A few months ago, a new customer contacted us about a problem he was having in his business. He’s in the property management business and had recently acquired a new contract for a large condo complex in a popular tourist area. His first task, in his mind, was to update the building’s security. He thought it would be easy to find a contractor and a CCTV system that would work for this unique building. He ran into so many problems, and eventually called us for advice.
As a first step, we assisted him with in designing a protocol for evaluating facility security and judging contract proposals. The basic premise – make sure that every camera is fit for purpose and work from the courtroom backwards. Who would have thought that this simple plan would be so difficult to implement?
Make sure that every camera is fit for purpose.
For every camera deployed, what is it’s purpose? What is it there to capture? Does it actually accomplish the goal? If the goal is to capture faces with a entry door camera, does it capture the faces accurately? Does the view contain enough pixels in the target area? The purpose should include a metric – the amount of pixels in the area of concern or the percentage of the view dedicated to satisfying the purpose. This is known as the nominal resolution, which is quite different than the camera’s specified resolution. The purpose for each camera should be listed in the security plan. In this way, there will be no ambiguity in dealing with contractors / vendors.
Along side of this is the recorder. Does the recorder’s technology support the security plan? Does it use appropriate encoding technology for each camera’s purpose? Does it have enough processing power to handle all of the camera feeds? As an example, if your requirements state that the recorder should be able to handle sixteen 2MP feeds each sending 30fps, can the suggested recorder do this without dropping data or overly compressing the footage? Again, this should all be listed in the security plan.
Work from the courtroom backwards.
Wherever your building is located, get to know your local law enforcement agency. If a crime occurs, you’ll be calling them for help. Thus, it’s helpful to know how they are going to respond and with what resources. There’s no point in installing a CCTV system if the local agency won’t be able to effectively work with the data from recordings.
Working from the courtroom backwards means giving the courts the CCTV evidence in a format that they can work with. This will vary from area to area. In Texas, it may mean a container / codec combination of .mp4/H264. If that isn’t the native file format of the system under consideration, and you live in Texas, how easy is it to convert the files without loss? Remember, it must be done in a valid and reliable way.
In our customer’s case, his building is in Los Angeles County, in an area patrolled by the LA Sheriff’s Department. (As a side note, because of California’s new privacy law, all of his California properties now have a sign posted in plain view in the security room listing all authorized users and affirming that they have permission to use/access the digital system).
He discovered the many file type / technology limitations confronting the City Attorney’s Office and the District Attorney. He found out what tools are used by the Sheriff’s investigators and analysts.
He included a simple statement in his RFP – the recordings generated by the proposed system shall be compatible with the investigative / forensic technology deployed by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the criminal/civil court districts in Los Angeles County.
His RFP had a purpose statement for every proposed camera placement. It had a purpose statement for the recorder, along with tasks the recorder must be able to perform – like remote monitoring, alarms, etc.
If you’d like our assistance in your infrastructure protection project, contact us today. We’re helping customers all over the world achieve their protection goals. We can help you too.