Canberra’s Wi-Fi CCTV Upgrade

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ACT Government is reported to be considering a plan that would allow CCTV cameras to leverage Canberra’s CBRFree Wi-Fi network. The possibility is being trialled using 4 mobile cameras at Floriade.

It’s good thinking to share the infrastructure – CBRFree is Australia’s biggest and fastest free Wi-Fi network and includes 60 wireless hotspots around Belconnen, Dickson, Kingston, Manuka, Weston Creek, Woden, New Acton, Tuggeranong and most of Civic. CBRfree dishes users up around 250 megabytes per day over a fast broadband connection.

The CBRfree backbone is serious stuff – Cisco’s Aironet AIR-CAP1552E-N-K9 units with dual SFP fibre or Ethernet backhaul, and dual radios, which costs around $A6000. The units are fitted with AIR-ANT2547V-N omni antennas which offers 4dBi gain at 2.4Ghz and 7dBi gain at 5Ghz. The radios are capable of mesh network operation with 28dBm (~631mW) power output and N300 2-stream legacy beamforming. The K9s offer GPS positioning and support a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem.

At present, the Justice and Community Safety Directorate’s Public Safety CCTV System comprises 72 cameras that leverage the ACT government’s ICT network to transmit remote video signals to a control room but the limitations of the network limit the expansion of the in-ground infrastructure that’s too expensive to expand simply to install a small number of additional cameras.

ACT Government allocated $376,000 to upgrade the CCTV system in its budget and this money was spent on a camera in Green Square in Kingston and 2 cameras in Franklin Street, Manuka, which were replaced with multi-lens, high definition cameras giving 360-degree coverage. Another 3 cameras in Civic were upgraded to multi-lens high-definition cameras and 7 more others were replaced with HD PTZ cameras.

A more flexible system able to move video signals over wireless or Wi-Fi has its benefits. This year’s Floriade will be monitored by mobile CCTV cameras and this trial may see expanded use of mobile/portable CCTV cameras across ACT. The 4 solar-powered mobile cameras are supported by back-up batteries and will report to police using Canberra’s free Wi-Fi network or via 4G.

Same as all public surveillance solutions in Australia, protocols surrounding monitoring and retention are strict. Staff at the Winchester Police Centre in Belconnen monitor the Public Safety CCTV system on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and access to the CCTV system is restricted to dedicated workstations and authorised staff. Footage is retained for 30 days and then written over unless its required for police investigations.

Canberra’s overall CCTV coverage is comparatively large – the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate manages a CCTV network of more than 2400 cameras which monitor libraries, cemeteries and bus stops for security and safety purposes.

Police minister Mick Gentleman said the trial at Floriade was not prompted by safety concerns or antisocial activities in the past, but rather a way to make punters feel more secure.

“It’s more a feel about better public safety, showing people we’re being cautious about public safety in those bigger events. Most people feel safe and it’s a good idea to keep that safety going,” Gentleman said.

Gentleman said the government could roll out more CCTV cameras if requested by police.

“We’ll see how these ones go and if police request some more then I’ll go to budget and get some more money for them,” he said.♦

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