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The Greenhouse is an 82-unit senior housing complex in Chelsea, Mass. that features 16 security cameras and facial recognition access control for the front door.
October 25, 2012 | by CI Staff

Similar to a driver getting “highway hypnosis” on long, endless roads there is a common occurrence in the remote CCTV surveillance world. Central station monitoring agents stare endlessly at static images of hallways, parking lots and empty buildings in an attempt to witness and stop illicit activity in real time. Often, they are looking at multiple monitors, each with one to 16 images. Needless to say, criminal activity is often missed, no matter how good the guard is at his job.

Moreover, video surveillance has been somewhat plagued by the slowness of obtaining video image evidence from an on-site DVR . When an unseen crime is later discovered, the video evidence can only be obtained by examining recorded images from the DVR during the timeframe in which the crime was thought to have occurred. That can take hours. Imagine if that happens while a family is on vacation for two weeks. That’s a lot of video to pore over, even if it is time-lapse.

These are just two reasons adoption of remote video monitoring has been slow, not to mention equipment and installation costs.

Enter the future of remote video surveillance where locations are equipped with cameras with video analytics to activate recording only when motion occurs, where IP-networked wireless (vs. hardwired) cameras can be quickly installed and communicate via Wi-Fi, and where no on-site DVR is installed but instead all recording is done via the cloud. But it’s not the future, it’s today.

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Using this new technology, a Boston-area elderly housing complex has been able to eliminate guards, save on installation costs, offer real-time protection using loudspeakers to scare off potential bad guys, and have access to review recorded images for evidence and analysis much faster.

Seniors Get $40K Peace Of Mind

The Greenhouse is an 82-unit senior housing complex in Chelsea, Mass. Dave Dearborn and Tina Simolaris of DCRM in Princeton, Mass., recently added six cameras (for a total of 16) there, along with a stand-alone facial recognition access control system for the front door. The access control and four of the new cameras, which were installed in late 2011, are monitored via the cloud through a CheckVideo system, and that was enough to eliminate the on-site guard.

Photos: CCTV Security Moves into Cloud

The total installation was about $40,000, including the facial recognition access control and a 16-camera surveillance system (estimated at $20,000 alone with a DVR , according to Dearborn, who used most of the pre-existing analog cameras on-site due to budget concerns). He says that if he were to do this installation from scratch, he would use IP-based wireless cameras and eliminate the on-site DVR .

“Just housing the images in the cloud for four of the 16 cameras (along with the facial recognition front-door system) is enough to eliminate the guard position,” he says.

The access control system and the CheckVideo system are not tied together, other than the central station is viewing images from both systems. The analog cameras include three exterior PTZ units and two exterior fixed.

“Previously, the central station answered the tip lines and dispatched remote guards proactively, but we couldn’t be as timely as we wanted to be reactively. CheckVideo changes the game for us on that count. We tried video motion detection with DVR s but it wasn’t reliable. Now we can block out the recordings by time of day and day of week to view the video,” he adds.

The ROI for the landlord is clear. He is saving money operationally by not having or augmenting an on-site guard, has lower insurance costs, fewer rental vacancies and safer tenants in general.

“I don’t have hard numbers on the number of captures or incidents from the system, but we are involved on a daily basis with incidents. But I can tell you that it’s a lot less than it used to be,” says Dearborn.

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Beyond Crestron and AMX, ‘Alternative’ Control Systems

AVNation discusses control systems and solutions in the monthly podcast, A State of Control. This month's episode dives into unchartered waters of the control and automation market.

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