Just The Facts:
Customer: Walnut Creek, California, business park owned by California Capital Investment Group
Challenge: Securing buildings in the business park after theft and break-ins became an ongoing problem.
Solution: Developing a wireless video surveillance solution with LPR and video analytics capabilities and an access control system.
Results: Substantial reductions in crime and loitering in the office park.
Walnut Creek is a hip East Bay suburb known as a desirable place to live, work and play. Yet, in recent years, the San Francisco crime wave has spread to the peaceful suburb that 70,000 people call home.
A sprawling Walnut Creek business park, boasting an array of 20 to 30 buildings, was among the areas affected by this crime surge. Thieves began infiltrating the buildings with unsettling ease. They sauntered past receptionists and office workers, hunting for unlocked offices to pilfer. Soon, purses, wallets, and other belongings were being plucked from unguarded desks. Even the parking lots were not spared, as criminals stole things out of parked vehicles.
The root of the problem lay in the park’s security measures. Surveillance cameras were conspicuously absent, and access control systems were non-existent. However, that shifted when Safe and Sound Security moved into a vacant office suite.
This commercial security company, specializing in security camera installation, access control systems, alarms, and structured cabling, wasted no time transforming the security landscape for their suite. They secured their business with security cameras and access control systems, installed a video camera with license plate recognition (LPR) in the parking lot, and set up security demos within the suite.
A theft occurred in a neighboring office suite shortly after the company moved in. Recognizing Safe and Sound Security’s expertise, the property manager asked if their cameras had recorded the theft. The perpetrator’s face was captured by Safe and Sound Security’s advanced facial recognition cameras, and the image was promptly shared with local law enforcement. Unfortunately, the LPR camera in the parking lot has not captured the license plates on the suspect’s vehicle. Still, the footage was a valuable asset for the police investigation.
After this event, California Capital Investment Group enlisted Safe and Sound Security to shore up their own defenses. The company’s engineers devised a comprehensive security system, featuring:
- A state-of-the-art parking lot video surveillance system with LPR,
- Strategic camera placements and entrances and around the buildings, and
- A comprehensive access control system guarding all entry points.
This innovative system operates wirelessly and harnesses the power of high-tech surveillance cameras and advanced video analytics.
Phase One secured half of the buildings in the park over approximately eight weeks; with four weeks dedicated to implementing access control components and four weeks allocated to installing surveillance cameras. Phase Two secured the rest of the buildings and parking lots.
The results so far are nothing short of remarkable, reports Zachary Palmquist, the project manager at Safe and Sound Security. He says the new security system has rapidly diminished the prevalence of crime within the once-vulnerable business park.
Our Approach: One View From Anywhere
Securing a sprawling site, such as a business park comprising multiple buildings and parking lots, poses a myriad of challenges, according to Palmquist. He explains each building operates independently, without connecting to other buildings.
At these sites, each building is typically equipped with a separate digital video recorder (DVR). The management team then must log into each system separately to gain access to each building’s camera feeds.
However, the property manager in this case sought centralized access to all campus security systems. “Our goal was to enable seamless monitoring of all surveillance cameras right from the leasing office,” Palmquist explains.
Fortunately, Safe and Sound Security had experience using cutting-edge cloud architecture for security systems and was able to implement a Cloud Managed Video Recorder (CMVR) that seamlessly linked the site’s 44 surveillance cameras to the cloud.
This innovative system securely stores and efficiently manages video footage from the site’s surveillance cameras in the cloud, eliminating the need for traditional on-site storage solutions like DVRs or network video recorders (NVRs), Palmquist explains.
The benefits of this innovative approach include:
- Scalability and Flexibility: Storage can scale up or down as storage capacity needs change.
- Remote Accessibility: Users can conveniently access video footage from any location with an Internet connection for real-time monitoring and management.
- Future-Ready Scalability: It is easy to add cameras and integrate new buildings into the security system.
- Enhanced Data Security: Built-in data redundancy and robust security measures, protect video footage from loss or unauthorized access.
- Simplified Maintenance: Over the air software updates and system management help reduce operational overhead.
- Advanced Analytics and Insights: Sophisticated analytics capabilities, such as object recognition and motion detection, help harness valuable insights from video data.
“Now they can have one person looking at all cameras at all times,” Palmquist says. “They can queue up the cameras they want to see and see every view throughout the facility. And they can do all this through their cellphones using a mobile application. They can play back footage from wherever they are in the world as long as they have an active Web browser.”
Access Control Updated
Safe and Sound Security accomplished the same feat for the site’s access control system, which was a major component of securing the business park’s facilities. The property manager was having issues with their existing access control. “The property manager did not want to go into each building and manage all their card readers independently,” Palmquist explains.
Safe and Sound Security took over each building’s existing cabling, lock hardware, and other infrastructure to incorporate a “one pane of glass” solution for access control and cameras. “We installed a cloud-based access control system called Brivo that enables them to see all access control panels in each building,” Palmquist adds.
This system works much like the cloud system for surveillance cameras. Users can log in with a Web browser to access control systems on all secured doors. “They have all 25 doors in their buildings at their fingertips through one interface,” he says. “They can manage a schedule for each door, opening the main entry doors during business hours and locking them automatically at the end of the business day.”
The system also simplifies giving employees access to the buildings. The property manager puts each employee into the system, then assigns them credentials along with a key fob or access card. “Employees can even be authorized to present a mobile pass on their cellphones to readers,” Palmquist adds.
The access control panels capture every credentialed entry and exit. There are also security cameras strategically pointed at each entrance. “This provides visual documentation of anyone who enters the facility,” he says.
Parking Lot Security
According to Department of Justice crime statistics, one-third of all crimes in the United States happen in parking lots, resulting in up to 1,400 incidents daily.
Several factors contribute to this reality. Notably, most parking lots are not purposefully designed with crime prevention in mind. Their primary function revolves around accommodating as many vehicles as possible. As a result, these areas often have poor lines of sight, dimly lit sections, and limited camera surveillance enabling offenders to commit minor offenses, such as vehicle vandalism and theft, up to severe and violent transgressions.
The business park was experiencing similar concerns in its parking lots. Catalytic converter thefts had spiked. Thieves were stealing the vehicle component that uses metals with high street values in its design from vehicles in the parking lots.
A system of surveillance cameras with LPR and advanced analytics reduced these concerns at California Capital Investment Group’s business park. Property managers can use the system’s advanced features to isolate when a theft or problem occurred, who committed the offense, and the vehicle they drove, according to Palmquist.
He shares what’s possible through a situation where someone illegally dumped garbage in the parking lot. “They don’t have to sift through hours and hours of footage to find that event. They just find the camera and start an event search,” he says. “They can ask the camera to show every event with a person in the view during a specific timeframe.”
If someone steals a package in front of an office, they also can use the system to pinpoint that event. Here, end-users would simply draw a box around a specific area in the software and ask the system to show all movement there.
The system’s thumbnail feature also allows the property manager to pick a date and see still images during set hours. If they are looking for when a specific car entered the parking lot, for example, they can continually refine the time frame until they pinpoint when the car arrived.
“These capabilities limit the time an end-user has to sit on the system trying to find a specific event,” he says.
The need for cloud-based architecture was quickly identified. What took a little longer was determining the specific cloud-based system to use, according to Palmquist.
He explains that Safe and Sound Security prides itself in identifying clients’ specific needs and matching them with the correct software and hardware. “A lot of companies will just come out and give a camera quote,” he says. “We talk through camera locations, specific problems, and then look for the best mix of software and hardware to meet their needs.”
Palmquist explains there are many software manufacturers, and the company considers all of them for each project. Engineers examine pros and cons and specific needs before selecting which products to use. “With this installation, we considered Milestone, Verkada and Avigilon, before settling on OpenEye,” he says. “OpenEye does a fantastic job of being a midway platform financially, while also offering some really cool features, one of which is managing everything from one interface in the cloud.”
Having a full demo suite in the office enabled Safe and Sound Security to show California Capital Investment Group their options so they could see why the selected products made the most sense for their application, Palmquist adds.
The lack of Internet in the buildings presented another hurdle for Safe and Sound Security to clear. “Very few of the buildings had an Internet connection. One of their tenants operates a large server farm and would not allow any outside Internet to be brought in,” he explains. “Obviously a cloud infrastructure requires Internet services.”
To avoid the need for Internet infrastructure, engineers installed cradle point, cellular connectivity routers in each building to establish a cellular Internet connection. “All we had to do was strap the routers to the wall and plug them in,” he says. “The hard part of navigating this installation was running cables to all these cameras from a midway point. We had to work with California Capital Investment Group to gain access to every suite and run cables through them.”
An additional issue arose when installing access control readers in the elevators. “While this sounds simple, there are a lot of working parts to installing access control readers on an elevator,” Palmquist says. “We had to work with the elevator company to replace the call button with a reader, which involved a lot of relays, dry contacts and electrical theory.”
Safe and Sound Security strives to keep equipment in tip-top shape through a service level agreement (SLA) that covers maintenance, according to Palmquist.
The SLA includes firmware updates for all devices. “We push out firmware updates to devices to ensure everything is kept secure and we constantly monitor system health,” Palmquist says. “We set alerts on every device, so if an access panel or a camera goes down, our engineers know immediately. We then create a case in our Salesforce system.”
The cloud-based system provides access to the backend of all devices, allowing engineers to make most repairs remotely.
However, if engineers are unable to fix the problem remotely, the SLA covers sending technicians to fix the problem. “The technician will arrive with the replacement part in hand,” Palmquist says. “If they cannot get the device up and running, we will replace it. We also come out and clean all cameras and lenses yearly to ensure optimum performance. That is all covered in our SLA.”
The company also offers an unlimited help desk, available 24/7, 365 days a year, and unlimited training as employees come and go. “We jump on a Zoom call and fully train new employees on the system,” he says.
The initial stage of the California Capital Investment Group business park system has been operational for around a year, and according to Palmquist, Safe and Sound Security has received only positive feedback. Best of all, thefts are down inside the buildings and in the parking lots, he concludes.