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City of Westerville Situational Awareness: Live Streaming & Drones

Feature Article by LiveU
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LiveU details how the City of Westerville’s police and fire departments are using the company’s live video broadcasting and streaming technology to increase situational awareness.

City of Westerville Situational Awareness: Live Streaming & Drones

When the ROI is saving lives 

The City of Westerville, a northeastern suburb of Columbus, Ohio with a population of 35,000, has seen its share of high-profile national, local, breaking news, and emergency events. For the city’s Police and Fire Departments, it’s another day at the office. Both agencies decided to implement drones as a way to increase their situational awareness. They quickly realized by pooling their resources, they were able to develop a joint drone program for the City. 

The idea to use LiveU as the conduit for live video transmission was brought to the team’s attention after a local news station covered a PD/FD drone demonstration and broadcast it via a LiveU transmission unit.

“We knew there was a better way to transmit high-quality content quickly to a private network where teams could monitor, evaluate, and deploy, reroute or adjust on the ground operations based on the findings,” said Lieutenant Justin Alloway, Westerville Division of Police – Investigations. The team developed a video data solution for sharing with key agencies over a private network – employing LiveU technology and three drones. 

Democratic National Committee Debate

Once Westerville was chosen to host the Democratic National Committee Debate in October of 2019, the teams knew they would need drones to manage it all. Deputy Chief Fire Marshall, David Williams says the City usually only gets 1-2 weeks’ notice for any type of big event like this. “The Police and Fire Departments then have to coordinate quickly to have the infrastructure in place to manage an influx of crowds – composed of those who are attending the debate, protesters, and anti-protesters.” The city welcomed hundreds of thousands of people during this event. Fire and police command were able to view real-time videos of the streets and the crowds to determine where a public safety presence was needed.

Pushing the limits of live streaming

As riots and protests plagued the country in 2020, the Westerville Police and Fire departments continued to utilize LiveU to transmit data and stay prepared locally.

Day-to-day, the coordinated teams are utilizing LiveU with drones for extended operations, which include house and building fires, power lines down on multiple buildings, traffic stops, and missing persons. “When a firefighter is injured on the job, we watch the drone footage and include findings in accident reports and internal reviews,” noted Chief Williams. 

The city is also leveraging the technology for solar inspections and traffic studies, which reduces the time it takes to conduct these evaluations and decreases the chance of an incident by keeping an inspector off a ladder or roof. “We can feed the data through LiveU and watch that,” added Lieutenant Alloway. Because everyone loves the aerial shots of Westerville, the team also supports Public Relations efforts to promote city events and happenings.

The return on investment

ROI is much different in public safety than what you might see in Corporate or other vertical markets. For the City of Westerville PD and FD, “when we are managing these large incidents, for example, during the 4th of July celebration with large gatherings of people, sometimes fights break out. We can have a drone overhead in just moments because we are able to get that information and that live stream goes to the officers that are responding.” The integration of drones and live video has helped both organizations respond rapidly to pop up emergencies. In this case, the ROI is measured in human lives protected. For municipality uses, the city is reducing injury and saving time and money by deploying drones instead of people for inspections. 

What’s Next?

The City of Westerville plans to upgrade their workflow, implementing several LiveU HEVC units and up to six drones to take their situational awareness to the next level. The City of Westerville unified command team doesn’t always get much notice for these developing incidents so it’s crucial to have a turnkey, user-friendly live streaming solution to evaluate a situation and deploy the necessary resources. LiveU and drones provided the right solution to address and resolve their situational awareness needs.

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Posted by Joe Macey Connect & Contact