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SOFIA SAFE CITY SECURES EU PRESIDENCY
Open Platform Based System for Improved Safety and Security
Card image
Borislava Kenarova
Regional SalesManager, South Europe & EMEA
janvier 17, 2020
Ministry of Interior is one of the largest, most complex public sector institutions in Bulgaria responsible for preserving the safety and security of its borders and citizens. With Bulgaria being an external border of the European Union (EU), the Ministry is facing a daily challenge to keep Europe and its citizens safe.
The Challenge
With the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2018, the Bulgarian MoI recognized the need to integrate existing systems and shift towards a data-driven organization, upgrading and hardening public security by implementing proactive measures and reducing incident response times. Due to the presence of high-level officials, increased protest activity, civil disturbances and potential terrorist attacks were anticipated. Therefore, the main focus was ensuring public safety via detection and prevention of potential security threats. A key area to secure was the National Palace of Culture (NDK), where most scheduled events hosted 40,000+ delegates during Bulgaria’s presidency. On the one hand, this required limiting the number of system operators and increasing the efficiency of video feed through analytical capabilities. On the other hand, a major challenge was consolidating various sources of city-wide information into a single system. A few factors made the task even more complex: most systems were separate, inadequate and lacking important functionalities; legacy products from different vendors operated independently of one another; users could view video only from specific workstations; each system had to be monitored separately.
The Solution
MoI and Sofia Municipality collaborated with a national partner to upgrade security both city-wide and at NDK by designing and implementing an Integrated Automated Security System (IASS) linking video surveillance and information exchange systems. The digital transformation project Sofia Safe City led to shifting to a single tool for smart policing, enabling more information-driven decisions to be taken at any given time, and providing better instruments for subsequent investigation. Digital technologies were leveraged via a Microsoft Domain Awareness System, making Bulgaria the first EU country to implement it. Video streams were consolidated into a single Milestone XProtect® Corporate video management system (VMS) integrated with various internal systems (people/vehicles register, access control) and managing thousands of in- and outdoor cameras from nine different vendors (analogue/IP). Thus, Milestone provided a platform for proactive monitoring and quick detection of incident's location, enhancing law enforcement’s ability to handle events effectively in different scenarios. Among them are automated alerting when a stolen vehicle’s license plate recognition (LPR) was detected on camera, people running, unattended luggage, people loitering in main venue and restricted areas, crossing a line, etc.  Agent Vi’s savVi video analytics software was selected to monitor video feeds, enabling real-time alerts and responses, and fast post-event investigation, replacing the time-consuming task of watching live video and/or manually reviewing recorded video. 500 new IP cameras were installed at NDK, of which 50 were savVi-enabled; of the 2,000+ city cameras, 350 were savVi-enabled at key locations. This digital transformation empowered police with field-preparedness and faster responses in critical situations.
Milestone provided a unified platform for proactive real-time monitoring and quick detection of incidents among all surveillance centers of Sofia Municipality and Ministry of Interior. This enhanced local law enforcement’s ability to handle events effectively.
Mladen Petrov, Director of Communication and Information Systems Directorate, Ministry of Interior
The Advantages
The upgraded Sofia Safe City project was initiated to reinforce public safety and security by enabling proactive policing, reducing incident response times, and speeding up post-event investigation. An intelligent solution, IASS consists of numerous sensors and interconnected systems, and analyzes countless information, providing real-time alerts to the end-user and faster evidence finding using less manpower. Another advantage is the extreme flexibility of the solution in regard to additional future integrations with various systems. IASS is intended to become the first AI tool for police investigation, safety preservation, and crime prevention on a national level. The unified system has proven to be successful and is considered to be replicated in other major cities in Bulgaria, as well as it is now being presented for consideration to other future host cities of the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The only thing that was missing was a powerful VMS solution that provides open architecture for integration of sensors from different manufacturers. IASS is intended to become the first AI tool for police investigation, safety preservation and crime prevention on a national level.
Maksim Vladimirov, Sr. Expert, Communications & Information Systems, Ministry of Interior
The Missing Piece
Different departments of the Ministry from all over the country used to have local analog CCTV systems without any outside access whatsoever. Apart from that, they were closed systems used for video surveillance on premises only and were not interconnected with the numerous automated informational systems that the Ministry possesses. Therefore, the need for centralization of systems and coordination of forces was a necessity. With the upscaling and the modernization of the IT structure of the Ministry and the ongoing development of modern CCTV systems, the Ministry already had the infrastructure needed for upgrading its security systems. The only thing that was missing in this digital transformation project was a powerful VMS solution that provides open architecture for integration of sensors from different manufacturers. The obvious choice was the Milestone platform.
Milestone’s open architecture allows an ongoing incorporation of products and tools to upgrade the Ministry’s unified security system.
Mladen Petrov, Director of Communication and Information Systems Directorate, Ministry of Interior
The Open Platform Fulfilling the Requirements
Using Milestone XProtect as the core of the IASS placed the Ministry’s security systems in the present field of modern technologies and intelligent security systems. The open architecture and accessible pricing of the platform were useful advantages in the process of creating the unified security system for the purposes of the Ministry with the help of one of Milestone’s technology partners.

The system was designed using the latest solutions in cybersecurity. Bosch devices are used for video surveillance purposes mostly by municipalities across the country. Agent Vi’s video analytics have been used both at NDK and city-wide. Real-time detection allows security staff to stay on top of security breaches, enabling them to immediately verify the nature of the incident and to stop any suspicious behavior before it escalates into a more serious situation. Video search helps provide situational awareness and control situations in near-real time, as events unfold. The video surveillance tools that have been introduced into the consolidated system work around-the-clock and can be used in emergency situations such as an “attack” scenario. Agent Vi’s savVi delivers highly accurate real-time event detections of unauthorized activity and/or security breaches. Users define potential events of interest in advance; the Control Room receives alerts when such events occur, enabling immediate responses to incidents, as they emerge. If an incident is reported, savVi’s Video Search tool can be applied to rapidly review the recorded video in near real-time for enhanced situational awareness and rapid incident response. Milestone software and LPR provide the framework for road officials to make quick detection of an incident's location, to proactively respond to events, reduce response times and to provide law enforcement agencies with the ability to handle emergencies in a more effective way. With Video Push, security officers can transmit live video from problem areas to a central security office and react immediately in emergency/attack situation. Interactive maps and Camera Navigator can be used to easily move across a wide geographical location with thousands of cameras. Thus, BriefCam, which was recently acquired through a major public tender, is now used for border and inland security. The software is about to be implemented as an investigative tool for police operatives.