Athens – City Wide CCTV Network

Upgrading a major city’s surveillance network is always going to be a massive undertaking. But how does an established capital city upgrade its network and prepare itself for an influx of more than double its usual population, whilst ensuring security at a time of international alert and continue with ‘business as usual’ for its residents?

This was the dilemma facing Athens in the run up to the 2004 Olympic Games. As part of its Olympic preparations, Athens upgraded the city’s road surveillance network to ensure good traffic management during the Games and for the long term benefit of residents. To give the city the surveillance network it would need to keep the Games moving, they turned to AMG Systems.

Visitors flock to Athens and Greece for a number of reasons, but the country’s historical sites and heritage as one of the cradles of civilisation certainly play a part. Greece was also the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games and, when the modern Olympic movement was founded, Athens hosted the first Games in 1896. The Olympic Games returned to their origins when Athens was chosen to host the XXVIII Olympiad. So began a race against time to ready the city to greet its largest ever influx of people.

In 2003, with Olympic sporting, accommodation and media facilities in the final stages of build, the Athens city authorities embarked on a major programme of improvements to unite the infrastructure. A crucial part of the plan was the upgrade of the inner ring road, which connects some of the city’s most important trunk and main roads.

5 Rings Depend on 2

AMG and Gentec CSW, their Greek partner and systems integrator, had just three months to install 210 cameras and transmission equipment along the 65km Attiki Odos Highway.

They also had to lay down all the fibre to connect each of the cameras with 2 control rooms, one for the Police and another for the Transport Ministry. The twin control rooms would give the system an additional layer of flexibility and resilience as a key part of the brief was to build in network resilience.

Flexible and Resilient

The final design was built around a dual fibre ring, capable of transmitting live, full bandwidth video images from any of the 210 cameras to either of the control rooms. AMG’s 2700 series transmission equipment drives this core circuitry with the AMG2900 series units used for some of the individual cameras. Vitally, if one of the fibres is accidentally damaged, the AMG equipment automatically routes video and data signals around the other fibre ring to maintain surveillance capability until a repair can be affected.

“Despite intense time pressure, this sophisticated design was put into place ready for the start of the Games”, says George Kitsios, Managing Director, Gentec CSW. “We handed over a surveillance network second to none and it played a major part in helping to ensure that the massive influx of Olympic traffic stayed mobile. The ability of control room staff to make decisions based on real, live data and to monitor the effectiveness of those decisions should not be underestimated. It is the key to flexible traffic management in urban environments”.

Real Time Monitoring and Control

The uncompressed video allows staff in the control rooms to monitor traffic anywhere on the ring road in real time. As the network design eliminates latency, they can also pan, tilt and zoom individual cameras and see the effect immediately. This is very important in an incident or emergency situation where high quality images of the scene and the surroundings may be critical in managing the response.

The AMG2700 series backbone is especially suitable for the planned expansion. Images are transmitted in a real time, full bandwidth, digital format and this ensures high quality transmission regardless of distance. As the need to compress the video signal is eliminated, unlike IP or SDH networks, quality is not compromised and latency is to all intents non-existent. “These qualities are perfect in a traffic management scenario and permit rapid evaluations of the state of the roads to be made”, says George Kitsios.

Put in place in only 90 days, just in time for the start of the 2004 Olympic Games, the CCTV system has continued to prove its worth since. “The volume of traffic and its concentration in certain, key areas, may have gone down since the Games but normal commuting and freight operations continue unabated”, comments George Kitsios. “Already we have increased the camera count, from 210 to 300, and we are now planning to expand the network with more cameras covering an even greater area”.

“We handed over a surveillance network second to none and it played a major part in helping to ensure that the massive influx of Olympic traffic stayed mobile”


  • Each of the 210 cameras is linked to two control rooms
  • Total highway covered is 65km
  • Either control room can access in real time any camera along the ring road
  • 2 fibre optic rings with resilient redundancy in case of fibre breakage with automatic switching
  • Reporting system advises the maintenance engineer of the problem
  • AMG2700 offers easy integration links to other networks
  • The video signal is not compressed. This ensures that video quality is not compromised and latency is eliminated
  • System has already been extended to 300 cameras and retains capacity for further expansion