Integrating analytics into the enterprise
Steve Patterson has made paying for parking tickets a more palatable experience.
More precisely, the use of cameras in the City of Oshawa’s municipal buildings has made people think twice before arguing vehemently with a city employee as they’re paying their fine. They may not enjoy handing over their cash, but they know they’re on camera inside a government building and behave according, says Patterson.
Two years ago, Patterson was in charge of the Ontario city’s IT
department, but his role shifted when security functions were moved
from the property management branch into his domain.
One of his first tasks as manager of systems and security operations
was to take the city is various siloed cameras and make sense of them
on a network.
“At the time, all the individual city locations had all their own DVRs
handling surveillance. So we embarked on a project to convert all the
individual analogue systems to one centrally managed controlled and
maintained IP-based system,” he says.
The city has a mix of Bosch and Pelco legacy cameras, so Patterson used
Axis servers to convert the video signals into IP and put them on the
Any new cameras that are added to the network are generally Axis IP
cameras. Patterson is also replacing the older analogue cameras as they
begin to die.
“We put two IP cameras in yesterday. They were up and running six hours after ordering them,” he says.
“It’s simply a matter of quality. The old analogue cameras were great
in their day, but realistically, why wouldn’t you go mega-pixel if it’s
The whole system is tied together using Aimetis’s Symphony software
suite it’s a package that includes recording software, storage, remote
live view, alarm and event management, and video analytics.
It can scale to 200 cameras on one PC. Patterson currently has 130
cameras around Oshawa and running the Aimetis software off an IBM rack
mountable dual CPU server with fibre channel for storage. The cameras
are located in several municipal buildings, as well as parking lots and
other strategic locations across the city.
Patterson says he hasn’t seen an appreciable drop in crime since the
city began using cameras on a widespread basis, but it does “make it a
lot easier for us to respond to incidents and identify when they’re
The Aimetis video analytics software is useful in parking lots, for
example. It can detect whether a person standing next to a car is the
genuine owner and just opening the door or if they’re a thief or
vandal. The software makes the determination based on the time it takes
for the average person to open a car door. If a 45 second threshold is
broken, the system sends an alert, and the matter is investigated.
Patterson installed the Aimetis software himself after he used a trial
version of the suite. He was impressed by how easy it is to use and how
reasonably it was priced. Aimetis is also a Canadian company, based in
Waterloo, Ont., so Patterson felt comfortable with the level of product
support the company could offer.
Marc Holtenhoff, president and CEO says he has a number of municipal
customers using the Symphony software. The City of Cambridge, Ont., for
example, is also a client. Holtenhoff says it’s the analytics
capability that is really allowing his company to expand its customer
The software is “surprisingly good” says Patterson, adding that it’s
becoming commonplace for IT elements to find their way into traditional
physical security management. For the City of Oshawa, it eventually
made sense for Patterson and his IT team to take over security
Patterson’s team currently includes two full-time IT security
personnel, plus a contract security force. The camera network is manned