School District RFP Examined

By: John Honovich, Published on Nov 07, 2010

In this note, we examine a County's RFP for school district video surveillance. This specification requests both access control and video surveillance software. It's not much of a specification, though, as the requirements are extremely vague. For background, review the School District RFP document [link no longer available].

Here is the County's current conditions / needs:

  • The primary installation is for card readers for the access control system.
  • The RFP states the school already has Pelco IP110 cameras installed. These are the 'pre-Sarix' 4CIF, MPEG-4 IP cameras.
  • The school already has a network and a SAN (Storage Area Network) so the supplier need not provide connectivity nor storage.
  • The RFP is silent on any specifics of the VMS software. We suspect they want the access and video integrated but this is not explicitly required.
  • The RFP is for multiple school districts covering 7 different building configurations. The RFP allows each school district to select independently.

Our observations:

  • The lack of detail is problematic. While we expect that many questions will be answered during the 'verbal interpretations' period where vendors ask questions, this is a poor way to communicate requirements as it can be confusing for respondents and may provide incomplete or contradictory specifications.
  • The only requirement for the VMS is that it supports the Pelco IP110. That, in itself, actually will be limiting as only a dozen 3rd party VMSes support this older camera line.
  • We anticipate the school will want their access integrated with the VMS. This will limit choices even further.
  • If the County wants interoperability amongst the schools without buying a PSIM or command and control system, they will almost certainly have to choose the same VMS/access control systems (even if they purchase independently).
  • Using the school's own SAN could be useful though we wonder how large the school's SAN is and how much they might need to expand it to accommodate the surveillance system. The specification is also unclear whether there are SANs physically located inside of each school (which would be needed to eliminate sending video offsite and over the WAN).
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