Metro Police Use AviSight for Aerial Surveillance

Fireworks explode over the Las Vegas Strip just after midnight Monday, January 1, 2002. The photo is taken looking north at the south end of The Strip from the top of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino. An estimated 282,000 visitors came to Las Vegas to celebrate the New Year. STEVE MARCUS / LAS VEGAS SUN

Rather than try to keep up with the cost of technology on its own, Metro will be outsourcing at least one key operation for big events in Las Vegas.

Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee on Monday approved a one-year contract with AviSight, a company based in Las Vegas, worth approximately $60,000.

According to Metro Deputy Chief of Homeland Security Patrick Neville, AviSight will provide the department with aerial video recording on big events, such as New Year’s Eve. For years, Metro’s Air Support Unit has flown helicopters with cameras attached to give police a view of what was happening in a massive crowd.

Typically, Neville said, police departments buy the cameras, train their employees on how to use them and pay for the upkeep on the equipment. But with camera technology constantly and rapidly evolving, Neville said it became cost-prohibitive for Metro to keep up.

Now, AviSight will instead fly a small airplane — a Cessna 206 — for Las Vegas police and provide them with real-time video feedback for those large-scale events.

By outsourcing the work, Neville said, the department should save money in the future simply by not having to upgrade or buy new equipment, as well as by eliminating the need to use the Air Support Unit for those big events.

AviSight’s cameras already far outpace Metro’s current equipment, Neville said, bringing better-quality high-definition cameras with the ability to record in extremely low light as well as infrared sensors that could be utilized in cases of hikers who get lost or stranded during storms on Mount Charleston.

And while Metro will use the company’s small plane for the near future, Neville said, the eventual plan is to use AviSight’s drones to further streamline the process. But that won’t happen until the Federal Aviation Administration releases its regulations on larger drones, such as Predators and Global Hawks, which the company said could take three to five years.

“It’s high technology, high training and high maintenance,” Neville said. “The technology they are able to bring forth is outstanding in my opinion.”

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