Magazine Article | October 18, 2012

Integrator Leans On Distributor For Help With 170 Camera Surveillance System

By Brian Albright, Business Solutions Magazine

Security specialist VTI saved hundreds of man-hours of labor by having its value-added distributor help out on a large camera and storage project.

VTI is a security integrator that initially serviced the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, but has since grown to six offices in five states. The firm is currently waist-deep in a surveillance camera deployment for a large, light-rail project that will require more than 170 cameras to be installed at new rail stations and other facilities, while tying in 162 channels of analog video from existing systems. VTI is also responsible for a mass storage solution, long-term video storage, redundancy/ failover capabilities, and linking the video from multiple sources together.

The public bid contract is with a third-party firm working on the ongoing construction project, which means VTI is several steps away from the end user client. That posed challenges in the design of the solution, since the integrator had no direct contact with the actual customer. The company also had to design, set up, and test the entire solution in its own facilities prior to deployment.

VTI came up with a system that includes Panasonic WV-SW395 and WV-SW355 surveillance cameras, Nexsan storage units (providing 330 terabytes of storage in each of two locations), Marathon Technologies failover software, and Nextiva video management software. For the cameras, the company approached several distributors and eventually struck a deal with ScanSource.

ScanSource supplied the cameras, preprogrammed them, and labeled them with the correct IP and Mac addresses. “ScanSource came back not only with the best prices, but also value-added services that really saved us a lot of labor,” says Alex Motta, manager of purchasing and procurement at VTI.

Since the entire system had to be configured at VTI’s facilities, the work that ScanSource did helped speed the completion of this phase of the project and keep costs down. “If ScanSource had not preprogrammed those IP addresses, we would have had to do all of that work in our on-site lab, in addition to making the system fully functional prior to going on the actual work site,” says Bryan Viau, executive VP at VTI. “That saved us hundreds of man-hours of labor.”

Designing The Storage Solution
A key challenge on the project was determining the storage requirements of the system. “We won the bid by having the best solution at the best price, but we earned the business by having the ability to formulate the amount of storage required based on camera settings, image quality, and retention requirements for the client,” Viau says.

A key part of the company’s success with this bid was VTI’s ability to familiarize itself with the new technologies involved, due in large part to the preparation the company has done as the market shifts from analog to networked video solutions. “We were working with new technology, some of which wasn’t even on the market at the time we won the bid,” Viau says. “A good deal of the final design was done after the bid specs. We were challenged on the technical side, but fortunately for us we’ve spent three to five years training and hiring people who know how to work with these types of systems.”

Right now, the entire surveillance solution is set up in VTI’s lab. The rail project is scheduled for completion next year, and the cameras will likely be rolled out throughout 2014 as the new stations are constructed. VTI will have an ongoing warranty responsibility for the system and will also handle end user training. “That’s going to be very important,” Viau says. “We have to turn this system over to the end users and not only make it fully functional, but ensure they know how to use it. It’s important that the customer knows how to use what they paid for.”