City Housing Authority RFP Examined

Author: John Honovich, Published on Nov 07, 2010

In this note, we examine a current video surveillance RFP for a housing authority covering more than a dozen sites. The RFP is specified in extreme details and, in may cases, too detailed or contradictory. For background, review the 154 page Housing Authority video surveillance RFP document.

Key attributes of the system include:

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  • ** **** ****, * ******** *** * ***** ******* (**"+) will ** ********. ***** **** ** ******** ******* *** **** available **** *** ******* *********'* **** **** *** *********** (** the **** ******).
  • ******* **** **** ******* ********** ************ ******* **** ** ****** per **** (***) *** ********* ** ********* *** ******* **** to ** *** *** '****** **************' ** ***** ******
  • *** *** ****** **** **** ***** ** ***** ** ********* detailed ************** *** ******** *************** ********* ******** *** ***** *******, methods ** ********** **********, ***** ******, *******, ***.
  • ****** ********* ************** *** ***** ******** (*** **** ** ***** ****): **** ** *** **********, ***/***** *******, ******* ************: .** lux, *.***, **** **** *****, **** *********, ***** ****** *** outputs, ***. *** ***** ******* *** ** ** ****** ***** domes. ************, ****** **** ********* *** ****** ** ** ******.
  • ********** *.*, *.* ** * *** ******** ***** **** ** resistant ** ************ **** **** / ******* ******.
  • ** *** **** ******, *** ********* ***** (*) **" ******** in * * * * ****** *** ********** *****. *** monitoring ******* ** *** ******* **/*.
  • ** ***** ********* *** *********.

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  • Milestone ********** **** *** **** *******: From the various low level specs included (Master/Slave setup, Digifort and Verint camera support, iPix compatibility, 'speedup' settings, etc.), this is almost certainly requires bidding Milestone Enterprise. This restricts competition by artificially introducing unnecessary requirements (e.g., does the system have to do enterprise management by the antiquated master/slave approach? are iPix settings really needed? etc.) We think the customer would be better served by issuing general performance specifications and let bidders offer multiple VMS choices. This is also a confusing and wasteful approach as 30 pages of specifications could have been replaced with a few lines to show their true intent (though this is a frequent tactic). Secondly, if the client really want Milestone, we think Milestone Corporate would be a significantly better choice than Enterprise. Corporate has superior enterprise management, alarm handling, video distribution, etc.
  • On-site *********: Recording the video at each site is not surprising. Even with a 10Mb/s WAN connection, insufficient bandwidth is available for moving numerous dozens of camera per site to a central location.
  • Pixel *** **** **************: We think specifying pixels per foot is helpful but a minimum horizontal Field of View (Fov) in feet should also be specified (e.g., 40 ppf at a 20 foot wide FoV). Without specifying the horizontal FoV width, bidders can not be sure what resolution camera to choose. For instance, if one bidder estimates the FoV to be 20 feet and another 30 feet, insufficient resolution will be provided for the narrower estimate. This is especially hard as, by definition, any camera can provide 60 (or 120) ppf if you accept a narrower enough FoV. Readers repeatedly expressed confusion on this point in *** *** *****.
  • Vandal *****: The choice of camera housings are not surprising. Indeed, the number of IP vandal domes has grown significantly over the last 2 years as domes begin to outnumber box cameras. For example, **** *** ****** ***** *** ******** *** ****** ******.
  • Minimum ************: A minimum illumination  of 0.18 lux is essentially meaningless as camera manufacturers have no standardized, comparable way of comparing low light performance. Setting a number only invites and rewards those manufacturers who fabricate or rig unrealistic numbers. It may sound crazy but given who manufacturers set their min illumination rating, the Authority would likely be better off just specifying a mechanical cut filter and leaving out minimum illumination altogether.
  • Auto **** *****: The specification requires auto back focus but that one requirement limits options from about ** ******* *** **** *** ***** ************** **** **** ** *** **** ******* **** **** *****. While **** **** ***** ** ********, ** **** *** ***** $100 ******* **** **** *** ****** *******.
  • IR ************: The spec is vague on requiring IR illuminators: "Bidder to determine if IR is required to supplement existing lighting." The problem is that determining when IR is needed is subjective and also dependent on other settings used. Quality of image degrades gradually with less light so disagreement can arise as to when video becomes unusable. Also, a savvy or manipulative bidder can set ****** ******** ***** '*********' **** ******* *** ******* ** ****** ****. ************* ***** ** ******** by ******* *** ******* ******** **** *******.
  • No ***** *********: Given that these are large housing areas with on-site guards at some sites, real time alerting from video analytics would almost certainly be useful. Furthermore, given the amount spent on this project, it is likely they can afford the minimal extra cost. On the other hand, given the lack of confidence the community has in analytics, this is not surprising. When analytics truly goes mainstream, every project like this should include analytics (much like they are now including megapixel).
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