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LAPD leapfrogs to protect a national treasure

Special 'mesh' security cameras set up by the LAPD ensured the safety of space shuttle Endeavour on its final journey


As Endeavor made its way to its new home in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department kept a watchful eye with a unique surveillance camera network.

Having once reached 17,000 mph, the 75-ton space shuttle traveled just 2 miles an hour over the two-day journey across the 405 freeway and through Los Angeles, arriving at the California Science Center on Sunday. After almost 123 million miles in flight, the baby of the fleet was placed on a 160-wheeled carrier and guided by remote control to make the journey through LA's city streets.

To safeguard the 12-mile route in a cost-effective way, the LAPD constructed a special wireless network of HDTV-quality Axis surveillance cameras and used a special “leapfrog” technique to reconfigure it as the shuttle crept along.

And in a first, has obtained footage from those security cameras showing just what the spycams show.

The journey was held up by logistical issues, but it was a big success from a security perspective, said Michael Downing, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and commanding officer of LAPD's Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau.

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“Crowd and traffic control around major events bring about unique challenges, especially when it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event like this,” Downing said.

LAPD’s wireless mesh network was powered by Cobham technology and the automatic day/night functionality of the Axis cameras allowed LAPD to monitor the shuttle’s journey at night.

This type of “mesh” networking is cutting edge security, said Axis general manager Fredrik Nilsson.

“LAPD’s Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations bureau is at the forefront of using technology to protect the city’s people and assets,” Nilsson said.

The LAPD deployed a “leapfrog” approach, meaning as the shuttle passed beyond the first camera’s field of view, it was uninstalled and then reinstalled at the front of the surveillance network to continue the chain.

A 54-story L.A. skyscraper rooftop served as the relay site between the Axis cameras and radio nodes throughout the route. Using this approach, video footage overcame the vast distances flowed to LAPD central command post and officers’ mobile devices.

With Los Angeles residents turning out in droves to watch the shuttle on “Mission 26: The Big Endeavour,” security was of paramount importance.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries.  Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”  where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.