5 Cutting-Edge Uses of Broadcast-Quality Video in Public Safety

Here’s how public safety agencies around the world use live video for improved incident prevention and response.

5 Cutting-Edge Uses of Broadcast-Quality Video in Public Safety

Photo courtesy LiveU

The role of broadcast-quality video in public safety is growing, due to the demand for effective situational awareness and command and control communication solutions. Here are five tactical use cases for video in the public sector.

1. Live HD Video for Situational Awareness

A range of technologies are currently used for mobile and remote situational awareness – including sensors, AI, object recognition, different types of software and more – but a primary source still originates in video.

The question is: what’s being done with that video? What we’re seeing is an increasing demand for broadcast-quality video for the public sector and public safety. Unmanned aerial system (UAS) video is often used for SWAT, firefighting, search and rescue (SAR) and other emergency response applications.

In the simplest terms, the drone is “a camera with wings” – and coupled with a live streaming encoder, can reliably transport what’s coming from the camera lens back to the command center and to people on the ground live. Helicopters are also used for airborne firefighting, for example, in Spain and Chile, where Pegasus Aviación uses the workflow for greater visibility.

In urban and rural fire fighting, live video technology can be used with heat mapping systems to help keep people out of harm’s way. This application takes live video images and uses it with a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) camera, a remote sensing method that can measure the temperature several miles from the main fire area.

The same integrated solution can be used for constructional analysis, sending in a robot to take measurements and check if a building is constructed according to safety regulations.

2. Real-Time Video from the Field and Intel Gathering

In SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) situations, every second counts. Video reliability and low latency – with no interruptions – is essential for operational awareness. Video feeds from the sky play a crucial role, with the growing use of more cost-effective and tactical UAS often better suited to the task than a helicopter.

This UAS technology can provide 360-degree awareness to be shared and watched by senior command back at headquarters. The video can then be transmitted in real-time to the people on the ground to view on their phone, or other small devices.

Live video capture is used by police departments and forces worldwide for evidence gathering and remote surveillance from the control room, as we saw in the UK with Derbyshire Police.

For aviation, maritime, and border control, authorities often use professional cameras on-board helicopters. This is particularly relevant in the case of SAR, which represents a large percentage of these incidents. Coastguards can view broadcast-quality video feeds from the helicopters and give radio instructions to the helicopters and their teams on the boats to help find anyone lost at sea.

3. Urban Fixed Surveillance

Custom trailers are increasingly being used to monitor large events and crowd management during demonstrations and marches, for example, fitted with advanced video technology. High-quality, reliable, and secure video encoders have the capabilities to transmit up to video feeds simultaneously, which provides a more efficient way of managing cameras than traditional “duct tape” and routers methods. Cellular bonding can also be used with Starlink, for example.

Ease of use and deployment is essential in all these situations. Most of the teams using these tools are not technical, and the situations often arise at a moment’s notice. Traditional solutions with radio and microwave antennas take a few days to set up. In comparison, cellular bonded portable encoders can be set up very quickly, and moved in a matter of minutes, in case of civil unrest for example. Agility is key; those in charge can transmit the video immediately to the teams handling the situation on the ground.

4. Video Management Systems and Interoperability

HD video is mandatory for content analysis, face recognition, and artificial intelligence (AI). Police departments and other public authorities usually have video management system (VMS) technology installed so interoperability with the systems is essential.

Reliable and resilient transport makes this even smoother and more reliable for handling developing situations. This is more and more relevant for air and maritime port security, and unfortunately for school and campus security with the significant increase in mass shootings.

Infrastructure budgets are increasing, and technology such as IP video (live transport of video) offers a valuable add-on to camera solutions, providing the live feeds directly to command control for a fast response.

5. Disaster Management/Recovery Interagency Video Sharing

Disaster recovery is another area where live video and drones comes into play. For example, the French Catastrophe Rescue Group (GSCF) utilized drone streams to provide remote access to disaster scenes for timely first response.

For the Los Angeles Fire Department, live video worked flawlessly in remote areas, where the infrastructure was compromised, or connectivity was limited, to update emergency operations teams during California wildfires.

In the Caribbean, a Costa Rica Firefighters’ Crisis Room was created with live video at the core for situational analysis of emergency operations and natural disaster recovery.

In an emergency, public sector agencies work together to save lives and need the ability to share reliable video. Interoperability is critical as they may be using disparate systems. After 9/11, the need for agency collaboration was deemed vital, therefore a drive to have full interoperable communications began. This continues to gain momentum in the light of ongoing tragedies and other emergency situations.

Collaboration and communication are key in these ever-evolving situations. Many municipalities leverage this workflow to coordinate among first responders and to communicate with the public.

“During a mass incident, when the city’s unified command is deployed, there’s a need to put out messages to the public quickly and bandwidth is a crucial component. It’s important to get information out to the community and a reliable, high-quality stream makes it possible,” noted Sergeant Hector Guzman, LAPD.

Climate change is now having a growing impact on the public sector as well, affecting the work of fire services, utilities, and agriculture. Live video is set to play an increasing role in the holistic solutions being used to monitor various situations.


Janet Brown is the public sector director for LiveU Inc. This article originally appeared in CS sister publication Security Sales & Integration and has been edited.

Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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