Rolling on the river
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Texas--Adesta, a systems integrator specializing in critical infrastructure installations, has won a $958,000 contract with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to install an IP/wireless video surveillance system along the banks of the Sabine and Neches rivers here. Cameras will be installed at remote locations along a large stretch between Beaumont and Port Arthur, with video streaming back to both the United States Coast Guard Vessel Tracking Station and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Construction began in June and will be completed in early 2008.
Keith Jansen, an Adesta engineer who helped craft the bid proposal, said the riverside installation is "a little different, but to a certain degree fits in with the work we've done in ports, as you've got to manage the channels coming in and out of the ports." He said Jefferson County had already put together a conceptual design, specifying wireless communication for example, so Adesta simply had to take that concept and turn it into something practical. Analog cameras paired with encoders are being installed, "but from that point back in, it's an all IP-based network," Jansen said.
Chief Walter Billingsly, with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, said the system's success relies on a number of partnerships with private entities he's developed through the Sabine/Neches Chief's Association, which brings a number of public and private stakeholders to a monthly meeting where issues of safety and security are discussed. "A fireman might go to a conference and see something we need," said Billingsly, "but someone from Exxon-Mobile might see something at a conference, too. It makes good use of everybody's resources."
In the case of the river surveillance system, it also allowed Billingsly to place cameras on private property. This, however, also added some challenges for Jansen and Adesta. "One location required equipment that was explosion-proof," said Jansen, "which wasn't protecting the camera from explosion, but was protecting from the camera causing an explosion with a spark."
As for the purpose of the system, Billingsly said it was largely to augment his patrolling ability. "We get some calls from citizens, saying that there's a suspicious boat or what have you, and most of the time it's fishermen. But sometimes they're taking pictures and it makes people nervous. Now we can look at it a lot quicker and determine what it is before having somebody respond."
This, and budget restraints, kept video analytics out of the picture, Billingsly said. "That might be an add-on feature in the future, but everything is funding. We used every bit of funding that we had to get the most out of it. The ability to be able to see the waterway was the first critical part of it. Alarm systems can come on later if we see the need for it."