Advanced Imaging

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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

Thermal Imaging and Homeland Security

Local police, working with private industry, establish basic IP video surveillance network
Thermal cameras enable law-enforcement officials to see people hiding in foliage, even those wearing camouflage. (Images courtesy FLIR)
Because thermal security cameras detect and display relative differences in heat, they let operators identify intruders in sensitive areas.
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By David Lee

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, municipalities all across the country were tasked by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with assembling a threat assessment of the critical infrastructure in their local areas.

One of the facilities in greatest need of bolstered security turned out to be a chemical plant near Pittsburg, Calif.* In response to this threat assessment, the federal government made grant funds available to the city for additional equipment to help the city’s police watch over this facility, including thermal cameras.

“No other equipment works as well for this application,” said Capt. William Zbacnik of the Pittsburg Police Department.

The story of how the city integrated thermal cameras into their wireless IP video security network involves more than just the federal government paying for a high-tech camera. It’s an example of a city police department working with private industry to establish a basic IP video surveillance network, which eventually grew into a cutting edge net that meets the needs of local law enforcement while simultaneously bolstering national security.

Evolution of a System

When the city of Pittsburg first installed video cameras, they only had a handful of daylight IP video cameras positioned at strategic locations around town.

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