What Questions Should We Ask About City Surveillance?

Similar to our school surveillance guide, we are going to do one on city surveillance. On Monday, we are sending out an integrator survey to gather responses.

What questions should we ask? What would you like to know about city surveillance systems?

I will start with some questions to get this started:

  • What is the mix of camera types? What percentage are fixed vs PTZ cameras? Why?
  • What is the percentage of cameras connected via fiber vs wireless? What drives that?
  • What type of storage is used? DAS? NAS? SAN? Why?
  • How long is video being stored typically? Why?
  • How often are video analytics being used? What types? Why or why not?
  • Who generally pays for the city system?
  • What type of integration (access control, intrusion, police dispatch, etc.) are typical?
  • How is maintenance paid for and handled? How often are their problems in paying or performing service?
  • What is the main objectives / use of the city surveillance system?
  • Who uses the city surveillance system? Are there dedicated staff monitoring cameras? Why or why not?

Ok, what would you add?


Perhaps you could add:

Is the city surveillance system a single system or is it made up of several subsystems? (For example several market association systems, combined with traffic police systems etc. each originally planned by a different design team)

Jayant, good!

What are your specific goals and expectations with this system?

Is funding in place for the system?

Do you have a goal or plan in place in the event of network outages?

Who is responsible permission to mount on property that does not belong to the city?

Who is responsible for providing power on property not owned by the City?

What is the mix of existing Cisco or other non-ONVIF cameras currently in use?

Will your new Surveillance system interface with other existing systems in any way? If so, who is the point of contact for that integration?

Will the installer be able to shut down streets/lanes as necessary to accomplish installation during normal working hours - Who coordinates that?

Thanks, Mark. We can't fit them all in but we will make sure to ask about some of the installation issues you raise.

What are the top agencies that general oversee or drive the project?

Luis, is that another way of asking who the buyer is or who manages the system?

Kind of, yes. Is the project mostly overseen/driven by somehting like law enforcement agencies, city works dept, utilities, etc.

Almost a given that security cameras and a metro wireless system will overlap agency $$ supporting first responders and utility activities. Often left blind and mute in a power outage.

Did the specifications for the job come from a dedidcated, independant security consultant? From a general contractor? Or from internal department research? (Spec's done from internal department research is where they commonly ask for the moon and heavy on the CSI effect.)

What is the project operational mission power provisioning plan?

What is a project operational mission power provisioning plan?

It's pretty simple, but often neglected.

What project equipment are being deployed and how is power being supplied to ensure the operational integrity of the mission?

"Project Operational Mission Power Provisioning Plan" is quite a mouthful, maybe just call it POMPPP. ;)

Sounds like a suitable Govt accronym for a spec to me.

Do they ever record audio? Why/when?

Are they using/considering Shotspotter or equivalent?

A, I have been involved to some degree with Shotspotter. There is a lot of serious doubt about any of those programs. Have you used it and does it work reliably?? It feels awfully CSI to me. Great in a studio or lab, poor in a real world environment. Curious to know your opinion. A police chief asked me my opinion recently and I told them to stay away. Was I wrong?

I haven't had the occasion to use one. But you are not alone in your doubt:

Shotspotter, has anyone had a positive experience? and

like the shotspotter really works

How you setup redundacy and failover? How many cameras per operator and what kind (ptz, fix, etc) Are the videowalls useful lr just show?
License Plate Recognition (LPR)...

- what problems do you hope city surveillance installations solve ? Is it only security, support of police or also e.g. traffic-related (e.g. queue detection, public parking management, pedestrian counting, ...), emergency situation assistance (situational awareness, emergency vehicle guidance, ...), green zone monitoring, suicide prevention, .. . What else ?

- what suppliers are preferred ? Large system integrators - local companies - ...

- is a city-wide network already existing or do you expect the same supplier to install it ? If existing, does it have sufficient capacity to add tens / hundreds of cameras ?

- is there any continuous visualization or would it rather depend on smart detection, or just occasional use in case of emergencies ? (= the last question in your list)

- who has decision power ?

- who is the main user ? Police - traffic management - municipal services - ... And do they work together ?

- How afraid are you of securrity breaches in that city surveillance network and why ?

- How about privacy concerns, regulations and limitations ?

- Do you have any firm plans to install city surveillance in the coming 1 - 3 - 5 - 10 years ?

And for those who reply: what size of city (population) are we talking about and in what country ?

Does the System plans to have an Disaster Management System integrated with it.

How does the Surveillance system help Municipal or Police authorities in case of a Disaster.

Does the System Integrates with the Systems of Critical Infrastructure in the City.

How does the system help in mitigating the Disasters if any.

Capt Ravinder Reddy

Mix of recording manufactures with a PSIM? Or single manufacture VMS solution?

What other government entities will be involved?

  • Clich├ęs of government, left hand not talking to the right; now compound that with an entity that has a dozen hands. Just because the city police have initiated this, doesn't mean all the city entities will be cooperating. Just because the city in general is cooperating doesn't mean city hall, or parks and recreations, or public schools, etc will be cooperating.

Will there be any links or agreements with private businesses contributing to power, network, video feeds, etc?

Hello everyone!

Thank you for the great feedback and question ideas on this one. We have sent our surveys out and are starting to compile the results, so we are closing this topic for now.

We will publish the results next week. I'll update here with a link when we do!

Thanks again.

Following important questions in addition to above:-

- What is the criteria for selecting the integrator? Only cost or quality+cost?

- What about incident handling mechanism or tools? - Generally operators are flodded with alarms but have no idea how to handle them/respond to them!!

- Defined objectives & deliverables from overall systems - most of the projects are either over or under specked (influenced by OEMs) which leads to poor project delivery & RoI.

- Permission from civil authorities etc. etc.