Sao Paulo Policia Militar Experience with LTE: Bigger, Better and Cheaper
Expanding the role of technology in public safety for one of the world’s fastest-growing economies is, in many ways, a problem of too many choices. There are a great many solutions, but few that are both cost-effective and reliable. Leveraging the power and versatility that comes with LTE for applications such as video surveillance makes it easier to identify the best approaches and deliver them to São Paulo’s police officers and firefighters.
The Polícia de Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo State Military Police) provides for the public safety of Brazil’s most populous state. The state of São Paulo is about the size of Michigan, covering about 96,000 square miles (248,000 square kilometers), but with over 41 million people, more than California. The capital of the state of São Paulo is the eponymous city, which is Brazil’s largest.
Police and fire services in São Paulo are modeled differently than in most other countries. The Polícia Militar is not solely a law enforcement organization, and despite the name, does not handle only military matters. In addition to the over 100,000 police officers in its ranks, it also includes the state’s firefighters. The Polícia Militar is responsible for general crime prevention, order maintenance, and traffic control in São Paulo. Criminal investigation is handled by the Polícia Civil (Civil Police), who act once a crime has occurred, collecting evidence and preparing cases for prosecution.
Colonel Alfredo Deak Jr. manages much of the technology used by the Polícia Militar. He oversees the agency’s extensive telecommunications system and the data center and data networks that transport and process the information flowing to and from the state’s police officers.
“Even with 100,000 police officers, the police cannot be everywhere and see everything, all the time. Deployment of video surveillance allows the Polícia Militar to expand their capacity to prevent crime, especially in areas where police aren’t present 24 hours per day. The presence of overt video surveillance also provides a sense of security for São Paulo’s citizens, who see the police cameras and know there is someone operating and monitoring it proactively.”
“Surveillance video is a critical component of this data and communications system. Even with 100,000 police officers, the police cannot be everywhere and see everything all the time. Deployment of video surveillance allows the Polícia Militar to expand their capacity to prevent crime, especially in areas where police aren’t present 24 hours per day. The presence of overt video surveillance also provides a sense of security for São Paulo’s citizens, who see the police cameras and know there is someone operating and monitoring it proactively.”
The video network is especially helpful during disaster and emergency situations. “Police commanders who cannot be at the scene of the incident are usually reliant on voice communications and spoken descriptions of what is taking place, transmitted over their telephone and radio network. Those descriptions are colored by the experience and perspective of the officer at the scene, who is typically seeing only a small portion of the overall situation. A real-time video image allows the commander to see what is happening with his own eyes, from multiple perspectives, and apply his own experience and training to that scenario.”
Intelligence use to prevent excessive use of force
Colonel Deak characterizes the use of technology by the Polícia Militar in a philosophical way: “The intensive use of intelligence to prevent the intensive use of force. The more intelligence and the more the police officer is prepared, the more information and knowledge he has about an emergency, the less force he will use to protect himself and the citizen. This is the biggest benefit; to protect the citizen without the need of excessive force.” He particularly cites the use of video to identify and interact with suspicious people before they can commit a crime. “Approaching suspicious persons is what reduces crime, along with the removal of weapons, alcohol and drugs from circulation. The more the police can act on people who are involved with these four factors, the lesser the violence in the streets and the greater the reduction in crime.”
Savings with LTE
A trial of an LTE network in São Paulo deployed by Alcatel-Lucent shows the benefit that wireless broadband can have for public safety. Colonel Deak is enthusiastic about the advantages of wireless video over a comparable hardwired network. “From the moment I decide to install a camera on a street, it takes me between six to nine months to make this video camera function. Why? First, I need to put a pole up, which requires authorization from the city hall. If I’m going to use the building of a private condominium, I need authorization for me to use their building. When I create my transmission network, either I have to drill miles of streets to pull optical fiber, or I have to put in a radio communication system. I may have to go through seven or eight different points to get to our radio monitoring center. If the condominium authorizes me to construct a radio tower, I have to have authorization to enter and leave the condo each time you have a problem with this radio. 30% of the time, the camera will be off the air. If a repeater on top of a building stops working, service to 10 to 15 video cameras fails. It’s not a very easy strategy for me to work with this type of infrastructure.”
“LTE is a tool that allows efficient communications redundancy for applications such as video surveillance. It allows me to use my APCO 25 system towers which support my mission critical voice communication network with much less cost… What interests us is to do more things for the same money, put more technology in the service of society.”
“What interests us with LTE is that it is a tool that allows efficient communications redundancy for applications such as video surveillance. It allows me to use my APCO 25 system towers which support my mission critical voice communication network for the LTE antennas with much less cost. If any tower has problems for some reason, I have the redundancy of other towers that will cover the same space. With this redundancy, rather than have 30% of my video cameras off the air daily, I have zero video cameras down. Also, I do not have to pull optical fiber. The direct cost of a non-LTE video camera is, on average, 55,000 Reais (US$29,270) per video camera on the street. With LTE it is estimated that this cost would fall to around 10,000 Reals (US$5,322) per a video camera, reducing by five times the cost of each video camera. In short, I get to place five times more video cameras with the same video surveillance money. This is what interests us, to do more things for the same money, put more technology in the service of society.”
Compatibility and contingency
As a government service, the Polícia Militar is concerned with keeping tax dollars in the country and using Brazilian vendors as much as possible. Colonel Deak also needs a system that will build on, rather than replace, existing equipment and infrastructure. “For that, the LTE trial has been excellent. It has drawn the Polícia Militar and Alcatel-Lucent together with a focus on allowing the adaptation of our existing tablets, of our equipment, of our current software to the infrastructure provided by the trial. It is most important to allow Brazilian industry to begin to create devices for it. To make it accessible to our suppliers, our partners integrate it into our laboratory. The goal was not to test the transmission of data. The most important goal is making sure that our partners and other technologies would adapt well to LTE. This could happen only by bringing LTE to Brazil, to our infrastructure to ensure that it would work.”
Other communications technologies the Polícia Militar considered have not shown the promise of LTE. “The great advantage of LTE is the convergence. You can create a private network using two 5 MHz blocks, using the 700 MHz band. The LTE modem equipment can be dual band and talk to two broadband mobile networks. That is, my police car can use the same radio communication protocol when connecting to my private network, the public network, and in case of failure I can also use the private network for this and hire a contingency service. I think this is the great advantage of LTE over Wi-MAX. With much less money, I can create an infrastructure with much more efficiency and contingency options. Other technologies do not compete because of very low, low, volume of data traffic. The most important thing about LTE evolution is what we call quality of service. The quality of service on LTE is something I can measure, something that on the current 3G technologies, I have no way to measure. I don’t have a way to dedicate part of the capacity traffic for emergency service so that these don’t have to compete with public traffic or video download of things that do not interest the emergency operation. LTE allows me to create several different ways of delivery and quality of service and to ensure that in an emergency, there will never be a lack of data space. I don’t think that there is a technology that today can replace the LTE in this vision, the vision of quality of delivery and ease of installation.”
These are all key reasons why Public Safety LTE is a key component in a building a cost effective, reliable, pervasive video surveillance infrastructure.
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