Camera images have developed to become an important tool in the Liège police zone’s work. The first cameras were installed as early as 2005 and the police then gradually increased the number of cameras, as well as installing their own fibreglass network. “The cameras have very diverse functions,” says Roberto Bertini, Deputy Director of the Telematics Department at Liège police zone. “We use them for traffic checks, such as to see who is entering or leaving the city, where there are queues and so on. The cameras offer us a view of the public order, at demonstrations and large events, for example. They also provide images that can be used in a legal context, such as during a judicial investigation.”
Too little storage space
Today the Liège police zone’s 137 cameras are managed centrally from the headquarters. The police have a Video Monitoring System (VMS) in order to request and view images. “Over time, more and more cameras have been added,” says Roberto Bertini. “The resolution of the camera images is also increasing.” This results in new requirements in terms of data storage. According to the law, the local police can store the images for a month. At the Liège police zone, the available storage volume had fallen so much that the images had to be removed to make space for new recordings after a maximum of three days. The existing solution did not make use of storage consolidation. Various storage technologies and tools were also available. This resulted in a lack of flexibility and scalability in the storage environment. The existing solution also offered too little performance to support new HD cameras.
Capacity and bandwidth
Through a public tender, the Liège police zone offered the various storage-solution providers the opportunity to put together a proposal. EMC Isilon – with Proximus as integrator – came out as the best choice. Proximus introduced the proof of concept for the NAS platform on location with the police. “The most important thing is that we now have a sufficiently large and reliable storage environment,” says Roberto Bertini. “Our requirements in terms of capacity and bandwidth are covered, including for multi-cast recordings in HD. At the same time, the solution includes redundant expansion, which eliminated the risk of images being lost. In the long term, we will also be able to extend the solution easily.” In the old storage solution the Liège police zone had 30 TB. The new solution offers 400 TB.
Live image material
“This will provide us with a solution through which we can store images from our cameras without any problems for two to three weeks,” says Roberto Bertini. “Sometimes the request for specific images from a certain camera only comes a couple of days or weeks later, during the investigation into an accident, theft or other incident, for example. It is therefore important that we have a storage environment in which we can retain the image material for long enough.” Not only our own police service, but also other police zones and the prosecution service can request recorded images. Alongside the use of recordings, the police also use live images. This takes place in the Centre de Gestion des Caméras, where five employees work with the cameras in realtime. They help keep an eye on things. Through the cameras, they often see more than the officers on the street.”
Liège police zone has 185,000 inhabitants, making it the third largest police zone in the country, after Antwerp and Brussels. The local police in Liège consists of around 1,200 employees.
Roberto Bertini is Deputy Director of the Telematics Department for the Liège police zone. He began his career 32 years ago with the Belgian state police. Since 1995 he has been specialised in ICT applications for the police.
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