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December 22, 2009

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Mobile access case study: University of Hull students impressed with HID Global upgrade

Mocam Apache ‘cleans up’ South Yorkshire’s streets

Using high-speed colour/monochrome Vista VPDL-5WP-P-C 22x PowerDome Lite cameras, as well as SmartDisc recording technology, the Mocam Apache is a re-deployable stand-alone product that can be located anywhere.

Weighing-in at just 7 kg, it requires only a simple bracket to attach it to a conveniently located street lamp and a 240 V AC mains source (typically integrated into the lamp-post’s power wiring).

Apache’s vandal-resistant and weatherproof construction is ideal for use within a variety of environments and locations where its discreet design assists in its deployment, and all without the constraints of a hard-wired transmission network.

Capturing images via an on-board Vista PowerDome Lite camera, the device records to an internally-mounted Vista SmartDisc. When an incident is captured, depending on the Apache model used, recorded footage can be downloaded via an in-built WiFi link or 3G networks.

Robust construction, excellent picture quality

Andy Proudfoot, the managing director of Mocam, told SMT Online a little more about the system.

“The Vista 22x PowerDome Lite is an ideal choice for the Apache due to its robust nature and excellent image quality,” said Proudfoot. “Coupled with the diminutive Vista SmartDisc DVR, this technology affords the production and safe storage of valuable evidential video for investigation and prosecution purposes – all within the safety and convenience of the Apache unit.”

The Mocam Apache has become an integral part of police operations and investigations in South Yorkshire, and has made a significant impact amongst the communities in which it has been deployed

Detective chief inspector Zaf Ali of South Yorkshire Police explained: “The cameras are typically deployed alongside appropriate signage via our Streetforce Crime Reduction Partnership into areas where we see clusters of crimes or anti-social behaviour beginning to take hold. Using the 3G/WiFi-equipped Apache cameras, we can record anything that happens in an area, or even monitor and control cameras live via a laptop with mobile broadband connectivity.”

Ali continued: “The images we capture via the Vista PowerDome Lite cameras and Vista SmartDisc recorders in the Mocam units are incredibly clear, even if they’ve been recorded during the hours of darkness. The images are so good we can easily read logos on peoples’ clothing or any literature they may be holding at the time. This makes the task of recognising known offenders or identifying new ones particularly easy for us.”

Arresting anti-social and criminal behaviour

With an initial network of Mocam units funded by the Crime Reduction Partnership, the cameras have been so successful in dissipating and arresting anti-social and criminal behaviour that communities are now funding their own additional cameras and passing them to the police to operate.

“We also find the units invaluable in protecting the vulnerable student population of Sheffield, especially when they first arrive in the city at the start of the academic year, typically equipped with laptops and MP3 players for their new life at university,” explained Ali.

“The criminal element of the city knows this and, combined with the students’ relative lack of knowledge of their new host city, this can make them vulnerable to street robbery, etc. To combat this, we have deployed the Mocam units to provide ‘safe routes’ to and from the various university sites and student accommodation areas. This has greatly improved the level of safety and reassurance for the new students.”

Since their inclusion in the city’s overall policing strategy, the Vista-powered Mocam Apache units have been integral to a broad variety of police operations, while the high-resolution footage captured via the onboard Vista 22x PowerDome Lite and recorded on the Vista SmartDisc has resulted in prosecutions for burglary, public order offence, and severe witness intimidation cases.

“Offenders find it very hard to protest their innocence when high-quality footage of their involvement in a crime is presented to them,” confirmed Ali. “There is no doubt that these cameras have been key to the successful conclusion of many cases.”

Freeing up police officers’ time

Ali went on to state: “No police force has unlimited funding, and the innovative use of the Apache has helped us to deploy our resources more effectively around the region. We calculate that even if we use the 40 Apache cameras we have for just two hours per day, seven days a week, we save a staggering GB pound 600,000 every year on physical patrolling costs for the areas under surveillance.”

Importantly, this frees-up staffing hours such that officers can then be better employed elsewhere. This affords South Yorkshire Police a far greater flexibility in the use of its officers in their efforts to ensure Sheffield remains one of the safest cities in the country.

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