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Paper trail: Four key documents that describe the SPD’s new surveillance network

Security self portrait Credit: Photo: Flickr User shannonkringen

Crosscut reviewed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Seattle Police Department’s federally-funded "port security" surveillance camera and data network project. The documentation included requests for proposals (RFP), contracts, technical specifications and communications with the project’s bidders. These three key documents, marked "exempt from public disclosure" but provided to Crosscut by the city, detailed elements of the project that were not widely reported.

  1. The "Police Video Diagram" shows the desired configuration of the system, how it should connect to other agencies, and which parts were paid for by the federal grant. SPD managers have said since that the implementation of the program differs from the contract documents.
  2. The "Network Diagram" shows how the geographic footprint of the wireless "mesh network" was planned to extend beyond the location of 30 waterway cameras. 
  3. The "ITS Interoperability Diagram" shows how a spur of the wireless network to be installed down Jackson Street and south along Rainier Avenue would connect with SDOT and King County Metro transportation information systems.

A fourth document, the contract between the city and Cascade Networks Inc., which is the builder of the system, includes details such as the planned acquisition of six powerful thermal imaging cameras that can “see” heat sources within boats or buildings. The thermal imaging cameras are FLIR Voyager II models, according to Monty Moss of the SPD, who also told Crosscut that only three of the cameras have been acquired to date. The cameras are supposed to be installed on harbor patrol boats.

Also in the contract, while the supplier proposed a Panasonic model camera for the 30 waterway locations, the actual models installed are Canon VB-M40 and Canon VB-H41 models.

All told, the documents raise an important question: If the RFP and contract documents specify certain program qualities — the ability to link to partners, for example, or the use of certain types of equipment — but city staff say that something else has been done or installed, how will the public know with certainty what precisely the system entails? That will take further investigation.


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