Bad RFP Leads to Homebrew System

By: Ben Wood, Published on Oct 29, 2013

Bad RFPs continue to plague the industry. In the case of one city, a poorly written RFP led to a contract that likely fails to address one of the main problems they were hoping to avoid. In this note, we review the RFP and what this Illinois city plans to do. 

Here are the basic requirements from the three-page train station RFP:

To their credit, it does contain a few picture that show roughly where the cameras should be / look at, like so:

But that is pretty much it. No other major technical details or requirements.

The System

What they got was an "IVACS", a customizable SQL Server-based DVR system by Closed Circuit Innovations

What is CCI's IVACS?

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

The integrator, CCI, says it builds all of its equipment, including cameras to suit the specific needs of individual projects, but declined giving technical specifications of the equipment to "keep it from being revealed to competitors that could bid against it." 

The cameras were custom built for the job from CCI says they also build mobile computers for police and military.  However, the camera specifications are fairly generic - IR, auto-iris, varifocal, outdoor rated - without any listing of advanced capabilities - e.g., WDR, smart IR, etc.

Main Concern - Sunrise/Sunset

La Grange police chief Michael Holub says a main concern is exterior cameras that will be facing east and west as well as the cameras placed parallel to the tracks. During sunrise/sunset, they will be blasted with sunlight. This goes especially for the cameras on along the tracks where no trees or buildings block the sunlight.  

The police chief said that this is something he discussed with the companies who submitted proposals, but it was not included in the RFP.   

CCI declined to say whether the cameras they built use WDR, but did say the cameras would be mounted as to reduce exposure to direct sunlight at sunrise and sunset. "If there's going to be sunshine on the cameras, you don't aim them toward the sky. Some installers face them up toward the sky, and that's not what you don't want to do. You mount it below the treeline. I've been in this business since 1988," said Steve Coan, the owner of the company. 

CCI says the cameras will have sun visors too. 


Holub said he wrote the RFP himself, which is why it is light on technical specifications. He says his needs were pretty basic. 

"I needed some interior views and some exterior views in two high-profile commuter stations with platforms on either side of the track. I wanted inbound and outbound ways to be monitored. There were no camera specs. There was not a lot of specificity or a lot of technical things. To be honest, I wouldn't know what to ask for. I'm a non-techie person," he said. "I told people the scope of the project I wanted. I took pictures and said 'These are the images I'm trying to capture' and I think that's what is important. You telling me the name of the system is the first time I've heard it." 

On the other hand, given that the Chief described the objective verbally, but not in writing, this is not a technical issue but a procedural flaw, i.e., if the sunrise / sunset issue was cited in the RFP, the city could at least have demanded performance enhancements / optimizations.

No Bidding Process 

The losing proposals were unavailable, however this bidding summary was: 

Public contracting documents say the integrator, Closed Circuit Innovations, got the contract because it was the only one that met the city's budget requirements and specifications. CCI has done similar installs at stations [link no longer available] in Illinois before and was the sole surveillance provider for another Illinois city for more than seven years.

The lowest price came from, Forest Security was not chosen because of "lack of clarity on how the images would be sent to our dispatch center" and "no reference to relocating or moving the cameras due to concurrent renovations," the chief said. Additionally, the city already has a mesh network built by CCI, according to city council documents. 

What to Do

End users have to put their needs in writing. Verbal suggestions are not enough and routinely lead to disappointing results. Defeating sunrise / sunset glare is hard to do but it is nearly impossible if it simply omitted from the RFP and the winning bidder provides generic OEMed cameras that unfortunately do fulfill the vague requirements inside but not the real needs of the user.

Comments (5) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Dahua Co-Founder Says Human Rights Sanctions Shows Strong Dahua Technology on Oct 29, 2019
Despite Dahua doing nearly a billion dollars of projects in Xinjiang, including building and operating police stations, Dahua not only denies 'any...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
Critiquing Carnegie's AI Surveillance Paper on Sep 25, 2019
The Carnegie Endowment has issued an ambitious paper on the Global Expansion of AI Surveillance. While its aim is applaudable, the paper has...
UK Facewatch GDPR Compliance Questioned on Aug 27, 2019
Even as the GDPR strictly regulates biometrics, a UK company called Facewatch is selling anti-shoplifter facial recognition systems to hundreds of...
Suprema Biometric Mass Leak Examined on Aug 19, 2019
While Suprema is rarely discussed even within the physical security market, the South Korean biometrics manufacturer made global news this past...
Biometrics Usage Statistics 2019 on Aug 13, 2019
Biometrics are commonly used in phones, but how frequently are they used for access? 150+ integrators told us how often they use biometrics,...
Embattled $400 Million China Funded Philippines Surveillance System Proceeds on Jun 13, 2019
An embattled 12,000 camera surveillance system project that will cost ~$400 million will proceed. The project contract was awarded, had its...
China Jaywalking Facial Recognition Guide on May 27, 2019
News reports touting the PRC's AI prowess often showcase facial recognition cameras being used to automatically catch and fine jaywalkers. In...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...

Most Recent Industry Reports

ADT Stock Surges - "Leading The Commercial Space" on Nov 15, 2019
Don't call it comeback... but maybe call it a commercial provider. ADT, whose stock dropped by as much as 2/3rds since IPOing in 2018, has now...
Gatekeeper Security Company Profile - Detecting Faces Inside Vehicles on Nov 14, 2019
Border security is a common discussion in mainstream US news and politics, as is the use of banned Chinese equipment by US Government agencies....
Hikvision CEO And Vice-Chair Under PRC Government Investigation on Nov 14, 2019
In a surprising and globally covered move, Hikvision CEO Hu Yangzhong and Vice-Chairman Gong Hongjia are being investigated by China's securities...
Camera Field of View (FoV) Guide on Nov 13, 2019
Field of View (FoV) and Angle of View (AoV), are deceptively complex. At their most basic, they simply describe what the camera can "see" and seem...
UK Big Brother Watch: Hikvision Is 'Morally Bankrupt' on Nov 13, 2019
UK civil liberties advocate Big Brother Watch has condemned Hikvision as being 'morally bankrupt' following IPVM exposing Hikvision marketing...
Color Low Light Mega Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Speco, Sony, Vivotek on Nov 12, 2019
This is the biggest color low light shootout ever, testing 20+ super low light models from 10 manufacturers: Increasingly, each manufacturer...
Wireless / WiFi Access Lock Guide on Nov 12, 2019
For some access openings, running wires can add thousands in cost, and wireless alternatives that avoid it becomes appealing. But using wireless...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Hikvision Markets Uyghur Ethnicity Analytics, Now Covers Up on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has marketed an AI camera that automatically identifies Uyghurs, on its China website, only covering it up days ago after IPVM questioned...
Open vs End-to-End Systems: Integrator Statistics 2019 on Nov 11, 2019
Preference for open systems is on the decline, according to new IPVM statistics. We asked integrators: For video surveillance systems, do you...