Major US City Satisfied With 20% Continuously Broken CamerasBy: IPVM Team, Published on Jul 20, 2016
Is 20% continuously broken cameras reasonable?
Yes, it is, according to one major US city.
In this note, we examine the city, the challenges involved, and what is reasonable for broken cameras.
A Dallas, TX city wide video surveillance system has received scrutiny [link no longer available] following the brutal murder of 5 police officers. There have been problems getting video from the city's system (both in terms of quality images and sheer availability of any recordings).
Dallas was straightforward about what was working and what was not:
80 percent of the 400 or so cameras scattered throughout the city -- cameras on which the city has spent millions in recent years -- are functioning properly.
With the chairman of Downtown Dallas, a group who contributed to paying for the system declaring:
Because of technology and manpower, you're never going to have 100 percent up at all times. Eighty percent is reasonable.
Old Milestone Mixed With OnSSI
An image from the control center shows that they use a mix of many years old Milestone and OnSSI:
For a major city to use such an old version, it is a signal that they either lack the money or organization to keep things up-to-date.
[Update: as a member mentions, this may be old OnSSI OEMed from Milestone, next to newer OnSSI, equally if not more dysfunctional.]
One other factor that likely contributes is Firetide mesh wireless. Back in Firetide's / mesh wireless 'glory days', this was considered innovation. But various reports of Firetide reliability problems in Dallas and Firetide's future slide into irrelevance changed that.
20% Not Working - Not Surprising But Not Acceptable
While we do not know all the specifics to comment on Dallas particularly, there are some factors that make this situation not surprising:
- Overly ambitious system - especially using mesh wireless, which has caused reliability issues in many cities
- Dated system - while Dallas was cutting edge 5 - 10 years ago when deployed, it is far from what systems can do today
- Lack of upgrades - especially with city systems, money needs to be spent to keep the system upgraded and maintained or high failure rates are inevitable
One key underlying theme is that many cities get money to build a system (and in the past decade often from government grants) but then struggle to find the money to maintain, upgrade and refresh to keep it functional.