New RFP: 10 Years Out of Date

By Carlton Purvis, Published May 05, 2013, 12:00am EDT

Bad RFPs are an unfortunate fact of life in video surveillance - hurting end users and frustrating quality integrators. A new RFP from Oklahoma is a great example - incredibly out of date and hard specified to a manufacturer in steep decline. In this note, we break down the RFP and explain the issues involved.

Taft Stadium holds some history. The stadium, originally a New Deal project, has gone through numerous renovations over the years, but now the Oklahoma City icon is undergoing a major facelift.

Everything but its stone wall is being gutted and replaced. This time around Taft Stadium is getting a security system too. We’ve obtained the specs of the new system, and although they may look like they came from a time machine, we can assure you they did not.

Storage

One of the first things we noticed in the 9-page RFP is that the district specifies 320GB for 30 days of recording. 320GB for 30 days of storage is very small. They may be able to capture 30 days of video with 320GB, but they are going to have to significantly increase the compression, which lowers the image quality even if they only use motion based recording. Specifying that the project use 320GBs is unnecessary especially when for a little more money they could get multiple TBs of storage. Indeed, the specification is contradictory, as one reference on page 4 says 1TB, but another on page 6 with the detailed line item specification says 320GB. Even 1TB is quite low compared to industry norms (see our poll).

Frame Rate and Compression

A 60 images per second record speed requirement limits recording to 3.75 frames per second per camera average, which is very low for surveillance standards today. The industry average is double what this system is specifying. The spec for MP4 compression is outdated. Most systems now use H.264 because it is more bit rate efficient for the same quality.

Dome Housings

The housing dimensions requested for this project (6 inches round x 3.6 inches deep) are bigger than modern mini domes. There are smaller, more aesthetically pleasing domes readily available. Most users would prefer smaller housings, and there are many affordable options available. Requiring a specific (large) size is counterproductive.

Cameras

The spec calls for CCD cameras, however, newer, better cameras are almost all CMOS. They will not get a better camera by requiring CCDs. Additionally, for the seven cameras being placed across the parking lot, there is no information about how these cameras are going to be powered or networked.

Manufacturer Issues

The RFP specifies only Dedicated Micros DVRs, formerly one of the leading surveillance recorder manufacturers, and now rarely heard from. Last month we reported on the company's financial freefall and a 2011 financial report that showed a 26% drop in annual revenue. 

Outcome?

As is, these specs will unfortunately leave the stadium with a far out of date system and not even save much money compared to a modern offering. Worse, given Dedicated Micro's troubles, they expose themselves to risk for future service and support. We have reached out to Oklahoma City Public schools for more information this RFP. We will update with their response.

UPDATE: 

I spoke to the project manager by phone this afternoon and he says they will consider changing the specifications, but it may be too late.

“The design was done by an architect we assigned to the project,” the manager said. “We gave him the standard that was adopted by the school board and that’s what he followed. That standard was created by a previous project manager so I don’t really know a lot of technical aspects of why we chose those [specifications]. We usually tell them that if there is something better and we can afford it to go ahead and do that instead, but it looks like he didn’t do that here.”

Only $13 million was allotted to renovate both Taft and another stadium so the project is working with a small budget. The project manager says he is open to hearing any suggestions, however it is tool late for him to revise or add an addendum to the RFP because the deadline for the project is today.

“If there is something better out there, we will be willing to go with it  ... We’ll try to do a change order to re-evaluate the work,” he said.  
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