The Royal Bahamas Police Force leverages the open platform to reduce crime and monitor traffic.
da Milestone Systems
Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is becoming a smart city. By upgrading its video technology system, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) aims to reduce crimes such as kidnapping, pickpocketing, traffic homicides and armed robberies. It also seeks to go beyond the realm of security to help authorities manage emergency response.
The Challenge: Upgrading the Citywide Video Surveillance System to Combat Rising Crime Rates
Between 2009 and 2015, Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, saw a significant increase in criminal activity and hit-and-run accidents involving the driver. The city's video surveillance system, installed in 2012, needed to be upgraded to help the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) more effectively monitor and respond to this increase in incidents.
The Solution: An Enhanced Video System with New Technology Integrations
In early 2020, the Bahamas Ministry of National Security began expanding its Milestone XProtect video management system. Milestone's data-driven, open-platform video technology system is compatible with a wide range of hardware and software vendors. The upgrade resulted in the redesign of the network infrastructure and the addition of more than 500 high-quality network cameras from Axis Communications. The project involved solutions from several Milestone technology partners, including servers from Rasilient Systems and video analytics applications such as License Plate Recognition (LPR) and BriefCam facial recognition. ShotSpotter, SoundThinking's gunshot detection system, was also integrated into the expanded system.
The Results: More Effective Crime Prevention and Fewer Unsolved Hit-and-Run Accident Cases
The video system technology upgrade is helping the RBPF monitor and deal with a wide range of incidents in the city. It has made it possible, among other things, to monitor and prevent possible criminal activities, to track vehicles involved in hit-and-run traffic accidents, to reinforce external security for government ministries and even to help enforce pandemic-related lockdowns.
Improving Crime Prevention
According to the 2022 Population and Housing Census, the Bahamas has a population of 399,314. The country is one of the main tourist destinations in the Caribbean, receiving almost 7 million visitors a year. Nassau, the capital, is the hub of commerce, legislation, administration, education, and media in The Bahamas. The Royal Bahamas Police Force employs more than 3,000 officers and provides surveillance, security and protection services to residents and visitors alike.
Unfortunately, in recent years Nassau has seen an increase in crime in certain parts of the city. From pickpocketing incidents and homicides in traffic accidents to armed robberies and even kidnappings, the RBPF has had to take on the challenge of dealing with the skyrocketing crime rate. The RBPF's initiative to expand the country's surveillance system as a tool in the crime-fighting strategy was fully supported by the government.
"There are areas with high crime rates in the city that are known and frequented by persons of interest," said Ethan Munnings, chief architect of Technology Solutions at Proficient Business Services (Bahamas) and chief engineer of the City of Nassau's video surveillance project. "To curb incidents in those areas and better track and monitor suspects, achieve more effective reconnaissance of the environment, and be able to help locate or identify individuals after they leave the scene of incidents, the RBPF expanded the system's infrastructure and added hundreds of new IP video cameras in order to increase police presence. One of these areas, for example, was around the prime minister's house."
Milestone's original VMS was installed in 2011 and managed nearly 250 cameras. In 2019, Nassau authorities began working with Proficient Business Services to add nearly 500 more cameras and peripheral devices to the system.
Munnings explained that redesigning the network infrastructure was essential to send all camera footage to the city's new real-time crime center. This centre, located at the police headquarters, began operations in early February 2021 and now functions as a technology hub for the Royal Bahamas Police.
"Law enforcement and Nassau authorities are very pleased with the Milestone VMS because of its reliability, ease of expansion and use, as well as its compatibility with multiple hardware and software vendors," added Munnings. "For this expansion, we brought together certified integrators in the installation and operation of Milestone Systems. We have a team in charge of fiber optics, a group for wireless connection in charge of installing the infrastructure and another unit to configure and install the cameras. The flexibility of Milestone's VMS made the whole process very easy."
The Partner Ecosystem
Today, Milestone's XProtect Open Platform VMS supports more than 10,000 different security devices from more than 700 of the industry's leading manufacturers. Technology partners include suppliers of network video cameras, network video recorders (NVRs), storage equipment, access control, alarm and detection systems, video analytics, GPS technology, laser scanners, emergency call boxes, to name just a few.
According to Munnings, many of the cameras that were installed in the original system are still in operation. The new cameras incorporated during the system expansion involved various types of Axis Communications (Axis) network cameras, including bullet cameras, PTZ (pan, tilt, and zoom) cameras, and fixed box cameras. Axis cameras with integrated software for license plate recognition and wireless cameras were also used. Axis Communications offers a wide range of innovative network cameras for any application, from rugged outdoor cameras to unobtrusive products for harsh environments.
Five Rasilient Systems recording servers, with a total capacity of 250 terabytes, record 24/7 and store the information on-premises for 30 days.
Within the Milestone VMS, cameras and servers integrate with BriefCam's video analytics, enabling facial recognition and person/object tracking. Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and deep learning, BriefCam's built-in technologies transform video data into valuable insights that enable quick video review, search, and real-time alerts. The system also offers two types of license plate recognition. The first, through Milestone's add-on for license plate recognition and the second, through direct integration with BriefCam.
A team of 14 operators uses Auvik for device monitoring and SolarWinds to manage the core network. The fiber optic network, with a 10G backbone, is based on Cisco technologies.
Going Beyond Security
The City of Nassau's revamped surveillance system has also brought benefits that go beyond security. The system was instrumental in helping authorities implement protective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the worst period of the pandemic, such as the 24-hour curfew ordered in May 2020, during which residents could only leave their homes in cases of emergency.
"The main benefit beyond safety became apparent during the pandemic, when authorities were able to police the streets to ensure compliance with the curfew at times when no one should be on the streets," Munnings recalled. "The system allowed the police to see if the restrictions imposed to control the COVID emergency were being violated and then, if necessary, to send personnel to fix the problems."
Another essential use in addition to safety is traffic accident monitoring and driver accountability. According to local news outlet Eyewitness News in Nassau, 69 traffic fatalities were recorded in 2018. After an increase of nearly 30 percent between 2017 and 2018, authorities pledged to decrease the number of traffic deaths and accidents. Video technology is aiding in that effort. In 2019, fatal traffic accidents in New Providence dropped to 33.
"The cameras we've strategically installed at the city's traffic lights use license plate recognition integrated with Milestone Systems, which has helped track accidents caused by hit-and-run drivers," Munnings said. We have had cases of pedestrians being hit by vehicles that failed to stop. Now, police will be able to track those vehicles and turn those drivers to justice. The new surveillance system has also helped prevent kidnappings."
For more than 12 years, the City of Nassau has leveraged and expanded the capabilities of its video surveillance system. Thanks to the possibility of having leading technologies and full integration within an open platform VMS ecosystem, city authorities and police are able to face new challenges to achieve a safe city for both citizens and visitors.
Until now, technology and innovation have grown at the speed of light. This growth is expected to only increase rapidly. Embracing innovations that improve policing is no longer an option," said Zhivago Dames, deputy commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force. "We have deployed Milestone's video management software to engage in crime-fighting, apprehend criminals and conduct investigations to collect and analyze data that allows us to understand the root causes and resources available to mitigate malicious actions."