Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
Dave Wilkinson, of the Atlanta Police Foundation, talks about “Operation Shield,” a program that is currently integrating security/surveillance cameras from the private and public sectors in Atlanta. It will eventually be available for the entire metro-Atlanta region.
All eyes were on Dave Wilkinson, as he told stories of his experience as a special agent for the U.S. Secret Service, serving former Presidents William “Bill” Clinton and George W. Bush.
He said he was a member of the Secret Service for 22 years, and oversaw both the Office of Investigations and the Presidential Protection Division.
Wilkinson said he eventually retired, and joined the Atlanta Police Foundation in 2005, where he is president and CEO. The foundation provides support to Atlanta’s mayor, police chief, and police department.
Wilkinson spoke briefly about the “Operation Shield” program, Thursday, at the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s “SunTrust Early Bird Breakfast,” held at Clayton State University in Morrow.
He said the program integrates “public sector and private sector surveillance and security cameras in the City of Atlanta, all into one network, one platform.” The initiative is thought to be a powerful tool for law enforcement, and could also have some crime-deterring effects.
The goal is to make the program available in the entire metro region, which includes Clayton County, he said. Once this is open to the region, cameras from the metro area will be able to connect their networks into the overall system.
“We are already going to be bringing the cameras from [Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport] to the City of Atlanta,” he added. Only an Internet Protocol camera, with an IP address, can be added into the system, he added.
“If it’s an old, antiquated camera system, we may have to wait for them to upgrade before we can be able to bring them in, but for the most part, the goal is to eventually make it a regional connection.”
He said the program has a Video Integration Center, which is basically an operations center that monitors the cameras located in an undisclosed location in Downtown Atlanta. This center can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We have already built out this 24-hour command center [and], we’ve began the process of integrating all these cameras into the system,” he explained. Cameras will be added into the system, including for Atlanta Public Schools, the Buckhead area, and Midtown, and Downtown Atlanta, he said.
He added that entities such as the Georgia World Congress Center and Turner Broadcasting are adding their cameras to the system, too. Wilkinson did not provide the Clayton News Daily with a time span for the project’s completion, only that it “will be many years building this is out to scale, but bottom line is ... it’s just a matter of getting all the cameras onboard.”
He said there has been an investment of about $4.5 million toward the program. This includes about $1 million from the private sector to the Atlanta Police Foundation, about $1.25 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and about $2 million from the City of Atlanta.
He said the private sector continues investing in the program by installing and setting cameras into the network. “So we hope to take [this] investment, coupled with the City of Atlanta’s investment, and leverage that for a large federal grant from the federal government,” said Wilkinson.
An important part of the program is the intellectual software it contains, which helps law enforcement agencies determine the cameras they should view, he said,when seeking clues and information. “If you’re looking for a suspect, we can put in descriptive data of the suspect, basically, and the cameras will find that suspect,” he explained.
He said PSIMS is a product that inexpensively integrates the different camera systems into one system. With the analytics and smart software, he said, there is no longer a need for law enforcement officers to have their eyes glued on the camera monitors.
He said a multitude of vendors and partners are on board with the program, such as Motorola and the community improvement districts of Buckhead and Midtown.
Clayton County Police Chief Gregory Porter, and Clayton County Sheriff Kem Kimbrough, could not be reached for comment about the system.