Keep An Eye On Surveillance Solutions Costs
By Brian Albright, Business Solutions magazine
Competitive pricing and installation expertise lead to a successful and profitable surveillance system deployment for this reseller in the education vertical.
Most customers who need surveillance or security solutions are not primarily in the business of managing and monitoring security systems. That means ease-of-use (along with solutions cost) is just as important as the features. California reseller VectorUSA recently landed a surveillance system contract with a large school district, and the company’s ability to deliver an easy-to-use, affordable system was key to the win.
Torrance, CA,-based VectorUSA specializes in designing and building data, voice, and video networks with expertise in unified communications solutions, intelligent surveillance systems, and managed services. According to Jeff Zukerman, executive vice president of business development, the company was approached by a large urban school district and the local police department about deploying video surveillance solutions that would help authorities and administrators improve safety and security, reduce theft, and provide sufficient visual evidence to prosecute any crimes that did occur on school premises. The VAR had already provided the phone network for the school district, and it was asked to develop specifications and perform a needs analysis for the security system.
“The chief of police wanted something that would act as a force multiplier because there were limited resources, and the resources they had typically were not where they needed to be when something was actually happening,” Zukerman says. “Everyone was frustrated.”
The police chief wanted a system that anyone could use to monitor the 50-plus facilities and that would provide automated alerts, alarms, and perimeter control. While the school district paid for the solution, the police department administrates and monitors the camera feeds and responds to alerts.
Once the project went up for bid, VectorUSA’s GSA (General Services Administration) schedule pricing beat out competitive bids by a wide margin. Since the company had conducted the needs analysis, it was already attuned to the system requirements. “We had to get buy-in from both parties,” Zukerman says. “They also didn’t want analog or older technology. They wanted something IP-based and forward-facing.”
The company developed a system that used a variety of fixed, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ), and infrared cameras, including the Sony DH180J, DH140TJ, DH280, EP550, and EP580 models, sending video to HP DL380e servers. The district needed cameras for both indoor and outdoor coverage, as well as the ability to capture images at night. “For the cameras, we needed sharp enough images that they could get clear video that could be used to prosecute people after the fact,” Zukerman says. “We chose Sony because of their optics; they are competitively priced, and we rarely have failures with the hardware.”
An OnSSI IP-based video management system (VMS) is the brains of the solution. “The VMS is software-based, not appliance-based, and the features and functions are very intuitive,” Zukerman says. “It can scale to thousands of cameras, and we can easily teach a security guard to use the system.”
Intelligent VMS Provides Automated Alerts
The company is installing an average of around 70 cameras per facility, and once the contract is complete will have deployed nearly 3,500 cameras at more than 50 locations. Each location is deployed as the district allocates funds for the project, with the most troubled facilities targeted first.
Installing the equipment at the existing facilities has been straightforward thanks to the hardware and VectorUSA’s team of 500 employees. “The biggest challenge is that we’re working in schools, and there are rules about where you can put a camera and what you can film and still get good coverage,” Zukerman says.
Zukerman says most of the company’s margin on a project like this is in labor. “We can leverage some lower-cost people to do what other integrators use higher cost labor to accomplish,” he says. “The Internet is an equalizer when it comes to commodity pricing, and anybody can go out and see how much the equipment costs.”
Jeff Zukerman, executive vice president of business development, VectorUSA
The police department monitors the solution. If the cameras pick up movement at the perimeter, the VMS is alerted and generates an alarm and a page for the police. Principals and administrators also get alerts when there is an incident at the building. A loudspeaker system on the premises plays a canned message letting intruders know they are being filmed and that they should leave the premises. “The police can also speak live through that system if necessary,” Zukerman says.
The system is up and running at five sites, and according to Zukerman the customer has already prevented several thefts and provided video of fights that occurred on the properties. “The chief feels this is the tool that is going to help fix some of the problems they have,” Zukerman says.
So far, the district considers the solution a success. “The bad guys go where things are easy to get away with, and once it is known that a location is being monitored, they are less likely to target that building,” Zukerman says. “They know somebody is watching.”