Shoddy Design Sinks Bay Area CCTV Systems – Security Sales & Integration

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has more to worry about regarding his city-funded video surveillance program than the collective outcry from throngs of residents who deride it as the watchful eye of Big Brother.

Detailed in a recent newspaper article, the city’s 68-camera system routinely fails to provide video streams capable of being used for evidence that could lead to arrests.

City officials told the San Francisco Chronicle the cameras, many of which are deployed on high-crime street corners, achieve only 80 percent of the resolution they are capable of, and that they generate, at best, two to four frames per second because the city lacks the data storage space to accommodate more footage.

However, neither the cameras nor the data storage are likely to be the true culprits of the faulty system, says Robert Grossman, president of R. Grossman and Associates, a consulting company specializing in project-based work for large integrated systems.

Paint a bulls-eye on the network infrastructure or better yet, the person who designed the system says Grossman, who learned about the city’s video woes after reading the recent newspaper article.

Some cameras are getting decent frame rates while other cameras in other areas aren’t, which points me away from storage and more toward network design, says Grossman. To me it is clearly a bandwidth issue.

San Francisco’s beleaguered 30-month -old surveillance program is a prime example of the huge responsibility systems integrators, specifiers and consultants assume when taking on a project. While the article never discussed who designed or installed the system, Grossman says the responsible parties should have warned the city its network infrastructure would not be capable of providing sufficient frame rates.

The integrator had to know this wasn’t going to work right and should have warned the city about the repercussions of this design, he says.

The surveillance system, which so far amounts to $900,000, includes megapixel cameras manufactured by San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based IQinVision.

Whoever integrated this system just loused it up, IQinVision President Peter DeAngelis tells SSI. They didn’t necessarily listen to the customer and determine what their needs for the system were.

The city has budgeted an additional $200,000 for 25 more cameras, the newspaper reported.

The message in all of this is if you have a problem project, then raise the red flag or don’t take the project, Grossman says. March 2008

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