Security systems company Sierra Group has been awarded a $165,516 contract to upgrade and replace portions of PCC’s existing security system, including 38 campus-wide surveillance cameras, as well as elements of the command center at campus police.

The Board of Trustees authorized the solicitation for bid for the district’s surveillance system update project in November 2015, where the project was advertised in trade journals and made available on the district’s website.

Out of 11 prospective vendors, the bid proposals that were received and considered came from Birdi and Associates, Inc., and Metro Video Systems, as well as Sierra Group.

Sierra Group was chosen “as the lowest responsive, responsible bidder meeting all requirements of the bid,” according to the consent item approved by the Board of Trustees last week.

The security company received notification last week that their bid had been accepted for the project, which may begin soon.

“I imagine we are going to meet as early as next week,” Sierra Group Director of Electronic Security and Data Services John Stenmo said. “We got the letter of intent to the award on Friday of last week.”

The Glendale-based company specializes in commercial electronic security, where they have provided services for clients such as Bank of the West, Citibank, Los Angeles Film School and the Hermosa Beach’s Police Department, where the latter specifically asked to help “identify people in fights and vandalism,” according to Stenmo.

The campus has an existing system of “140 plus cameras” campus-wide, according to Police and Safety Supervisor Sgt. Bill Abernathie of campus police, where he said that some cameras are “simply outdated” and need repositioning for better coverage of the campus overall and where trends govern.

“We look at trends that occur. Obviously the quad is a big area, we have a lot of activity going on there, so there may be repositioning of the camera so there is better viewing there,” Abernathie said. “The parking structures, and the parking lots, and things like that.”

Campus police have had several recent reports involving car thefts, car damage, and other incidents.

In January of this year, a student reported that his car was hit while it was parked in Lot 5, and another student reported that while she was in class, the passenger window of her vehicle was shattered. In early February, a parking permit was reported stolen from a car, and there have been reports of car casings.

“We‘re going to be updating our dispatch center with additional monitors so that we can monitor more cameras at once, plus upgrading and updating the software for the programs for the camera usage,” Abernathie said.

Although the details of upgrade in the command center has not be specified, according to Matthew Kiaman, director of technical services at PCC, the equipment going into the dispatch center will be consistent in its video viewing feeds from the district’s cameras.

The command center on campus police currently has two large wall monitors presenting multi-image display, and two desks that provide additional monitoring of the approximately 140 electronically surveilled areas.

“All public view, common hallways, parking structures, common structures and corridors in the school,” where there are existing cameras, are to be replaced according to Stenmo. “They didn’t shortcut on the cameras.”

Sierra Group doesn’t think the project will propose much of a challenge, in relation to some of the clientele requirements and issues that they are accustomed to.

“A campus is pretty cut and dry comparable to what we normally do,” Stenmo said, where the cameras that are to be installed are commonly used in prisons and federal facilities. He said that as “mid-priced cameras” they are of the best available in that grade.

Of the 38 cameras, 23 Pelco Spectra Pro 20X zoom cameras will be installed to provide increased resolution and zoom capability. Fifteen Pelco Sarix IME 23X optical zoom cameras will provide increased visibility as well, where finer details, such as face and license plate recognition, are required.

“Some of the reasons why this got kicked off is that some of the cameras were unreliable,” Stenmo said. “With 20X zoom, you can see a 1,000 feet, and you can read a license plate. They are putting in some pretty impressive technology.”

The system is “old and antiquated, running slower,” and the department has had problems with video footage retention. Sixty day data retention is required, according to Sgt. Abernathie.

In addition to camera replacement, the bid includes a server with increased data storage for the Enterprise Video Management System, where archival storage is key.

“We will interface with IT, just as much as with security, when we go into a project,” Stenmo said. “They are upgrading the servers to faster, more efficient servers–energy and data efficient. It makes the security desk more efficient.”

With the world filled with near-Orwellian predictions come true to life with regard to surveillance, the security company has found its work to fulfill clientele requirements that necessitate public security often a source of public challenge.

“One of the challenges we face, when we install Big Brother, is that there is a lot of push back,” Stenmo said. “In our business, there is a lot to consider–how the public is going to receive it, and how the students are going to receive it receive it….[and] once you begin doing this, people expect every square inch to be covered, and it is impossible.”

The installation is expected to start this month, according to Kiaman. The Sierra Group has a completion date of June 30, 2016.

2 Replies to “Campus surveillance system to undergo $165K upgrade”

  1. The college considered “body-cams” for the security guys. They conducted an experiment; strapping one on SM and the other on Pedro B. Due to their enhanced waist sizes, the lense frame only depicted blue bellies. Oh well.

  2. “One of the challenges we face, when we install Big Brother, is that there is a lot of push back”

    Oh my gods. Glad I’m off this campus. What a mess for the students, this and everything else I’ve read here today. ffs.

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