Jan 14, 2017

City’s Vision of Safe Downtown is Realized with New Technology

City’s Vision of Safe Downtown is Realized with New Technology

Every city wants a safe and beautiful downtown, but Hayward, California, was able to transform the city center in record time. This proved especially rewarding for police, because the leading-edge technology that was used helped them to realize this vision.

Hayward, which is in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Area and the heart of Silicon Valley, has a population of 150,000 people and is situated among Northern California’s metropolises: San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.

Back in 2010, the city embarked on a major project to revitalize the downtown area. The goal of the plan was to provide an improved physical, social, and economic environment, but city leaders wanted to do something they had dreamed of for years. They wanted the downtown to once again become a thriving center of community and cultural activity.

The plan called for the city center to contain commercial and residential development, as well as open spaces for public use. Key objectives were to make the area esthetically pleasing, easily accessible, and safe. Achieving the last objective proved more challenging than city planners expected.

Despite all of the improvements, the city’s leadership learned that the plan had not gone far enough to improve safety in the area around city hall. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) platform was nearby and made the area an easy thoroughfare for criminal activity.

The crimes included just what the city wanted to get rid of, particularly around city hall: openmarket drug dealing, violent crimes, loitering, prostitution, and thefts. Obviously, if such crimes persisted the city would never be able to realize its vision to reestablish the downtown as an attractive commercial and cultural center. To solve the problem, the police assigned new officers to the area and conducted targeted police sting operations, yet crime persisted.

City planners recognized the need to implement a state-of-the-art security surveillance system for downtown. After researching traditional security camera solutions, they discovered a variety of limitations, including power requirements. Since the areas that needed security did not have a fixed power source, trenches would have to be dug for several yards to bury and secure the wiring. The process would be costly, but it was also unattractive for another reason. The city center was just redone, so breaking up the newly laid concrete was not an option.

City leaders found a local company, called V5 Systems, which could solve all of the security challenges it faced. Its portable, self-powered security units could be rapidly deployed and moved anywhere. A unit could be taken down and put up again in minutes. As a result, the technology could be used to secure the downtown area, as well as remote infrastructure, without the huge costs and delays involved for permitting and trenching.

Since V5’s security units were quickly and easily re-deployable, the technology allows cities three other enormous advantages. Wherever criminal activity occurs, it can follow it. The units can also be readily placed to provide temporary security for special events, such as marathons, fairs, festivals, outdoor concerts, and for any other location where there is not access to fixed power. The third advantage is delivered to I.T. personnel, as these units are preconfigured before entering into the field. They do not need to be reconfigured by I.T. when you move them from one location to another.

Since V5’s security units are solar powered, no connection to the power grid was necessary. City planners realized that this advantage alone would save the city an enormous amount of money. For example, digging trenches to provide secure power lines costs an average of $150 per linear foot. As a result, trenching alone for . mile costs approximately $198,000, plus the cost of the cameras that will need to be installed once the power is in place.

Transferring data back to the cities S.O.C. (Secured Operating Center) posed an entirely different set of challenges, too. Since V5’s technology has on-board communications, this challenge was solved as well.

City planners realized the enormous cost savings of working with V5 Systems, and V5 went to work with police officers to create a strategy for deployment of the units. To address crime around city hall, over a dozen portable security units were placed throughout the area in high traffic areas and pedestrian paths.

The results were rapid and remarkable. The city was able to virtually eliminate downtown crime in record time. Open-market drug dealing stopped almost immediately, without reported increases of the activity in adjacent areas. V5 Systems portable units simply made the risk of identification and capture too great. According to police officers, the number of thefts and other street crimes were also reduced by over 60%.

Commenting on the rapid improvement, Nathaniel Roush, IT Manager of Public Safety for the city of Hayward, said, “I would recommend the V5 solutions to others for the tremendous flexibility that you get with the camera system. You no longer have to worry about just having it stationery in one place. You can move it as your needs see fit."

As a result of its success with V5 Systems, the city plans to purchase more units to secure other locations within the metropolitan area and remote critical infrastructures, along with plans to add another feature V5 offers on its units, which is real-time gunshot detection.

Hayward’s city planners can now see the downtown area once again bustling with commerce and alive with community activity. New businesses have sprung up, including new retail outlets and restaurants, while movie theaters and other cultural venues attract crowds once again. The residents have also witnessed a measurable quality of life improvement through the reduction of crime as well.

Thanks to its innovative leaders and the portable security technology of V5 Systems, downtown Hayward has a whole new lease on life.



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