Only Bids For Avigilon Will Be Accepted

Ongoing RFP - only bids for Avigilon will be accepted.

Check out the full RFP.

What do you think?

[UPDATE: Here Is Who Won The Avigilon Only Bid (And Their Line Item Breakdown)]


[Note: Poster is an Avigilon dealer.]

I think it looks no different than other bids I see. The county knows what they want and has a bid out for that equipment. Looks like the salesman did his job and either seeded the account with Avigilon early and that's why they are flat specified or convinced them that they need to have it flat specified. Either way, kudos to him/her for doing a good job. No story here that I can see.

Most RFPs I see that specify a specific manufacturer provide an alternative / equals section.

This one is quite strict:

"No Substitutes : Only bids for Avigilon security camera systems, including cameras, network video recorders, enterprise software licenses, pendant mount brackets, and junction boxes will be accepted. If bidder bids an alternative security camera system as a proposed substitute to the Avigilon security camera systems, as specified in this IFB, the bid shall be deemed non-responsive."

I agree with Undisclosed A and we are also Avigilon dealers. I have seen the samething in other bids for other manufactures so nothing special here. Customer knows what they want which is a good thing.

If someone local cares, they can protest. It will delay the project. I've seen this too and a large company showed up with an attorney at the bid opening ....that's whole section went away and it was rebid open.

As an independent consultant, I'm quite surprised that they were able to permit a sole source bid, especially with is probably public funding. If they had invested existing capital infrastructure in an Aviligon head end control platform, I could understand, but these seem like new stand alone locations. There is nothing that unique with the selected cameras which could not be supported by other camera manufacturers.

It would have been nice and in my opinion, appropriate, to see alternate manufacturers listed. The other concern I would have for the Client, that by just listing product, what happens if a product is discontinued post award....there are not technical specs to reflect what to substitute.

I have seen this happen before, typically when purchasing issues an IFB without the help of a consultant.

Even though I don't care for it, it is not the first time I have seen this. I would assume the Purchasing Agent or Authority has completed their Sole Source Justification documentation, which is required by most purchasing departments, and is a good idea as a matter of practice. It is more typical when the end user is expanding an existing system. As a vendor, I am not surprised; as a taxpayer, as long as there is more than one bidder on the project, I am good with it. Not happy, but I can live with it. It is my experience that if you rock the boat, you will not be very welcome in the future.

If anyone has a copy of the sole source justification, if it exists, please share.

I am curious how they sole source justified 2MP IR domes.

Related: Sole Source Justification Tutorial

Its great when a customer knows what they want, but these picky County employees are taking no chances with the equipment list on this one. By specifying the exact part numbers of all cameras, recorders and software licenses, even calling out numbers on junction boxes and brackets/hardware, they really take the drudgery out of responding to their rfp. Maybe they got some help...

But since Orange County had already insisted on Avigilon for a Public Works project in 2012, maybe they are standardizing County wide? Interestingly, for a maintenence contract of Avigilon equipment on a different Public Works project, there is no Avigilon dealer requirement, though it might be hard to fufill if you weren't one...

There are generally only two ways that a public agency can get away with making a sole source procurement such as this:

  1. The agency has already made a significant investment in Avigilon products at other sites and has therefore established Avigilon as a “county-standard”. Standardizing on only a single manufacturer reduces spare parts, training, and support requirements and the decision to standardize for these reasons will usually withstand bid protests from other manufacturers. Usually. The bigger the previous investment in the “standard” product the more likely the decision to continue to using it can be justified – having an existing two-camera system at a single site probably won’t cut it, while having multiple sites with lots of the same product probably will.
  2. Prior to issuing this RFP, the agency went through a public “Request-for-Information” (RFI) process to help them evaluate products and to preselect one or more equipment manufacturers that best meet the agency’s needs. This process is often done directly between the equipment manufacturers and the agency with little or no involvement from local integrators. Once this process is complete, the agency will pick one or more manufacturer’s products that they want to buy, and then issue an RFP to the integrator community for the actual purchase of the product. This is usually legal because all manufacturers supposedly had the opportunity to have their products considered during the RFI process. Many clients like this two-step process because it allows them to separate their product selection decision from their integrator selection decision, potentially avoiding situations where the product that they want is only being proposed by an integrator that they would prefer not to do business with.

Many clients like this two-step process because it allows them to separate their product selection decision from their integrator selection decision, potentially avoiding situations where the product that they want is only being proposed by an integrator that they would prefer not to do business with.

Although because of Avigilon's near total control of its channel, their products can not be seperated from their dealers. So in such cases is it still a benefit to your clients?

When I write an RFI for a client, one of the evaluation criteria for selecting a product is the number of integrators who represent that product in the local market. I usually advise my clients against specifying products available from only a single integrator in any given market, and especially against specifying products where the manufacturer and installing company are one in the same.

I don't know the specifics on Avigilon, but would guess that they are represented by multiple integrators in the Orange County/Greater Los Angeles area.

...especially against specifying products where the manufacturer and installing company are one in the same.

Although clearly seperate legal entities, Avigilon and its dealer network are aligned to a high degree that from a practical perspective, I suspect they might deserve the same caveat. Would you agree?

I don't know enough about the Avigilon dealer network to comment intellligently on this. So long as there are multiple (~3 to 5) dealers in any given market that represent a product, I am generally happy.

*dons tinfoil hat*

"Hey, can we give this job to our regular guys/my cousin's company/whoever we prefer for nepotistic reasons?"

"Public money, dude, we gotta put out an open RFP."

"Hmm well, the guys we want are the only local Avigilon partner..."

"That's it then, we'll have to specify Avigilon ONLY."

"That's kinda sketch, won't those IPVM guys pick up on that? They're pretty on the ball with that stuff."

"It's okay, we'll just say it's because we're already using Avigilon and want to keep it all compatible."

"Even the junction boxes?"

"Yup."

"Alright, get it rolling!"

*drops mic, removes hat, walks off into the sunset*

I don't think there are any counties in the US where Avigilon only has one partner.

Looks like they already have a contractor in mind and are writing the specification to allow them to choose him. It also appears that they will make available other bids to him as well (1.12 No Information Marked Confidential or Proprietary). I bet if you look at other past jobs for the county (and who installed them) it would indicate the company/person that the customer trusts. I also noticed that they are shedding the Patent Troll liability (H. Patent/Copyright Materials/Proprietary Infringement: In the General Clause area) to have the contractor indemnify them. Of course if the patent trolls went after a company, could the company just close down (LLC type) and walk away and start up again under a new name?

Anyway it looks like, as mentioned in previous discussions on this site, the customers are going to try and make sure that if a legal battle breaks out that they will be on the sidelines. Question is, if the company that is being sued goes away, will the Patent Trolls still go after the end customer?

One of the issues with public work is the ability to do a Freedom of Information Act request from the agency on the awarded bids. It lets you see who wins and what they charge.

If the customer already has a large investment in Avigilon hardware then it makes complete sense. They don't want to risk incompatibility problems now and into the future.

Incompatibility problems?

And as long as you buy their open platform, integraton is easy.

Using Avigilon's cameras with there VMS makes complete sense. Automatic firmware updates and advanced video searching features are some features that are unique to their solution compared to using 3rd party cameras.

You have really stepped up your anti Avigilon propaganda the last couple of weeks. More testing and less TMZ please.

If there are unique technical specifications that the country requires, the county can simply list what they are. Camera must do X, support Y, etc.

This is a public bid and a general discussion. We will continue to have such discussions.

And here is our brand new WDR Mega Shootout 2015.

One concern...I have seen bidders take the attitude that, since the county wrote exact model numbers into the spec, and did not base the criteriea on performance, any issues with getting the system to work to the satisfaction of the owner are the owner's problem, assuming the installation is done properly. I have beeen told by bidders they like this type of resposibility shift towards the end user. If a consultant were to be used, the county would have a better chance of getting a first rate installation.

Then what happens if that model is EOL'd by the time the bid is closed?

I see this all the time on public bids.

It appears the county has standardized on Avigilon ACC and certain model cameras for maintenance purposes. They have every right to standardize on a particular manufacturer as long as they follow the local/state/federal (whichever applies) procurement processes.

It may be sole sourced Avigilon, but as long as they can get 3 or more bids from local Avigilon dealers (they'll probably get more responses than that) then they have met the requirements for a competitive bid process.

However, if there are some specifically tailored requirements for the bidders that steer it toward a particular vendor, then it gets a little shifty in my opinion.

I am curious about the standardizing on camera model approach because the potential abuse of this is high for any manufacturer.

For example, Axis gets in say 50 Q1615s and then they get to sole source the next 500 cameras to all be Q1615s just because the first batch was from then?

I see the value in not having 100 different models / manufacturers but restricting it to a single manufacturer has risks of its own, specifically in blocking a user from getting much lower cost or better models as the state of the industry evolves.

I am not an Avigilon dealer, so I don't have a dog in the hunt. I'm not sure I follow the "potential for abuse" theory unless Avigilon suddenly jacks the price of the camera hardware the county is specifying. In fact, I see it quite the opposite. The county has developed a standard and selected a single end-to-end manufacturer that they can get competitive pricing for software, hardware, and services from many local Avigilon dealers. Compare that to specifying a Siemens system.

Let's face facts, the county's IT and maintenance department staff are probably not CCTV professionals and lack (or don't want) the training to configure and troubleshoot multiple brands of cameras as most integrators do. They are likely not seeking "niche" features of specific camera or VMS manufacturers but want basic video surveillance functions. Although we who follow IPVM are interested or lured by the latest "whiz bang" features, many customers aren't interested in them or don't need them.

A sole-source spec also provides simplicity, if a camera breaks or is damaged or vandalized, they simply want the ability to replace it from stock with the same model. It also provides "one throat to choke" for sales or product related issues and a single point of support for technical issues. With a system as large and complex as Orange County, CA that is probably a key feature. Mixing and piecemealing different manufacturer's equipment complicates servicing and causes "finger pointing" between manufacturers when it comes to technical issues and compatibility. I've lost count on how many times there's an issue between VMS "A" and camera manufacturer "B" where they claim the issue is the other's fault or not all the features are supported.

Avigilon has done a good job of presenting a total "end-to-end" solution of providing both the VMS and camera hardware which leads to specifications like this. It's tough to compete against Avigilon when they take this approach as they are the only ones that do it on such a scale, without relabeling other manufacturer's equipment as their own. Although it pains me to say it, kudos to Avigilon and their sales team on getting this project specified. Perhaps we'll see this approach from Canon/Milestone/Axis in the future to compete with it.

At least Orange County appears to have done some homework and decided to standardize what they want as opposed to throwing out a generic low-bid RFP that leads to a mishmash of no-name DVR's, low-quality cameras and a hacked-up system that we all see far too often. As long as they followed established procurement rules, provided a valid sole source justification, and receive 3 or more competitive bids from local Avigilon dealers, there's really nothing to see here. This is fairly common, not just with video surveillance but with many technical products that municipal and county governments purchase. I have no problems with them "hard spec'ing" a particular manufacturer as long as multiple valid bids can be received.

As I stated before if the RFP has specifications or provision that steer it toward a particular local dealer or vendor, then it becomes fishy. I've seen far too many specs where the city, county or agency have already decided on an integrator and worked with them to tailor the spec to meet that integrator, or worse yet let the integrator write the spec. That smacks of favoritism, nepotism, and collusion.

"A sole-source spec also provides simplicity, if a camera breaks or is damaged or vandalized, they simply want the ability to replace it from stock with the same model. It also provides "one throat to choke" for sales or product related issues and a single point of support for technical issues."

On the other hand, it prevents lower cost models with similar technical specs from being bid.

Yes, there are advantages to having 'one throat to choke' but those advantages can be more than offset by eliminating alternative lower cost cameras.

This does not mean that a thousand different brands should be allowed and mixed / matched. This can be accomplished by allowing 2 or 3 alternatives, that would increase complexity modestly while potentially decreasing cost significantly.

Using 3rd party cameras with ACC can add a significant amount of time/complexity to the install/service part of the project compared using Avigilon cameras with ACC. Auto-discovery, auto-firmware updates, pixel based motion detection, advanced video searching capabilities are some of the advatages. Do we sell other cameras with ACC sure but mostly for small 4 camera systems or specific camera needs where this doesn't become a issue. Most of our large customers have specifically switched to Avigilon ACC/Cameras becuase of service costs and/or intergration issues with their current third party VMS/cameras.

Yes, there are advantages to having 'one throat to choke' but those advantages can be more than offset by eliminating alternative lower cost cameras.

Wouldn't it depend on how big those advantages were to a particular customer?

Three years into a mixed bag system, a city might wish that they had spent $5,000 more and reduced their ongoing training, procurement and support expenses.

It depends what the price difference is. Let's say Camera A costs $500 and Camera B costs $495. Obviously, $5 is not enough savings to justify supporting another brand.

Speaking more concretely, this bid includes an Avigilon 2.0-H3-D1-IR. They could consider a very similar camera from Hikvision (see comparison) that might save them $300 per camera.

[Updated: factoring in Avigilon price cuts, the Hikvision is now ~$200 less than the Avigilon model.]

At that point, is it worth it?

FYI the Avigilon pricing you are using is significantly higher then the MSRP pricing for that Avigilon model.

And I guess that's the point.... Avigilon is not available through distribution. You can't go on the internet and get some idea of pricing. You can generally find a price on product that multiple dealers can purchase through a number of channels.

The justification words that John posted do not qualify for sole source in my opinion. While I agree with their justifications, this is public money. You can't do some things with public money that you can do when you are using private funds. It appears to me that they did not meet the "sole source" justification. The "best" system may not always be gotten when other manufacturers/dealers can provide equivalent product. As someone else suggested, if a big hitter non-Avigilon dealer shows up with a lawyer and I would guess this spec goes away

Another issue with this sole source manufacturer stuff, I would guess the dealer that got this listed has some sort of "listed project" with the manufacturer and is getting better pricing. Again - fantistic if this is private money, but not necessarily competitive for the other dealers of the product.

"Another issue with this sole source manufacturer stuff, I would guess the dealer that got this listed has some sort of "listed project" with the manufacturer and is getting better pricing. Again - fantistic if this is private money, but not necessarily competitive for the other dealers of the product."

Correct me if I am wrong but this is called project pricing see Arecont for one example of a manufacture that does this.

The customer will recive multible bids from different Avigilon partners so they will the best price... no?

"Speaking more concretely, this bid includes an Avigilon 2.0-H3-D1-IR. They could consider a very similar camera from Hikvision (see comparison) that might save them $300 per camera.

At that point, is it worth it?"

Considering the pricing that is used here is well above MSRP the delta "$300 per camera" is way off.

All Avigilon pricing updated reflecting Avigilon price cuts / updated price list.

The delta with the close match Hikvision model is now $200+, not $300. That Hikvision model can now be found online for $50 less than previously but we kept it at the old price estimate to be conservative.

With 30+ of these cameras, and $200 savings per camera, is $6,000 meaningful to the County?

MSRP Price for that Hikvision is $1196 compared to MSRP of the Avigilon cameras is $650.

"With 30+ of these cameras, and $200 savings per camera, is $6,000 meaningful to the County?"

Considering the county is not paying MSRP for either option the $200+ delta is still way off.

Also your Avigilon pricing some cameras is still way off.

Hikvision is one of the most widely available camera lines in the world. Because of that no one buys Hikvision at anywhere close to MSRP.

Avigilon is one of the most tightly restricted camera lines in the world. Because of that many people pay MSRP or close to it.

As for Avigilon pricing, we used a current Avigilon MSRP price list.

"As for Avigilon pricing, we used a current Avigilon MSRP price list."

Apparently not

Except that the Avigilon solution here is truly a "system", there are pros and cons to that...

Avigilon Control Center will automatically discover and recognize the cameras when they are brought online (based on standard networking assumptions, eg: the cameras are not routed to the NVR, they are switched, etc.). When new firmware is released for the cameras it is automatically and transparently updated to the cameras. Managing camera settings in fully integrated into the VMS. Motion-based recording is not only supported, but the Avigilon cameras have finer-grained motion control than other models when used with ACC (resulting in storage savings).

You can't just say 'This Hikvision camera would result in a $6000 savings' across the board without evaluating it relative to the VMS as well.

If the bid were based on a VMS like Genetec and Sony cameras it might be easier to swap out the cameras without losing major functionality in the VMS itself.

If the bid were based on Axis and Milestone you might have similar difficulty in justifying swapping out the Axis cameras for Hikvision.

Of course going with other VMS's you'd also need to factor in ongoing annual maintenance costs as well.

In this case I think the customer would directly realize a monetary loss going with the Hikvision cameras due to decreased operator efficiency and system support costs over time.

I also think that you might be able to specify an alternate system using other VMS and cameras that might have a lower upfront cost, and possibly a higher or lower TCO measured over a 5 year span.

Your comparisons are cherry-picking components and assuming they are 100% swappable without recognizing the overall impact to cost.

"In this case I think the customer would directly realize a monetary loss going with the Hikvision cameras due to decreased operator efficiency and system support costs over time."

Ok, the user can quantify that. How much do save on upgrading firmware? Discovering cameras, etc. Is that more or less than the $6,000?

That is the proper way to do this, not as others have suggested that an Avigilon rep wrote the spec.

Let's be generous and assume there is a $300 to-the-user price delta between the Hikvision and Avigilon cameras.

Let's also assume that installation time/cost is 100% the same.

Also assume a 5 year operation lifespan (most likely will be longer, but I think this is a good conservative estimate).

Additionally the average operator of the system is making $25/hr., which results in a total cost to the city of ~$31.25/hr.

$300 spread over 5 years is $60/year.

Do we think that we will save 2 manhours of annual labor per camera using the Avigilon cameras over the Hikvision cameras? Personally, I do, but I'm curious what others think.

"Do we think that we will save 2 manhours of annual labor using the Avigilon cameras over the Hikvision cameras?"

It's a function of how many hours / times does an operator even need to search for each camera. And then how complex those investigations? And how much better Avigilon cameras are over Hikvision cameras for those investigations?

Put it another way, what you are saying / hoping is that 30 Avigilon cameras will save 60 hours a year of operator time over 30 Hikvision cameras.

How many times per year will there be a firmware update for the Hikvision cameras? 2x?

How long does it take to upgrade the firmware (initiate process, babysit upgrade, etc.) on a Hikvision camera (don't know, honest question). I'd guess at least 15 minutes per camera on average (assuming there is some sort of batch update tool). 2x a year would be 30 minutes of time savings per camera right there. That's 1/4 of your "savings".

A lot of this is getting theoretical, but I think that per-camers savings can get eroded pretty quickly. At what point is the savings insignificant? $50/camera? $10? $100?

I don't see where the Hikvision camera is offering a clear enough total benefit to the customer that it is worth considering as an alternative.

"I'd guess at least 15 minutes per camera on average (assuming there is some sort of batch update tool)."

With a batch update tool, which Hikvision does have (see our firmware upgrade directory), you are estimating the total operator time spent to upgrade 30 cameras to be 7.5 hours (i.e., 30 x 15 minutes per camera)?

Please stop. Or agree to disagree but that's extremely unrealistic.

"It's a function of how many hours / times does an operator even need to search for each camera. And then how complex those investigations? And how much better Avigilon cameras are over Hikvision cameras for those investigations?"

Searching the same incident with Hikvision vs Avigilon cameras could take hours vs seconds. Not to mention Avigilon's VMD is substantially better with less setup and tweeking involved to reduce false or missed events.

Your also not taking into account any firmware issues that will arise which can break previously working features and headache involved.

"Let's also assume that installation time/cost is 100% the same."

Typically we can install and configure Avigilon cameras twice as fast over Hikvision or other 3rd party cameras when connecting to ACC.

"Searching the same incident with Hikvision vs Avigilon cameras could take hours vs seconds."

Which incidents? How common are those incidents to this user / organization? Please provide detail.

You want me to guess what incidents this customer will have in the future? I am more interested in the facts not speculation about what incidents many happen in the future. Can you search video faster with Avigilon cameras then with 3rd party cameras when used with ACC? YES Are Avigilon cameras easier to install and maintance then 3rd party cameras when used with ACC? YES

You made a claim: "Searching the same incident with Hikvision vs Avigilon cameras could take hours vs seconds."

At the very least give a concrete detailed example that supports this. Otherwise, it is just hot air.

Say customer wants to see everytime some enters a room over a 7 day period. With Avigilon cameras this is lighting fast using Pixel Search with Hikvision cameras you have to manually scrub and review video.

Pixel Search works with Hikvision, no?

What firmware you running?

Not working on any of the Hikvisions we have used.

That one is 5.2.0 140721.

I am running same firmware. Pixel search does not work.

If you want I would be more then happy to stop over and go over it with you.

Probably just a bug causing it to inadvertently operate on non-Aviglon originated image data.

I'm sure they will patch it real quick.

Probably just a bug causing it to inadvertently operate on non-Aviglon originated image data.

Sorry but no that is not the case.

I've done the same with Dahua and Axis cameras, using their respective utilities. Not news, H, and certainly not specific to Avigilon. Total operator interface time: about 5 minutes, whether two cameras or a hundred.

And of course if you start mixing and matching camera brands then you also have more camera-specific update and management utilities to keep up with. Or, you have some cameras tightly integrated into the VMS (Axis/Milestone) and others that you have to use an external utility to do any camera management.

I think you would agree that having a unified software interface for managing cameras, NVR/Storage, etc. would be more efficient and easier for the operators?

*rolls eyes* You're using an all-Avigilon system as a baseline. An all-Dahua or all-Axis system doesn't have the "mix and match and multiple utilities" issues any more than an all-Avigilon package. I can manage Dahua cameras, NVRs, DVRs, and whatever other branded devices all from within their PSS or SmartPSS VMS package as well - detect, add, configure, view, search, playback, export, etc., no separate utilities needed.

Next?

John's right, your proselytizing of Avigilon is getting quite tiresome and transparent.

Next you'll be telling us that Avigilon cameras are better than any others because they produce color pictures...

How many times per year will there be a firmware update for the Hikvision cameras? 2x?

How long does it take to upgrade the firmware (initiate process, babysit upgrade, etc.) on a Hikvision camera (don't know, honest question).

How often do you update firmware "just because it's new"? General wisdom is that updates, whether firmware, software, operating system, or otherwise, should only be applied if they address an issue or add needed functionality. Updating "just because" is asking for trouble.

Avigilon Control Center will automatically discover and recognize the cameras when they are brought online (based on standard networking assumptions, eg: the cameras are not routed to the NVR, they are switched, etc.).

*yawn* So will any Dahua NVR, with Dahua cameras and most ONVIF cameras. I expect HIK NVRs and cameras are the same.

Next?

I don't think a Dahua NVR is a flat comparison to ACC or any full-featured VMS.

The Dahua and Hikvision cameras I've used both had static IP's configured, which causes you to go through an iteration of manually updating the config on each camera before you can put them all on the same network.

The Avigilon cameras ship with DHCP as the default, and will then fallback to a zeroconf IP address if there is no DHCP server on the network. That makes total setup time for the networking and discovery practically zero. You can of course assign static IP's to the cameras if you want, and you do that from the same VMS and interface that you manage the rest of the system from, not from a collection of vendor-specific tools.

"I don't think a Dahua NVR is a flat comparison to ACC or any full-featured VMS."

Maybe not, but when you're bringing up features like "will automatically discover and recognize the cameras when they are brought online" as if it's some sort of Avigilon-specific selling point, it's a valid counter.

The Dahua and Hikvision cameras I've used both had static IP's configured ... The Avigilon cameras ship with DHCP as the default...

Again, not a fair comparison. I deal with a US Dahua reseller who's told me they have their cameras set to a fixed IP for them for the purpose of instant access on their test bench. But that's something being done FOR THAT RESELLER, not necessarily a default setting for all cameras from the factory. Interestingly, when plugged into a Dahua NVR with built-in PoE and DHCP, the cameras all pull unique IPs from the NVR with no reconfiguring or manual intervention necessary.

The HIKs I get from another reseller all come defaulted to DHCP. Instead of dismissing these other brands as inferior because YOU'VE had to reconfigure the ones you got, consider that the problem is not with the brand, but perhaps with your supplier.

Looks like they know what they want. Seems no different from when our county or school district puts out an RFP for networking equipment, pcs, skid steers or pickup trucks, all models are ususally specified.

Do I like seeing an RFP with no subsitutes being allowed? No, as long as it is done according to the law then there isn't much that can be done. I have seen plenty of RFPs that we didn't get a shot at because of similar reasons. Myself and another company have even been told that we couldn't participate in a bid because of our race, I still don't understand how that can be done.

Race? Perhaps because it was a minority "set aside" project?

Here is a response from the County on their selection process:

The IFB specified the Avigilon security camera systems, including cameras, network video recorders, enterprise software licenses, pendant mount brackets, and junction boxes based on the department’s needs that considered the following factors:

1- System integration and facility maintenance performed by other County agencies such as Public Works, the agency that oversees County sites and equipment therein.

2- Adaptive video analytics chip option for some of our locations is necessary, and the Avigilon technology is considered adequate to meet Probation’s overall needs.

3- Scalability to cover the future needs of the entire department.

4- Ease of use and maintenance cost.

Although this bid specifies specific brand and models, vendor selection for the project is based on the competitive process. Representatives from 14 firms attended the job walks. County procurement policy allows the use of proprietary specifications with no substitutes, and the Avigilon specifications have been determined to best meet the department’s current and future needs.

1- System integration and facility maintenance performed by other County agencies such as Public Works, the agency that oversees County sites and equipment therein.

So after install, is Avigilon directly supporting the end user and not the winning dealer?

It would appear that the county Public Works department bids these out seperately. Interestingly, that on this RFP at least, there is no authorized Avigilon dealer requirement per se, although one might find it infeasible to perform the work satisfactorily without being one.

Look at it from the end users perspective, they may want to compare providers for their system but want a 'level' ish playing field to compare. If 14 bidders offer 14 different solutions from 14 different manufacturers the variation is cost would be massive, how would an end user start to compare returns?

Seems to me the end user has looked at his requirments, found a product to achieve it and removed the risk of being offered something potentially that will not do or from a lower quality product that may be cannot be supported in the future.

There may also be 20 other systems that the end user is integrating into his CCTV and has researched that for his chosen solution and would not have the time to do that across 14 other options.

In reality, whe a bidder is selected, based on the client specification there is generally a pre-contract meeting at which the installer at the table can bring up other potential solutions or considerations which may improve the end user experience or offer savings etc.

Personally I think it better that the end user can pre-select a solution, otherwise bidders offer and ever sprialling down cheaper solution that maybe meets some of the requiremnts but in the end drives all of us on the lowest common demominator - CHEAP!

An older wiser specifier (now in a better place!) once told me, no one ever thanks you for a cheap solution, you only get praise for the right solution.

"If 14 bidders offer 14 different solutions from 14 different manufacturers the variation is cost would be massive, how would an end user start to compare returns?"

Specify the technical and operational requirements of the products, components or systems that they want, e.g., "camera must be X, support A, B and C features, etc."

This is done all the time.

Would this just provide the same end result?

It might provide the same result, it might not.

Specifying technical and operational requirements focuses the buyer and the respondents on providing the best solution at the best price.

I am not advocating anything innovative here as real specifiers have been taking this approach for many, many years.

Specify the technical and operational requirements of the products, components or systems that they want, e.g., "camera must be X, support A, B and C features, etc."

This is done all the time.

True, but regular readers of IPVM also come to realize that not all similarly spec'd WDR cameras offer the same performance. Not all analytics options provide the same results. Not all low-light cameras provide the same images.

If the end-user is being thorough in their sourcing (which appears to be the case here) then, IMO, they would not in any way want "similar" products that had not been evaluted for performance criteria.

If you move beyond very basic no-frills cameras, and care about performance in non-ideal conditions, it becomes difficult to adequately substitute one camera for another. I do not mean that the Avigilon cameras spec'd here are unrivaled, just that this user appears to have found their specific featureset (and inherrent trade-offs, be it price, size, resolution, aesthetics, availability, etc.) ideal for their specific use-case.

Much of this conversation revolves around the fact that this is a public-bid scenario. If this were an everyday end-user that wanted a specific brand (and really, the brand is irrellevant here) would you expect them to entertain offers for all kinds of alternate systems that they had no knowledge of? If you yourself researched a product and went to a store to buy it, and had someone at the store try to offer you an "equal" alternative you'd likely be annoyed if the product was something any more complex than a flashlight.

I've seen several public-bid scenarios end up in disaster (I think there was an integrator here a few months back that commented on how he often made money by cleaning up such messes that others left behind). It's very difficult to have a true full-equal alternate product, especially if you're talking about the VMS aspect. Should the user here accept simply the lowest bid for any alternate option? Should they look at the lowest bid option and then spend additional time determining if that alternative truly fits all of their needs?

"If the end-user is being thorough in their sourcing (which appears to be the case here)"

Can you fill us in with more details about how the end user has been thorough in their sourcing?

They might have been, but the response they provided does not prove thoroughness.

Thoroughness to me would have been proof and reasons why they already reviewed / tested lower cost cameras, accessories, etc. and why they rejected it.

"Much of this conversation revolves around the fact that this is a public-bid scenario."

Yes, that's because public contracting has higher / stricter requirements for the use of public money.

John,

I think the RFP was written specifically to assure that the customer got what they wanted and already had. Note the call out for an "Upgrade" key for Avigilon Enterprise. Any of us would have been glad to get a hard lockout spec out of a county, no one here should complain about something they want themselves and strive for every day.

Figure that in the Orange County area, there are perhaps hundreds of "Camera Installers" and maybe a couple dozen "System Integrators".

Sure they specified exactly what they wanted to get because any "Tom, Dick or Harry" installer could supply a "Generic Surveillance System" but lets say only 4 could provide an Avigilon system.

Those four companies are enough competition for the RFP (Only need 2-3) and they know how to put it together right.

As opposed to the "trunk slammer" that only sells the lowest price and lowest quality and skimps on everything.

The county probably already has bitter experience with what happens when the lowest price vendor gets the bid.

Did you note that this is for the County Probation Department offices? I know for a fact that those locations are a hotbed of problems and that's why they need a good working system installed by someone AUTHORIZED and COMPETENT. The lowest price does not equal the best system.

One lawsuit in a place like that is enough to pay for several surveillance systems.

You may be correct in saying that they should have shown "justification" in selecting a specific vendor, but it seems to me that kind of criticism borders on sour grapes. The fact there is an upgrade key for the software, tips you off that someone already did their homework; perhaps on a previous project.

I've seen too many systems that were sold only on price. Most times you get what you paid for. Often that means almost nothing and the work reflects the price paid.

Dan, thanks for the thoughtful feedback.

I wanted to clarify on this one point:

"The lowest price does not equal the best system."

When most consultants or specifiers talk about lowest price, they don't mean lowest price for anything (like give me any damn camera, as cheap as you can go). They mean any device / system that meets a series of detailed and often demanding requirements.

You don't want trunkslammer gear? Totally understandable. Then specify requirements like auto back focus, remote focus/zoom, true WDR, 3 year warranty. I am just throwing out some real common ones, as examples.

Since it is for public bidding, I think it is much better to state technical specs that only avigilon can comply rather than mentioning avigilon. But it would take a thorough research on the part of the procuring entity. For example :

*must have remote focus and zoom

*the system must be homogenous solution..etc

And other generic terms that will filter out the other brands. They should look on the a&e specification of the nvr, camera, and vms of the brand they want. They must be creative.

Since it is for public bidding, I think it is much better to state technical specs that only avigilon can comply rather than mentioning avigilon.

Better for whom, not necessarily the public?

It is at least better in the sense that it is more defensible because you can say listen, "We made it open, we simply listed what we need, everybody had a chance, etc., etc."

Indeed, if it is technical specs, there is at least some chance for someone to find an alternative option.

Are you implying that using 3rd party cameras with Avigilon's own VMS that customer would have a "better" system then using Avigilon's cameras with their own VMS?

Again, if there is some specific technical feature that is 'better' that the user values and requires, then they can include that in a technical specification.

If they do not value it, do not require it, and allow responders to provide the lowest cost solution to what the real requirements are.

More defensible certainly, but more reprehensible.

Indeed, going from transparently declaring "This bid is open only to Avigilon partners" and being ready to justify it if necessary, to pretending 'everyone had a chance' and that 'we simply listed what we need', with specs essentially like 'company hq must be in a city that starts with the letter V or X', is soft bid-rigging.

The first option might be unpopular, but the second is unethical.

But imho, mentioning specific brand doesnt allow other bidders to evaluate or study the RFP. On the spot, they already know they are disqualified.

On the other hand stating "generic" terms or spec will make the bidders study the requirements, evaluate the RFP and maybe they can provide a solution that is better or equal to the specification , maybe there are some brands that the procuring entity forgot to evaluate or not known to them.

Note : they dont want better or equal specs they only need avigilon.

Which is more unethical?

Of course if the specs are written based on the requirement, not based on the intended manufacturer's specifics, then that is the best of course.

If Avigilon equipment is mandatory then it may be ethical or not, that would depend on the reasons for excluding others. But since it's a red flag, we know to look at it. Like how this discussion is looking at it right now.

But a requirement that the vendor supply a camera with at a least 29MP sensor that accommodates Canon EF lenses is essentially the same as #2 without the red flag.

"The first option might be unpopular, but the second is unethical."

If they include things they do not need just to reject competitors, agreed. There is a fine line there between included things you want and throwing in lots of optional or irrelevant things just to block a competitor.

Better for the procuring entity so they will not be maliciously accused of like "hey, something fishy is going on". Since this is a public fund they have no choice but to go through a public bidding. If based on their research or studies, only avigilon has the features that can comply to their security needs, it is better to make the rfp generic without mentioning brands, just to avoid issues. As long as they can defend the features or specs that they want.

Some here are being rather hypocritical offering "open" bidding solutions when it's plainly obvious the county specifically wanted one vendor. I think it is more ethical to say what you mean and then mean what you say. They only wanted Avigilon and it sounded like they wanted a continuation of an existing system. It is more dishonest to say you want an open system to comply with a spec when you really want something entirely different. Why waste everyones time when the already made up their minds?

If ANYONE here cry that "It should have been open spec" then how would you feel about that when it happens to the lockout specs you have been working on for 6 months?

Give the Avigilon guy some credit. You weren't there doing the handholding and specwriting when it counted. NOW it's too late to do anything and especially too late to complain.

The days of offering a single solution are over. In many cases you need to be all things to all people.

That's why we prefer the concept of "System Integrator" and we have strived to have people qualified and certified in several vendors products so we can offer a wider range of solutions.

Of course there are product lines we won't get a sniff of, so be it. But there are many more that we can offer and given the quality of our staff; we think we provide a better offering than a one trick pony.

"Give the Avigilon guy some credit. You weren't there doing the handholding and specwriting when it counted. NOW it's too late to do anything and especially too late to complain."

What are you implying is likely against public contracting rules, if the Avigilon guy is writing the spec or handholding the end user.

And a local California bidder could certainly protest this.

John, this has degenerated into why Avigilon is better than everyone else.... And maybe it is - at least in their eyes.

Time to close the discussion.

In most European countries this would be investigated as corruption.