The Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD) recently deployed a new interoperability response and preparedness system to provide a secure communication channel for officers working in the field during crowded events and emergencies.
The system, called Mutualink, allows law enforcement personnel to communicate by voice, video and data with other officers or private stakeholders across a secure, invitation-only network. The platform eliminates the challenges that first responders face with using public data networks, such as connectivity jams and slowed data transmission.
Additionally, Mutualink is on the approved product list for both the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The system is currently being used by thousands of public safety agencies, hospitals and schools throughout the country.
Mutualink has helped the ACPD leverage its surveillance efforts after Atlantic City recently installed 230 city-owned security cameras across the boardwalk.
“What’s great about the Mutualink system is not only can I see the feeds of casino-owned cameras in real-time, I can return the favor and share my camera feeds with them,” ACPD Det. Capt. James Sarkos said in an interview with Homeland Preparedness News.
Sarkos said Mutualink also gives him the ability to talk to all casinos at once with a single button, as opposed to having to communicate with each one individually.
A key feature of Mutualink technology is the interoperable work station, which allows a user to share video, pictures and voice in real-time with other users across a closed, secure network.
In addition to every casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk having access to the platform, the Atlantic City Convention Center, the AltantiCare Regional Medical Center and the New Jersey State Police’s Regional Operation Intelligence Center also have the ability to communicate and transmit data over Mutualink.
ACPD had success with Mutualink when it used the platform to secure a large area of land for the recent 70-mile Atlantic City Ironman Triathlon, a major event that came a day after an improvised explosive device was detonated in Seaside Park, New Jersey.
“We increased the security for the event and Mutualink was a major part of that,” Sarkos said.
“While the changes might not have been in our plan from day one, once that incident happened, in relatively no time, we were able to greatly expand our response plan with Mutualink with almost no advance notice,” he added.
Although Mutualink is useful with crowded events and high-stakes scenarios, Sarkos said he envisions using the platform in other facets of daily police work.
Prior to Mutualink’s introduction, the ACPD would use a fax machine or email to distribute a suspect’s wanted poster to various security units across the city. The problem with those options, Sarkos said, is that fax machines degrade the image quality of a suspect and emails sometimes did not reach the intended recipient until hours later.
ACPD is currently developing a centralized technology center called the real-time crime center, which will be fully operational in December.
The center will be equipped with Mutualink connectivity along with the latest detection technology such as ShotSpotter, a gunfire detection system that conveys the location of gunfire using acoustic and optical sensors.