JerseyNet—the New Jersey early-builder public-safety LTE project that operates on FirstNet’s 700 MHz spectrum—officially will not be launched for weeks, but the system’s dedicated broadband connectivity already is being used to let Atlantic City police use high-definition video to help secure key city events.

Lt. Jim Sarkos of the Atlantic City police department said his agency will not begin using the JerseyNet system for day-to-day operations until mobile routers are installed in officers' vehicles, but the dedicated throughput of the network was leveraged during the recent Maroon 5 and Rascal Flatts beach concerts that attracted tens of thousands of attendees.

“Once those routers are all installed in our cars, that’s when we’ll begin using it day to day. But we’re not at that point yet,” Sarkos said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We kind of jumped the gun here [using JerseyNet], … but it’s great to point out that we’ve already seen the benefits. “We jumped the gun on it, we’ve used it right away and we’ve already seen benefits from it. It is really exciting for us, and we’re happy to be part of this.”

Police used the five-site, fixed network of deployable LTE assets in Atlantic City to transmit video of beach concerts from deployable trailers—each with a mast supporting two high-definition cameras and a night-vision camera—to a command center and plan to use the same technology to help secure events associated with this week’s Miss America pageant, Sarkos said.

William Mazur, deputy chief for the Atlantic City police department who led the security effort at the beach concerts, said having reliable video from the events made his job easier.

“Video assets are just absolutely critical, and we haven’t always had that luxury in the past,” Mazur said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

Leveraging the JerseyNet infrastructure is an example of Atlantic City police trying to “get ahead of the curve” in the technology arena—something that is challenging for any government agency, Mazur said.

“Government doesn’t have an open checkbook,” he said. “A lot of our issues in government and public safety are that we can’t always stay in lock step with technology, because of the cost. But this is one example where we’re ahead of the curve, and that makes us extremely proud to be part of it.”

Deploying mobile trailers with cameras recording video is not new for Atlantic City police, but attempts to leverage the video in real time to make security resource decisions have failed in the past, because police only had access to commercial wireless systems to transmit the data, Sarkos said.

“Every time we set up these cameras and have them transmitting data over the public cellular network back to our command post, it always works flawlessly before the event,” Sarkos said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “But once these massive crowds arrive and densely populate that area, we notice that the cameras freeze up, we lose the feed and everything stops working. Then, once everyone leaves, everything works again.”

Sarkos said the problem is one that public safety has experienced throughout the country when trying to utilize commercial wireless networks that get saturated by consumer use—indeed, the situation is one that is a key reason for FirstNet being established.

“The reason is that too many people utilize their cell phones and it crashes the system, and it’s something that we’ve noticed getting worse and worse over the years,” Sarkos said. “We believe that’s the case because of social media—everyone who comes to these events wants to tweet photos of themselves at the event, as well as use Instagram, Facebook and everything else. There’s just so much data going through those lines that it can’t support it all, along with our equipment.

“What we found was that, when we deploy these cameras and use them the most, we didn’t have them.”