The massive storm surge whipped up by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 that flooded Manhattan and ravaged the coastlines of New Jersey and New York has been well documented.
A lesser-known property casualty of the devastating super storm was the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The historic landmark was overwhelmed with salt water. Though the structure itself was not damaged, much of the infrastructure was, including the high-voltage electrical systems.
“Post Sandy the operations here were pretty severely impacted by the tidal surge,” says Capt. Gregory J. Norman, Liberty District Commander of the U.S. Park Police. “As a result of the high floods, a lot of our camera system was severely damaged.”
The challenge posed by the devastation also yielded an opportunity – the chance to upgrade an outdated analog security camera system. That was due in part to the generosity of NYC-based security firm Total Recall Corporation, which offered to donate a state-of-the-art replacement. The cash-strapped federal agencies gladly accepted, and an aggressive project completion date of July 4, 2012 – for all repairs and updates to the Statue of Liberty site, not just the security system – was established.
The deadline was met. The new system is an IP-based, all-digital security solution designed to enhance public safety and improve operational efficiencies. Analog CCTV was migrated to the latest digital video technology and a command center, run from nearby Ellis Island, was installed.
The new system provides command center operators with much better image quality and also includes backup power systems, but Norman says that the most significant change is the move of that command center from Liberty Island to an off-island location well above the floodplain.
The upgraded technology is critical for monitoring and managing vessel and visitor flow on an off the island. During a media tour of the new facilities on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, command center operators demonstrated how all subjects monitored over the course of a multi-hour period can be brought up onscreen at once, each visible with a time-stamp code next to them. This eliminates the need for scrolling through hours of footage in linear fashion. Norman showed two examples of the improved capabilities.
One involved an incident last summer when a ferry shuttling visitors to Liberty Island lost power and crashed into a pier. The cameras caught the incident, enabling thorough visual analysis of the accident. Another example was when a couple became separated from one another. Command center operators were able to quickly scrub through the feeds to pinpoint both spouses and inform the one who contacted them whereabouts of the other.
Having capabilities like those makes the Statue of Liberty both more secure and more efficient, says Norman.
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