Tips to reduce future issues with system reliance, costs and liability.
With new video surveillance and ‘security’ providers showing up every week, how can you ensure your community doesn’t get stuck with unreasonable costs, hardware or liability? Here is a simple list to use when shopping for vendors or solutions.
- Do you own the hardware/cameras?
Don’t fall into a trap of leasing a camera system or paying monthly on hardware that may be obsolete well prior to the time it’s paid off. Surveillance is a capital improvement to the community as it adds value to the site. Research the cameras. Be sure the company has been around a while. If the vendor won’t provide camera brand and model – run away.
- Are the cameras proprietary to the system?
If you cannot take that camera and use it on another video surveillance solution be wary of signing any contract. If you’re not happy with the product you can’t use the camera with any other recording solution. You have been locked in! Don’t do it as should the company fail or let the camera get outdated you have no recourse.
- If catching license plates on public roads, are you simply recording the video or are you indexing all the cars that come into the neighborhood?
If you are building a database of people coming and going – BE VERY CAREFUL. That is no different than putting a camera on a major road and capturing all license data. And if the board has access to this data that is a potential lawsuit waiting to happen and if different than private property recording (parking garage, airport, etc.). You do not need to have someone tell you how many times you have driving down the road over the last 2 weeks. You can see where that information can be abused quite easily.
- Are you getting only licenses?
Make sure are also getting an overview shot – who’s walking in, who’s riding bikes. So much data comes from more than just the car.
- Does the system tie into your amenities does that require a different website login and user interface?
With technology these days it is almost ridiculous if you have to login to another location to see other cameras. You should login to your community and see EVERY camera you have on the property. Not one login for the entrance cameras and a separate login for the pool.
- Can you access the live video at any time?
You should be able to view live video from ANY camera as well as recordings from ANY camera 24/7 from any web browser, phone and/or tablet. If any camera is just taking video and pictures and sending up to be looked at that is NOT a true cloud or recording system. Make sure you can see the camera any time just in case it’s needed for monitoring or in the event of an emergency.
The goal of community video surveillance is to 1) deter any unwanted activity 2) catch any unwanted activity so it can be dealt with accordingly 3) provide a mechanism to learn about the usage of the surveilled areas and 4) help manage a property.
Video surveillance is NOT for tracking how many times a particular neighbor/spouse/child leaves the neighborhood or visits the amenity area. We have seen some communities, HoA’s in particular, go down a path that should be monitored carefully to avoid future lawsuits or incidents.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns about your condo, apartment or HoA.