Video Surveillance Workout: Securing a 24-Hour Gym

Nov. 2, 2012
Security firm wins the job and keeps customers by supplying rugged, durable cameras and DVRs that meet customer requirements.

Video surveillance systems are used for applications such as convenience, safety, security, and loss prevention. Cameras are deployed in conjunction with access and door control systems to encourage proper usage and provide additional authentication of who is gaining access.

Camera systems may be used in real time to view activity as it is occurring, and to review past occurrences if an irregularity is reported and proof is sought.

The video cameras and recorders you use will depend on several factors. Although the cost of the equipment will always be a factor, it should not be the only factor guiding your decision.

For an example, if you are bidding a project where a particular product is specified, you will always shop for the best price just like the person requesting the bid is seeking the low bidder. If the bid specification allows for an approved equivalent, you can plug in an alternate (based on price, quality or both) and hope it gets approved as an equivalent.

I’ve participated in bids where I’ve wanted to offer an alternate because I had a product that I could procure for less than the item that was specified. If you are a small company, you probably do not get the same discounts on products as the bigger companies do.

I’ve also participated in bids where I had an alternative solution which I felt would do the job better.

Without addendums being created, substituting a more expensive item in your bid puts you at a disadvantage, even if your substitution is a stroke of genius.

Once in a while, the bid will state that the selection of the vendor will be based on multiple factors, not just the lowest price. In these situations you can offer a few alternates with detailed performance details, and you will not be placing yourself at a disadvantage.

When we’re responding to customers’ requests for quotes, (in other words non-bid commercial sales), we like to standardize on our vendors and the product models we sell so the designers and installers can get familiar with the equipment deployment, be able to train the customers, and enable us to keep spares on hand for emergency service. Frankly with the evolution of the products, items are frequently discontinued and newer technology takes their place, so keeping an inventory is not a good investment.

We generally offer a one-year warranty, but will extend the warranty if it seems like it will be the deal maker. Most warranties do not include a free advanced replacement, but it has a lot to do with how you and your vendor do business together.

We usually have several projects running concurrently, so it may be possible to float one project a loaner item from another project in an earlier stage of completion, so you can send the bad item back without inconveniencing the client or yourself or create a liability for your company by leaving a client without a camera.

Case Study

The case history project this month was for a 24-hour fitness gym. We had already done some business with them when they first opened, and although they were a franchise, and were compelled to use certain items and services supplied to them by the franchiser, they still needed some door hardware supplied and installed.

But our company was not hired for the video surveillance installation. I had showed them cameras and DVRs but they were reluctant to go outside of the rules set forth by the franchiser.

Now they were expanding, and asked for a quote on a couple of cameras and a larger DVR.

I have gone through the evolutionary process with video equipment. Since we frequently bid, we have handled top of the line cameras and DVRs. We have also tried going to the other extreme by trying our luck with importing stuff direct, or almost direct.

Ordering direct from offshore suppliers means dealing with shipping and customs problems, minimum order requirements, currency conversion, time zones, language barriers and quality control. Ordering ‘almost’ direct entails dealing with minimum orders, language barriers and quality control.

Ordering through distribution adds another level into the supply chain and may price you out of the running. Going through distribution, however, afford you with a wider selection of product, and your distributor may act on your behalf with warranty issues. Distributors are also broadening their range of product to meet the demand for lower price points.

While you can also obtain tech support from distributors, you are better off gaining in-house expertise so you can figure things out for yourself.

Another source of hardware is to buy direct from a domestic manufacturer.

The meaning of the word ‘manufacturer’ has changed over the last few decades, especially in the electronics industry. It is common knowledge that video equipment is virtually all manufactured offshore, but many companies have product built and tested to their own specifications and have their brand name applied. They also have sales and technical staff here which streamlines procurement and support.

With this project, I turned to one of my trusted vendors. I trust them because we’ve successfully completed every project we’ve worked on with them. We have never had to eat a job or leave behind an angry client. I picked cameras and a DVR we knew would produce the kind of performance, features and reliability both the client and I required.

Some customers can self train themselves on new products, since this equipment is somewhat similar in many respects to the computers and entertainment products they use all the time. But even when you provide manuals, some customers are hesitant or too busy. We tell them we’ll get them up and running, so that is what we do. Our vendor is helpful in this regard.

IDView IV-DV502IRS Cameras

This all-purpose camera that looks good in commercial environments. It is suitable for indoors as well as outside and is vandal resistant. Being weatherproof means it will with stand rigors of most installation environments. Being vandal resistant means it will not only survive the trauma of being installed but it will hold up against deliberate or accidental physical abuse.

This camera has 620 line resolution, onscreen display for tweaking the image, and infrared LEDs so it sees in the dark.

The camera has a four-axis camera mount so it can be installed in just about any position. We generally use our cameras for wide angle, and this camera’s 2.8-12mm lens is as wide as you can get before the image goes fish-eyed.

My customers have all liked the images this camera produces and that’s really important. This camera is also competitively priced, which also really important.

Features include:

  • 1/3" SONY Super HAD CCD
  • Day/Night Function
  • 620 TVL
  • 0.3 Lux @ F1.2 (Color)
  • Sens-up (x256)
  • 35 IR LED (0.0 Lux IR on), Viewing Distance 100ft
  • On Screen Display Menu
  • 3DDNR
  • Privacy Zone
  • Motion Detection
  • 4-Axis, true 160 degree viewing angle


The DVR is user-friendly and has a very compact footprint. It comes with a wireless remote and a hard-wired mouse, but you can use a wireless mouse if you are putting the DVR in place where a wired mouse would be inconvenient. On one job, we put the DVR in a metal enclosure and used an extender cable so the remote would work through the metal enclosure. This also works if the primary viewing area is in a room other than where the DVR is located.

I gave the customer a very attractive price by not supplying a DVD drive or a monitor. They can use the USB and offload video to either a flashdrive or through the network to a computer or other storage if they need forensics.

Most customers have a computer and a router, so they can use a networked computer to operate the DVR, and also can access the DVR from offsite.

They can also buy their own VGA monitor so I do not have to compete with big box stores and on-line retailers.

Even though most folks see video surveillance for sale in stores and so forth, most of them are intimidated enough to not undertake an installation themselves.

This gym application required full-time recording so I provided a 2 TB hard drive.

The club has a “members only” entrance. A valid credential is required to get in. A sensor is mounted to the opening which monitors for piggybacking and propped-open doors.

Piggybacking in this case is when a member allows a person without a credential (a non-payer) to come in with them. This sensor had been wired into the old DVR.

In the morning, the manager would review the alerts generated by the detector, then search back to the time stamp and identify the offender. Our DVR provided the means to do this so they were happy.

The owner wanted to be able to view cameras and archived video from home. Our DVR provided this functionality so they were happy.

ID View eight-channel Model IV-811ZAECO/IV and 16- channel Model 1611ZAECO features include:

  • H.264 main profile compression technology, saves 20 percent more recording time than the traditional H.264 method
  • 2 USB ports help users to operate the DVR (mouse or touch panel) and backup or upgrade firmware at the same time
  • Up to 480fps NTSC at CIF
  • Dual stream, recording at D1 and viewing at CIF or QCIF remotely
  • CMS (Central Management Software) supports up to 16 pcs DVRs for free
  • Intelligent 3G/GPRS mobile surveillance: Symbian, Windows mobile, iPhone, Blackberry, HTC Android
  • GUI with 16 bit True Color
  • Upgrade firmware by USB or network
  • Supports up to 2 SATA devices for 8CH DVR, 3 SATA devices for 16CH DVR

For more information on ID View products, contact your local locksmith distributor or IDView Technologies, 12000 Ford Road, Suite 110, Dallas, TX 75234. Telephone: 972-247-1203. Web site