City Mesh Wireless Surveillance RFP Examined

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 26, 2011

In this update, we examine a US city's RFP for a city-wide video surveillance system including a public safety mesh network. The RFP includes a large list of performance specifications, with no specific products being mentioned, leaving the actual system design up to each individual respondant.  The municipality will then potentially create a “short list” which may require one week trials of systems to be installed at no charge.

Review the full video surveillance RFP document.

***'* ***** ******* *** ****’* ******* ****** *** *****:

  • *** ***** ************** ********** ** *** **** **** ******** ***** sites ********* **** *** ******** ************.
  • ********* ** **** ******* ************ ******* *** ********* ********** *** city.  *** ******* *** ******** ** * ***** ***, **** Pelco ****** (* ************ *****) **** *** ******* *** *******. Video ** ********** *** * “***-******** ****** *****”. ***** ******* shall ** ********** **** *** **** ******** *******.
  • *** **** ** ******* *** * ***** ******** ** *** wireless ******* ** ******* ******* ***: “***** ************, ******** ******** Infrastructure (***), ************ **** ** ****** ****** ********, ****** ******* agencies, *** ******, *-**** ******, *** ***** ******** ********* ************.”
  • "** ******** ** ****** *******, , *** ***** ******* **** must ******* ** ***** ** ************ ******* ********* ***** ******* the *******. *** ****** ******* **** **** ******* ** ***** 10 ************ ******* ********* * **** ******* *** *******. ***** cameras *** ** ********* ** *** ***** ****** *** ******* area, ******* **-** **** ***** ****** *****."
  • *** ******* ** ** ** ****** *********, ***** ********, *** resilient: "**** ************. ******** **** **** **.**% ************ ****** *** mesh ******* ******** ****. ***** ******** *** *********. ******** ********* ****-**** protection ** ******** ******, ********* ** *** ******** **** *** the ********** ** *** ***** *******. ************ *********. ****** ********** ******* local ************* ********** *** ********** *** ************." *** "****** ***** redundant ******** **** **% ** *** ******-**** ****** ******* **** can ** ********* ** * *** ** *** ******** ***** mesh ******* **** *** **% ** *** ******** ****** **** service ****"
  • “*** ******* ******* ***** ********* (***) ****** **** ** ******* of ********* * ******* ** *** ***** ******* ******* ****** any ********** ******** ******** ***/** ****** ******** *** *******. *** ********* system ***** ** ******* ** ********* *** ******* ** ** 30 **** ** ***** *** *** *******. *** ****** ***** also *********** * **** ******* ****** *** ******** ***-**** ******* of ***** **** *** ** ** ***** ******.”
  • *.* ***, *.* *** *** *.* *** ********* ****** *** allowed.
  • *********** ** ********* ** * **** (********** ********, *** *** surveillance ********) **** ** *****-***** ****** ***’* *** ***’*.
  • ******** **********: "***-**-*** ********** ******* **** **** ********* ****** *** coverage ****; ************ ** ******** *** *** *************; ** *** reliability ****; ********** ** **** *** ******* ****-**** **********"

*** *** ** ***** *******, *** ********* ****-******* *** *****.  As ** *****, “*** ******* *** ****** ** **** ************ is ** ********* ********(*) **** ********* ********** *** *********** ******** or *********, ***** ******** ********* *** ************ ** *****, ****** into ************* *** ********** ******* *** ***** ** **** ***.”  Overall, *** ****’* ****** ** ****, *** **** ************ *** be ********* ** ****.

*** ************:

  • Well *******, **** ***: Unlike most RFPs we see, this document avoids the common problems of hard spec'ing, secretly requiring a specific product or asking for conflicting requirements. While the requirements are challenging, this is likely to be a fair bid.
  • Expensive ******* ******: With the extremely high reliability, redundancy and coverage requirements, this is going to be a very expensive, complex system to design and deploy. In wireless equipment cost alone, we would anticipate a few hundred thousand dollars cost assuming approximately $2,000 per mesh wireless node. In addition, the planning and on-site optimization will need to be extensive to overcome vegetation, buildings and other obstacles.
  • Good ********** *******: The city's plan to do a variety of tests over multiple weeks will put healthy pressure on vendors to ensure that the network is robust. While availability specifications are sometimes hard to prove up front (e.g., 99.99%), the validation / commissioning tests should help prove that the system is robust.
  • Multiple ************: The RFP states that the mesh network and associated backhaul to be built out as part of this project will be used not only for video surveillance, but for Advanced Metering Infrastructure and other services required by public agencies.  This is a good move on the City’s part, and extends the network’s usefulness, and provides them better return on investment.  We would guess that more grant funding would be available for networks serving multiple purposes, as well.
  • Old *********: The city would like to reuse whatever possible from their existing 28 camera locations. The current cameras, assuming they provide usable image quality, should be reusable via encoders. The existing encoder, the Pelco NET350, is discontinued, and not supported by all VMS’s. Integrators supplying Milestone, for example, would be at an advantage, since this encoder is supported by XProtect, and could be reused.
  • VMS ******/*******: Given the scalable nature of IP video, we question why the system should be licensed for a minimum of 100 cameras from the start.  By our count, there will be 38 cameras recorded during this phase (28 existing plus ten additional).  This seems an added up-front expense that is not required if they are not deploying 100 cameras immediately.  Additionally, storage costs could be drastically lowered by providing only the storage needed for the initial deployment.  Occasionally, however, front-loading costs in the initial phase is done simply because the money is available now, and given the volatile nature of funding for projects such as this, this may be a smart decision, if it is the case.
  • Bandwidth ********: The RFP states that the network should support a minimum of 1Mbps bandwidth per each camera.  It further goes on to state that cameras will be streaming MPEG-4 or H.264, 640x480 resolution, typically 8 IPS, with 30 IPS “burst speeds” required.  An 8 IPS MPEG-4 stream, by our calculations, may take 1Mbps or more, with 30 IPS streams coming in over 2Mbps.  This will lead to one of two problems: First, the link will simply not support the bandwidth required and frames will be dropped, or second, the integrator chosen will reduce the quality of camera streams to fit within the given parameters.
  • Imaging ***** ********: The RFP states: “For street and land cameras, Image quality should be high enough to be able to identify cars and personnel at distances up to 1,000 feet. For bridge and waterway cameras: Image quality should be high enough for monitoring the waterways both upstream and downstream for a minimum distance of at least .5 miles and a potential maximum distance of up to 2 miles.” As we found in our ****** "*** *** *** * *** ***?", ***** ** *** ******* ** ********* ******** ** ** greater **** ** ******** **.  ** ***** **** ************** *** unlikely ****** ***** ***’, *** ** **** * ****, **** monitoring-quality ***** ***** ** ********, ****** ** *** **** * subject ** *******.  ** ***** ** **** **** ** ******* these ******* *********, ***/**** *********** ******* ***** ** ******** (**** as ****** ******).  ***** ***** *** *********** ********** **** *** **** ****** movement *****.  *************, *** **** *** ** ********* **** ********* people *** **** ****** **** *********** ********** ****** (*.*., **'* a **** *** ****** **** *** ******* *** ***** ****, a ********, * **** ** *** **** *****, ***.).
  • Integration ** ***** ***** *******: The RFP provides a long list of integrations they would like, to be accomplished via software only.  The list includes GE, Exacq, Pelco, and Honeywell.  We know of no product currently supporting all of these recorders.  The most probable choice for this integration is a PSIM product, which would drive the cost of the project through the roof.  Additionally, while maintaining existing hardware is often seen as the least cost path to integration, it brings additional complications in the form of ongoing support and maintenance.  Attaching existing analog cameras to a new encoder is often a lower-cost method.
  • Backup ***** ************: No requirement is given for backup power of cameras or mesh equipment.  In the list of possible mesh node locations, it does list whether the location has existing UPS (presumably for traffic signal equipment).  Not all locations have this capability currently, and the lack of a requirement for backup power will leaves future equipment to be installed as part of this RFP susceptible to power failure. However, given the 99.99% general requirement, responders will essentially have to provide backup power to have any chance of delivering such high availability.
  • Vendor *********: The city has laid out a good framework for selection of vendors, including a possible one-week pilot program at no cost to them, from each of the “shortlisted” vendors.  This allows the city to get a better idea of what they will realistically see and how it will perform. Integrators may be wary of this practice, however, as it exposes certain intellectual property, and obviously requires a fair amount of labor on their part.
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