A wireless communications antenna is mounted on a 250-foot-tall water tower in Pensacola, Fla. The tower provides 360° coverage for the city’s wireless video surveillance system.
When the police department in Pensacola, Fla., sought to expand its limited wireless public video surveillance system, an open bid solicitation went out to identify integrators that could meet the city's rigid expectations.
More than quadrupling the existing four-camera system would present installation challenges the city had not experienced previously. In order to achieve the extensive coverage the city desired, substantial measures would need to be taken. Namely, surmounting topography hurdles to ensure a clear line of sight for multiple cameras back to a single collection point.
Learn how the city's needs were achieved in the form of a point-to-point wireless network, as well as what put the winning integrator's proposal over the top.
Detailed Project Bid Wins the Job
The city of Pensacola purchased its first public video surveillance system in 2007. Pleased with the performance of the four-camera, Motorola Canopy wireless network, it wasn't long before law enforcement advocated for a significant expansion.
The city received funding from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, which is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. Armed with a $203,000 grant, the city opened a bid solicitation process seeking integrators that could take the video surveillance system to new heights (pun intended, as will soon be revealed).
"More than 25 people showed up for the prebid meeting and we had seven that actually submitted bids," says Lt. Tommi Lyter of the Pensacola Police Department.
An independent panel was assembled to review and score each of the bid proposals based on content, previous experience, cost and other factors. In the end, one integrator in particular outshined the competition - locally based Advanced Control Concepts Inc. (ACCI).
Lauded for attention to detail in explaining what components would be used and how the installation would proceed, the ACCI proposal "knocked it out of the park," Lyter says.
In the end, it wasn't the lowest bid on the table that persuaded city officials.
"The good news for us it was not one of those solicitations necessarily based on low cost," says ACCI Sales Engineer and Project Manager Doug Taylor. "We were not the low bidder. We were like No. 3, but they felt like our proposal offered them the best value for the city. It was up to us to do a little front-end engineering and explain how the job was going to be accomplished."
Point-to-Point or Bust
Established in 1985 and a member of the PSA Security Network, ACCI is a full-service provider of electronic security solutions to the commercial, institutional, military and government markets. The company has provided wireless solutions for about seven years, which proved beneficial in helping it win the project to expand the Pensacola PD video surveillance system.
Replacing the Motorola system, ACCI selected a point-to-point wireless solution by Fluidmesh, including units from the 2200, 1100 and MITO Series, which are designed specifically for backhaul applications. The grant money allowed the city to initially purchase an additional 13 cameras to add to its existing four Sony 550 pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) models. The new additions are all Axis Q6032 p/t/z models using a single Cat-5 cable for power over Ethernet (PoE). At the front end of the system, ACCI elected to go with Lenel's SkyPoint NVR and video management system (VMS), which utilizes OnSSI's Ocularis technology.
The police department conducted a crime survey to determine how it could maximize the coverage area with the additional cameras. On a large city map, the police plotted locations of recent types of crimes. The areas with the most dense crime clusters would receive a camera. Other sites, such as a city park or other public area where festivals and outdoor entertainment are held, also were allotted coverage.
With the camera locations identified, the next objective was to attain the best signal possible to ensure high video quality with no latency.
"Wireless mesh was definitely the way to go for this installation because of distance, direction and topology," Taylor says.
Installation work commenced in August. ACCI identified the city's 250-foot-tall water tower to mount the Fluidmesh antennas and other equipment. It proved an ideal collection point, affording 360° coverage for all signal feeds directly from each camera. However, electing to go with a point-to-point path would present Taylor and his installation crew their largest hurdle — achieving a clean line of site from each camera location to the water tower.
"Every time you do a relay you lose a little bit of the functionality, so we wanted to have a single point-to-point with all these cameras," Taylor says. "We didn't want to have to do any hopping." Read More...