Using Video Surveillance for Disaster Response

By Amanda Kowalik   July 16, 2013

An efficient and reliable emergency response system is a critical part of any local, state or federal government’s efforts in protecting and saving lives. Having a real-time video feed that can help local disaster teams and public safety officials is critical to making the right decisions when lives are at stake. Essential to having a response system that works is having the right network up-and-running so that communications don’t breakdown in the event of a disaster.

Cambium customer ezWireless has provided a case study that is a prime example of just how important it is to have a reliable, always on, wireless video communications network for public safety, especially in the event of a disaster.  A local VAR and systems integrator based in Portland, Oregon, ezWireless has been providing wireless network and broadband systems services all over the country since 1984. Two years ago, ezWireless was approached by the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) to participate in a large-scale decontamination drill held in Hermiston, Oregon. A partnership between the US Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), CSEPP assists communities near stockpile sites in planning and testing their response capabilities in case of a chemical event.

The drill included a federal military exercise to test emergency response systems and civilian behavior during a simulated leak of poison chemical gas in a populous area.  According to ezWireless’s vice president and general manager, Brad Kincaid, the integrator worked directly with the Hermiston Police Department to utilize its exclusive 4.9 GHz public safety network to run and record real-time video feeds of the exercise usingCambium’s PMP 400 Access Point deployed on a tower near the exercise location, as well as a Cambium PMP 400 Subscriber Module deployed on a truck in the field during the exercise.  The video network allowed CSEPP to monitor the exercise drill and response teams in real-time, making video feeds available to decision-makers.  Data was also streamed to an off-site server for further evaluation and documentation after the exercise was complete.

Despite uncertainty about the conditions they would be working in during the test, ezWireless was able to rely on Cambium’s PMP 400 throughout the entire day-long drill without a glitch, even when they had to power off and change locations during the exercise.

“Because we were getting power from our truck, whenever we had to leave the scene, we had to power off,” Kincaid said. “But the minute we plugged it back in, the network came right back up automatically.  We had none of the re-booting hassles that can occur with other equipment.”

As a result of how the PMP 400 performed during the Hermiston drill, ezWireless has continued to use the product as part of its other public safety applications.  And even the Hermiston Chief of Police Dan Coulmbe praised the product performance:

“We liked the way the product performed during the decontamination drill.  Its reliable video monitoring and archiving/evidentiary capabilities can help the CSEPP community and other public safety agencies provide better security for our citizens.”