Alaskan Community Standardizes on Genetec Omnicast Video Surveillance

The community of Barrow uses the surveillance system to protect its public facilities and school district.

Located above the Arctic Circle, the community of Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States. About 1,300 miles (2,100 km) south of the North Pole on the Chukchi Sea Coast, the city is home to just over 4,000 people. Barrow is also the hub for the North Slope Borough’s seven arctic coastal villages, where another 5,000 people reside.

Even as a small city, the community is still susceptible to random acts of violence and crime. In an effort to better secure its public facilities, the community of Barrow decided to upgrade its city-wide surveillance, and standardize on a more robust IP-based video surveillance system.

After considering many solutions, the North Slope Borough selected Genetec Omnicast IP video surveillance and eventually enlisted the expertise of Arctic Fire & Security, a highly-knowledgeable and certified Alaskan-based integrator for installation and maintenance. Omnicast is part of the Genetec unified security platform, Security Center, which offers advanced functionality like an intuitive mobile client, a map-based interface and more capabilities.

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Police Department Improves Remote Village Operations
Currently, Omnicast is managing just over 110 cameras throughout numerous public facilities in Barrow, including the fire and police departments, the Children’s Youth Services (CYS) facility, Arctic Women in Crisis (AWIC) facility and senior citizen facility. Each organization monitors and manages its own Omnicast system, reviewing and exporting video archives when necessary.

With all the systems up and running, the North Slope Borough Police Department (NSBPD) has expanded its surveillance to nearby village precincts, improving its remote operations. The NSBPD installed the Genetec SV-PRO, a network security appliance which comes pre-loaded with Omnicast, at its police precincts in the villages of Point Hope, Nuiqsut and Kaktovik, adding 10 to 12 cameras to each facility.

While monitoring and video playback is available at each precinct from the SV-PRO, the video is also linked to the main police precinct in the Community of Barrow, about 300 miles away through the Federation feature. This enables all police systems to be monitored as one virtual system, making it easier for police officers in Barrow to assist local village officers who work alone.

Fire Department Watches Over Equipment and Narcotics
The North Slope Borough Fire Department (NSBFD) has been able to leverage the video surveillance system to safeguard its high-value equipment and adhere to federally-mandated laws concerning controlled substances.

According to Shannon Esparza, Deputy Director of NSBFD, “We house controlled substances in our fire station and they have to be refrigerated, so we have two cameras set up to monitor the fridge. Each paramedic swipes an access control badge, inputs their code, and takes an allotted amount of narcotics for their mission. They do a count before leaving and upon returning, all in front of the cameras.”

The surveillance system has helped to deter delinquent behaviour, significantly reducing property vandalism and theft. Esparza has used the video surveillance system to monitor the response efficiency of her team when called out to handle a fire. One time, she noticed a hose dragging on the back of a truck. “I was able to radio into them and let them know, avoiding any damage or loss of equipment,” she explained.

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Omnicast Keeps Barrow Students Safe Even from Afar
When the community of Barrow began standardizing on Genetec Omnicast for all of its public facilities, the North Slope Borough School District (NSBSD) soon followed the Borough’s lead by installing the IP video surveillance system at its high school.

Sherry McKenzie, Barrow High School Principal, monitors the system when time allows, but mainly relies on it for reference when students or staff report events. Already, the system has been helpful in identifying a prankster who tampered with hallway lighting, and video has also been exported as evidence in a more serious assault charge. The Security Center mobile app has also been very helpful to Mckenzie, who can log into the system from anywhere in the school, or even when travelling, by using her mobile phone or laptop.

The next phase of deployment includes bringing all police precincts in the five remaining villages online, and eventually expanding the system to encompass more schools and all other public facilities. Each organization is also adding more cameras, covering blind spots that may have been missed in the initial implementation.

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