The City of Miami Beach Police Department utilizes Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera systems equipment for various security and public safety deployments citywide, including:
Crime Prevention / Detection
Real Time Intelligence
City Facilities Security
Overt City Wide Deployments
Currently, there are a number of camera brands deployed throughout the City. However, a number of factors are making it necessary to standardize the types of equipment deployed to assure consistency in the video feeds and efficiency in the installation, maintenance and operations of the CCTV camera system city-wide. One factor expediting the need to standardize on a single system is the need to expeditiously deploy CCTV cameras across certain areas of the City. Many of these installations are funded by the GO Bond recently approved. Without a standard, every manufacturer available would need to be considered, a process that would significantly delay deployment of additional cameras, as well as increase costs because, to do so, a replacement of certain “backbone” components of any system could be necessary. The other concern with not having a standard is that disparate brands require customized programming which can impact the quality and format of the video feed generated by the video management software. The final factor in the need to standardize is that the CCTV camera market is continuing to experience a trend towards vertical consolidation. In other words, where manufacturers once offered only a portion of a system (e.g., camera, monitoring units or software, etc.), the industry trend is for vendors to integrate all components into a single integrated system where all components are interfaced by the manufacturer into a seamless system. An example of this would be Canon that has acquired its former competitor in the camera market, Axis, as well as the video management system provider, known as XProtect.
In consideration of creating a standard, the Police Department began conducting real-time testing of several cameras throughout the City and continues to evaluate performance daily. This includes cameras from manufactures such as Axis, Canon, Sony, Arecont and Samsung. Cameras are tested in different locations depending on need, such as traffic monitoring, general security awareness, and crowd awareness, especially in areas such as Ocean Drive, one of the busiest and challenging areas of Miami Beach. The Technical Operations Unit monitors the performance of the cameras which include handling light glare of oncoming traffic or the neon glow from signs and store fronts on Ocean Drive with the contrast of the darkness near the beach area.
The department has found Axis cameras to outperform other brands in several technical areas, including having “Optimized IR”, the first camera on the market having a directionally discreet PTZ dome camera with built-in IR (beach area) and laser focus. Another technology which made the Axis cameras stand out is having “Lightfinder” which make dark areas visible and capture detail in very low light, without the need for external light sources, thereby discerning color in low light better than the human eye, which is important when used for identifying a subject. Axis also has “Zipstream” technology which uses three kinds of intelligent algorithms to lower the bandwidth and storage requirements (both critical and costly to increase) while still ensuring relevant forensic information is not disturbed. Axis cameras also have the ability to deploy multiple camera sensors at a single location using one power source, and ultimately saving money by minimizing the need for several camera licenses, as well as additional mounting equipment. This transformed the Department’s ability to swap camera sensors and maximize the situational awareness by being able to clearly see persons and vehicles at locations where camera installations were already deployed. Crimes which would have never been solved due to the subject being unknown, have been caught and the subjects brought to justice, due to the multiple configurations the Department has been able to deploy utilizing Axis-brand camera technology.
In all Police Department testing of cameras, Axis cameras have proven their reliability to the Department with a less than 1% failure rate even in deployments exposed daily to saltwater, wind, heavy rain (to include Hurricane Irma) and sand. Another critical issue concerning camera brands is the security of remote access, “backdoors” or cyber vulnerability, which have wreaked havoc with other brands, sending sensitive video of investigations to unknown persons. Axis’ dedication to mitigate cyber risks recently earned them “Cyber Essentials” accreditation in the United Kingdom. Axis cameras have become the standard in destination city’s which we have partnered with, to include Las Vegas, Atlanta, Savannah, New Orleans, Orlando and Ft. Myers. Axis has also been the go-to brand of cameras covering several Super Bowl events, including recently in Houston, TX and Atlanta, GA.
Another critical component of a CCTV security system is the video management software that processes the feed from the cameras in the field and allows officers to view the footage. In 2018, the Police Department chose Milestone for its Video Management Software after testing during high impact events and daily usage. The Police Department, working in conjunction with the Information Technology Department, developed a plan to bridge the gap of disparate systems across the different City garages, parks and facilities; and further, move towards a citywide video management where all video would be centrally located and accessible by all authorized department personnel. This citywide vision began with the purchase of Milestone’s XProtect Corporate Video Management Software for the next six (6) years. A substantial investment in hardware and storage components through PD and IT meant the base groundwork was set to move this vision forward. Axis Communications cameras integration into the Milestone XProtect VMS further solidified the choice in Axis Cameras with the exclusive Axis Optimizer for Milestone XProtect. Axis Optimizer saves considerable time and effort to search for, download, install and configure all relevant plugins for Axis devices in XProtect, without additional field visits to the cameras or external web access, further securing the system. This integration was only possible after Canon Inc purchased Milestone and Axis Communication in order to have the best VMS and camera hardware seamlessly integrate to each other. Additionally, Canon’s latest acquisition, BriefCam, a video analytic and deep learning software, will bring a host of capabilities and algorithms offered under the Axis camera brand within the Milestone XProtect software. This ”holy trinity” of manufacturers under the Canon umbrella furthers our joint vision of seamless integration. The Police Department recently received a grant for the BriefCam software and is in the deployment phase. The Milestone VMS and Briefcam video analytics software, turns the infrastructure investment of over-300 Axis cameras from just video surveillance to actionable intelligence.
Finally, Axis continues to win product awards each year including over ten (10) in 2018 alone. Axis won the 2016 “Business Intelligence Group Sustainability Award.” Axis also was the bronze winner in the “Best Deployments in the USA” category for the Info Security 2019 Global Excellence Award, for its deployment in the City of New Orleans, LA. When the “Big Easy” announced its Citywide Public Safety Project, Axis cameras were selected as the camera hardware solution due to many of the reasons previously listed. The New Orleans deployment is almost identical to our current deployment, with additional integration into a real time crime center. The Axis camera models New Orleans selected are the same models we currently deploy, and for the same public safety reasons. New Orleans shares a similar problem with bright neon lights outside of business and the need to monitor crowds during many large event weekends. Please see this story for additional information: https://www.axis.com/files/success_stories/ss_cit_new_orleans_71989_en_1806_lo.pdf. Axis is also one of only five (5) camera manufacturers on the approved Florida Department of Transportation list.
While it would be possible to competitively solicit proposals from other system providers, doing so would present a couple of significant issues. First, given the vertical integration that is occurring in the industry, implementing another systems would require the City to forego its investment in the video management software which is the backbone of any camera system. Second, rather than deal with a single vendor for installation and maintenance, the Police Department would be required to coordinate among a number of vendors depending on how any new system is integrated. Finally, the time required to competitively solicit and to subsequently field test a new system would require the department to push back a number of priority security projects that have already been funded, either through the general fund or through the BO Bond project. Therefore, the Police Department is seeking to continue to use, and expand, Axis Communications cameras and hardware for the numerous reasons stated previously. As such, the Department firmly believes it would be in the best interest of the City to standardize the purchases of Axis Communications cameras equipment and services for the successful continuation of the City’s public safety initiatives.
Axis Success Stories: