Subscriber Discussion

40-50 Camera City Wide Wireless Surveillance System

I run a small (as in just me) business installing/maintaining CCTV systems for businesses in an Australian town with a population of about 50,000 people. Most of my customers are hotels/clubs/shopping centres and have between 16-64 cameras using hybrid digital/analogue solutions. The main VMS I use at the moment is NUUO.

A RFP for a city wide wireless mesh CCTV solution (around 40-50 cameras) is likely to be announced in the coming months for our main street and I'm considering whether I should put a tender forward. I don't have any experience with city wide CCTV but do have exprience with enterprise wireless networks and wireless point to point links (both using Ubiquiti/Mikrotik).

I realise that I will probably need to team up with a distributor/manufacturer and possibly a larger integrator if I'm going to win the contract. If I don't think I can handle it and do a great job I won't be putting a proposal forward, I can't afford the risk of damaging the rest of my business which is going quite well.

Budget is unknown at this stage, but I'd anticipate that it will be between 400-600K (AUD)

My question is, given this situation, who would you look at partnering with.


Is NUUO suitable for a system of this scale?

I've had a call from the Milestone rep who has suggested we work together, but I'll need to do the training to buy the products.

Who else is worth considering?


I currently use lower cost IP cameras, Dahua, Hikvision etc. I find that for the price they are suitable for my customers and they work well with NUUO. Again I get that these may not be the best option for a city-wide system. I suspect I'll need to quote on a mixture of fixed and PTZ IP cameras. Axis seem to have a good name in this space, I have used their cameras in the past but their pricing doesn't work as well for my usual customers.

Is it worth the extra money to go to the top tier vendors or would Axis be OK?

Network Infrastructure

I have found Ubiquiti and Mikrotik to be reliable and suitable for the enterprise WLANs and point to point links I've created in the past, but have read comments on this forum that they aren't suitable for a city wide surveillance network... what are the main limitations?

Am I better off waiting for models that support the 802.11ac standard?

Should I forget about Ubiquiti and focus on a more suitable vendor?

Finally... should I forget about putting a tender in for a project of this size, I don't really need the work and if it doesn't go smoothly it could cause me more problems that it is worth.

Have any other small integrators attempted a project this size? Are you happy with the results? Is the customer? What mistakes did you make? What would you do differently given another chance?

Thanks in advance,


Dan, thanks for sharing.

To me, the big thing is how the RFP is written. Many city wide systems are rigged / set up to have to use certain products. A lot of these questions may be decided for you simply based on the wording of the RFP (e.g., the VMS specification is copied and pasted from Milestone's documentation, the cameras are hard spec'd for Axis model XYZ).

Wireless over large areas can be very challenging / problematic / painful. How difficult depends on the terrain, spacing of the cameras, obstacles between them, etc.

I think it's safe to say you want to pad significantly more on a bid like this than any point to point or wireline system.

I am sure quite a number of members will have feedback. Thanks again!

Exacq, Milestone, HD Witness, Luxriot and Video Insight are all more efficient and more usable VMS systems then NUUO. IMHO NUUO is very CPU intensive, very fragmented and not the most functional.

We have supplied for 100+ camera deployments of Dahua And Hikvision IP cameras. The firmware is simple and the reliability is high (under 1% failure rate).

Bohan, I think your recommendation is pre-emptive. We do not know enough about this project to so strongly recommend against NUUO.

You seem to be suggesting don't use NUUO at all, rather than NUUO's suitability for this type of project, which is what Dan asked about.

John. I agree with you. Is it possble that we could post the RFP when it comes out for all to see?

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I'll definitely try and get a copy of the RFP once it is available and will post it if I am allowed. Is it normal to have some form of NDA?

In all honesty, I would probably not pursue this if I were you. These are the kinds of projects that can put small companies out of business. Governments are notorious (at least in the US) for being terribly slow payers no huge resource consumers. Anything they don't like will be a reason to delay payment, cause you to 'fix' things that aren't technically broken and so forth. I have first-hand knowledge of multiple large jobs like this where the integrators have gone 2+ years with no, or very minimal, payment because the the customer changes things, causes delays, takes issue with stuff (thinking a D1 PTZ is going to deliver HD quality images) and so forth.

Since you have alot of wireless experience I'm sure that you know the single most important thing is the site surveys and frequency planning. If you can get the wireless network to work properly and efficently then everything else will be rather straight forward. Make sure you budget your bandwidth properly, idealy 130% of available throughput vs. required bandwidth. For wireless citywide solutions we usually include cameras with edge recording capability incase of a network outage just as an extra layer of protection. By the way, 400K-600K sounds like it's on the low side. MSRP on a firetide mesh 7020 with dual radio license, MIMO license antenna assemblies and two patch antennas is over 6K USD before discounts. That's not including your backhaul. If the city offers a budget that will make you cut corners I would just avoid the RFP all together. There's nothing worse then having to troubleshoot a poorly built wireless network with locations all overs town and city officials calling your office at 3:00am at night because half their cameras aren't working.

Good Luck!

Dan, are they making you sign an NDA? I don't know Australian government contracting rules but in the US, typically such documents are a matter of public record. For examples, that's how we get and profile so many RFPs on the site.

Hi John. The RFP isn't out yet, I'm expecting it will be made available in the next couple of months, I'm just trying to get organised for when it is out.

If you really want this project, try hard to influence it now. Chances are some competitor already has the inside track or is working hard to get it - to specify the architecture and products they are most comfortable with or have the best discounts / access to.

Very good points, I guess the budget would work OK for Ubiquiti, the question is whether the equipment is up to the task. I'll need to wait and see what the specifications for number of cameras, locations, resolution, quality and framerate are to determine the required bandwidth and then see what sort of network design could handle it. I've done a site survey (using Ubiquiti Airview at 2.4 & 5GHz), as you'd expect there is a lot going on already at 2.4GHz, 5GHz isn't being used much at the moment though. Although this will change with the adoption of newer 802.11 standards. What profit margin would you expect to build into a job like this? If I put in a tender I'll be quoting against larger firms who probably won't have a local presence. This means they should need to allow more cost for maintenance, but it could also mean they'll just get the job done and never be seen again.

I've tried to get meetings but our coucil are very concerned with proper governance. I was told that if I was given any information or given an opportunity to influence the process in any way it could invalidate any tender I submit. So I guess that is good news (assuming no one else has had the opportunity either)

That does sound promising if they stick to it. However, it does beg the question: who is writing this RFP / designing this system? If it's the city by themselves, they are probably going to screw it up (just not enough experience on something this niche). If they hire a consultant, most likely he will be influenced by outsiders.

Well above you had stated they're looking for a Mesh system which Ubiquiti doesn't provide. Regardless I personally would never consider utilizing Ubiquiti for a citywide surveillance project as I'm sure they're looking for a high availability network. If your going Point to Multipoint I would look at Proxim they have lots of surveillance implementations and their pre-sales support can help you with the network design.