Magazine Article | June 19, 2012

Persistence Nets IP Surveillance Deal

By Pedro Pereira, Business Solutions magazine

An integrator’s persistence and timely follow-up with a private school leads to a new client.

Today, securing a new client requires persistence and timely follow-up, and that’s exactly what worked for systems integrator United Security Alliance (USA). After three years of periodic follow-up, USA reconnected with a private school in Miami at the right time to discuss the replacement of an existing analog surveillance system with IP megapixel cameras, wireless technology, and video management software.

The school, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, is located on a 30-acre campus. “The timing wasn’t right initially, as is frequently the case,” recalls Terry Ottinger, president of USA. “The sales representative developed a relationship with the business manager of the school and several others over a period of time. In a subsequent conversation with them, they said the project had been turned over to IT for sourcing.”

It was September 2011, and the school's IT staff had just started to review video surveillance options. The IT staff had been in touch with two of USA's competitors, and that meant there was no time to waste. Already familiar with the school's needs, USA quickly drew up a proposal that ultimately won the bid to deploy 40 Arecont Vision IP cameras, 4 Cisco wireless bridges, and a Geutebrück video management system with advanced search-and-review capabilities.

Ottinger says, "They had specific questions about recorded video with search-and-review capabilities. We demonstrated that capability for them when others weren't able to." USA's 24/7 post-installation client support, its fix-or-replace warranty, and the relationship it had developed with the client also weighed in on the decision, Ottinger says.

High-Quality Video For Security And Asset Monitoring
The Arecont Vision cameras were installed to keep an eye on the external areas of the campus as well as interior areas such as hallways with student lockers. Cameras deployed around school grounds included 2-, 3-, and 5-megapixel models, some of which have day-and-night capabilities. Also included were seven 180-degree, panoramic, 8-megapixel cameras for some of the interior and exterior areas.

Ottinger says Arecont cameras offer features such as on-camera compression that reduces infrastructure and storage requirements. Most cameras don't offer that level of compression, which is processed in the management system. Arecont cameras also have low-light capability for nighttime picture color in dimly lit areas, while most cameras switch over to black and white in those settings.

The school wanted megapixel cameras that produce high-quality video for two main reasons — security and asset monitoring. Specifically, the school wanted to protect laptops issued to students. Students carry their equipment, including books and laptops, in backpacks that often are identical. If a student picks up someone else's backpack by mistake, figuring out who is the actual owner can be difficult. With 1,000 iPads on order for students at the time of the video surveillance installation, the school considered advanced search a priority.

With the Arecont cameras and the "smart search" capability of the Geutebrück video management software, matching backpack and owner takes only minutes, says Ottinger. Looking at footage from the cameras, a user "can draw a box on the screen where the book bag was and you ask the system to do a reverse search that goes back to find out when that bag was there," he explains. Seconds later, the system finds the instant when the bag was set down and the owner is identified.

More Business On The Way
USA designed and deployed the surveillance system for Belen Jesuit in about six weeks. The project included two USA engineers who designed the system and four of USA's Arecont/Geutebrück certified technicians who performed the installation. One day was spent training the school's staff on the system.

Ottinger says feedback from the school has been positive, and Belen Jesuit has asked USA to install six more cameras to cover additional areas of need, identified since the original installation. By using Belen Jesuit as a reference, says Ottinger, USA also is working on a number of new sales opportunities. "We are currently working with a number of private schools around the country on deploying similar systems," he says.