Armada Global, Inc., a Central Pennsylvania-based high-tech surveillance and security firm, has developed a tool that is changing the way companies conduct their investigations. Owned and operated by former operations officers for CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Armada Global insisted on a more covert approach to their surveillance, breaking the mold of using the stereotypical dark tinted SUV or van.

“We know that most people associate surveillance with this type of vehicle, and I was determined to find a way to develop a system that allowed our investigators to blend more seamlessly with their environment,” explained Zach Grove, company president.

After months of testing and re-tooling, Zach developed the Unmanned Video Surveillance Platform. The system consists of a pan/tilt/zoom camera that is covertly concealed on the interior of a car without any tinted windows or other stereotypical “surveillance” fittings. The camera is covertly connected to an interior digital video recorder (DVR), which saves all recorded material for later retrieval and editing. The vehicle is parked in a location within eye-shot of the surveillance location and left alone, seemingly empty. The investigators then position themselves in a second vehicle nearby to conduct trailing surveillance if or when it is necessary and view all the activity on a laptop via a secure internet connection.

“The beauty of this system is that my investigators can see what is going on in real-time and can control the camera’s movements with the click of a mouse. We have eliminated the need to place an investigator in a sometimes compromising position without sacrificing any visibility. It is more covert and much more effective,” stated Grove.

The Unmanned Video Surveillance Platform is utilized in nearly all of Armada Global’s investigations and is only inhibited by lack of vehicle parking or low/no wireless signal since the system operates via wireless technologies. It has now been used and proven successful in thousands of hours of real surveillance cases.

There are, of course, obvious benefits to using this system like more covert surveillance and increased officer safety since personnel don’t need to be physically present to view and record activity.

Unmanned Video Surveillance Platform“Safety is sometimes a huge concern to us, especially when we’re operating in urban areas known to have a high crime rate. I feel better knowing that I’m not putting my people out where it would not be safe for them,” said Grove. “We drop the Unmanned Video Surveillance Platform in place and then move to a location, possibly a public establishment on a busy street, where safety would not be as much of a concern.”

Another advantage to using the Unmanned Video Surveillance Platform is the potential to decrease budgetary requirements. On cases where trailing surveillance is not needed or required, the system can be placed in position and then monitored and controlled from the home office. This allows for fewer personnel to be out on the streets and has the potential to cut payroll significantly. Increased investigator comfort is also another significant benefit, especially when dealing with temperature extremes.

“Anyone who has ever sat in the back of a vehicle to conduct surveillance knows that there is nothing worse than a hot, summer day,” explained Grove. “Opening the vehicle’s windows or, worse yet, turning the vehicle on to run the AC, largely decreases the covertness of the operation. The Unmanned Video Surveillance Platform can run effectively in very hot and cold temperatures, which allows the investigator to sit comfortably in air conditioning throughout the day.”

Armada Global’s management team has come to realize during the two-years that they have been utilizing the Unmanned Video Surveillance Platform that it would have a tremendous benefit to law enforcement, especially for narcotics investigations or pre-raid planning. As such, they are now scheduling demonstrations and making the system available for purchase by law enforcement or licensed private investigators. The Unmanned Video Surveillance Platform can be customized for specific needs or uses and comes with two pan/tilt/zoom cameras, DVR, battery power, connecting cables, a laptop, and all required software in a rugged Pelican Case for easy storage and deployment. An Armada Global representative will also provide up to 20-hours of system set-up and training.

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