Citizens in Buffalo, N.Y., now have an extra layer of security with the installation of wireless surveillance cameras throughout the city. In fact, the solution from Firetide and Avrio Group recently helped the city's police department make five arrests while the installation was still in progress, said Capt. Mark Makowski of the Buffalo Police Department. The suspects were caught on camera burglarizing a convenience store hours after the police camera was installed nearby, he said.

“A camera went up at 4 o'clock and it caught a convenience store fire across the street and the looters who took advantage of the situation,” Makowski said. “As a result, we made five arrests within 12 hours of the camera being operational.”

The current system consists of 56 Avrio Rapid Deployment Surveillance Solution PoleCams, which are portable units that integrate network cameras and Firetide's wireless mesh nodes in a weatherized enclosure. All PoleCams have been installed in overt locations with blue lights and police symbols. Some are pan-tilt-zoom network cameras that operators can control remotely. The system also includes 37 Firetide nodes for infrastructure connectivity that are spread throughout the city, Makowski said. This includes high-crime areas, business districts and around critical infrastructure for homeland security purposes.

According to a Firetide spokesperson, the system has the ability to read license plates from 200 yards away and promises high-resolution streaming video at 30 frames per second. The data are sent wirelessly to city hall and command and control centers, where personnel use computer-aided dispatch systems to aggregate and distribute data to police in the field.

The system doesn't replace officers in the field but instead acts as a police force multiplier, Makowski said.

“Technology is a tool, not a replacement for police officers,” he said. “[The system] instead provides the extra information needed about an incident to officers responding to the calls and to detectives investigating the scene.”

The project cost $3 million and was supported by the state of New York's efficiency grants.