserve energy. The UPD wanted to deploy the Armadillo for up to seven days with continuous video surveillance and recordings, which required extended battery life. Since there was not enough real estate on the Armadillo for solar to generate the required power, TAS customized a battery to provide maintenance-free power for the NVR and cameras.
“The upgraded battery system permits much longer deployment times, which allows us to leave the Armadillo at a specific location for a longer period of time,” said Noonan. Video is live streamed to the Mohawk Valley Crime Analysis Center where footage is monitored 24/7. The Hikvision iVMS app allows the staff to view video footage from their smartphones.
Hikvision’s technology, value and responsive customer service helped TAS deliver a custom surveillance solution for the unique Armadillo armored vehicle application. “Hikvision representatives are very responsive. When we encounter challenges, they are immediately available to help us find a solution,” said Sheehy.
The integrator’s expertise and willingness to create an innovative solution to meet the UPD’s requirements for Armadillo security resulted in an application that provides high resolution images, live streaming and remote viewing capability, and improved crime monitoring and deterrence in local communities.