Crowds visiting the 2016 Festival of the Bells in Hillsboro will be protected by an added security feature, thanks to Hillsboro Police Chief Todd Whited and the Ohio Department of Homeland Security.
“SkyWatch” is a mobile surveillance tower that helps police and businesses “keep an eye on crowded areas and public events, helping in deterring car theft and burglary, assault, disturbances, and robbery,” according to a description from Homeland Security News Wire.
Whited said he applied for use of the tower for the festival several months ago. It is provided by state Homeland Security free of charge to qualifying events where several thousand people are expected to be gathered.
SkyWatch is equpped with cameras, and Whited said the tower offers a 360-degree view from a pod that will be alternately staffed by HPD or Homeland Security personnel. It includes a system that permits easy back-and-forth communication with officers on the ground.
“The challenge of preventing car theft and burglary, assault, disturbances, and robbery in crowded areas and public events presents a challenge to security authorities who do not have an appropriate vantage point,” according to the Homeland Security New Wire article. “SkyWatch, a mobile surveillance tower manufactured by ICx, a developer of advanced detection, surveillance, and intelligence technologies, has demonstrated the ability to deter potential offenders with its imposing structure and surveillance capabilities.”
The article noted that numerous police offices across the country are currently using the SkyWatch system on a regular basis, and it has been used for security at a variety of big national events, such as Super Bowl parking areas.