Advice for Video Surveillance at subdivision entrance\exit

nbstl68

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Has anyone here ever set up or contracted out a surveillance system for their neighborhood who could give me some advice on estimating costs and\or finding a reputable outsource solution?

My HOA wants me to research setting up surveillance cameras at the entrance and exit of our subdivision and I am not sure where to start with this project.
I am looking for advice on what would be necessary for a successful setup and\or how to find a reputable local company to discuss design and cost or if I should even go that route. I searched BBB and have a list of companies but would prefer actual references.
(I am located in St. Louis\ St. Charles County, Missouri)

I am also torn on considering a "do-it-myself setup" vs. contacting a professional company to handle it. It would probably save a lot of money and have complete control over the system what cameras and equipment are used, but t I know just enough about all of this to be dangerous and not really sure where what all it would entail for purchase and set-up. A big con is I would be eternally responsible for the set-up and maintenance which I do not really want to want to take on but we would not have a large budget
My experience is only with setting up my home system consisting of Dahua cameras and a BI server.
I do have a pretty favorable start in that both locations at least have electrical power, (an outdoor covered 12v outlet because there are powered gates.). We also could have internet access set up, (there is fiber there, not yet connected, just termination points for setup) at each point.

I would like to have at least 2 cameras at each location; an overview camera and a camera capable of seeing license plates, (maybe even LPR setup at some point).

Here's what I assume I'd need to purchase \ have installed at a minimum:
Internet modem\ONT\router
POE switch
Waterproof housing(s) to secure the equipment. (would this need to be ventilated?, fan? Who makes such a large enough enclosure?)
Mounted electrical panel and\or pole to hold the equipment and cameras.
 

bigredfish

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We did the same for our little HOA back in 2016.

Ours was relatively easy as its a small cul-de-sac with just one entry and only 1/4 mile long with 41 homes.

Basically we had a contractor install poles at both the entrance and cul-de-sac, and electrician established service and installed NEMA boxes for the equipment, and the cable company ran connections to both boxes.

At first we went with EagleEye cloud based solution on the contractors suggestion. We bought and owned the cameras, but streamed to EE and all VMS functionality was with them and relatively easily accessible via the web. The problem we found was we couldnt stream full 24/7 hi res video, they wanted us to only record events and at relatively low res 4096, Internet useage and cost grew, and a number of other things that once you know, you'd rather control yourself.. Its a good service and they may have improved things since, but we're glad we went stand alone.

So in 2017 we upgraded cameras, bought an NVR for each box and are self managed now.

In each box we have:
-Cable modem
-Router
-PoE switch
-NVR (we used the Dahua 4208 series, but if I had to again Id go with the 5200 series)

Basically we have an overview camera and LPR camera on each pole as you said, but we've also added a PTZ at the entrance and another zoomed camera at each location to be able to see further down the street.

This shows the pole just behind the entrance wall and the before and after shot with the new PTZ mounted on it

Image3.jpg


On that pole
Overview 5442 bullet looking Into the neighborhood (also acts as a spotter cam for the PTZ at the entrance to get outbound plates)
HOA Entr_StreetView_main_20201025180441_@3.jpg

Dedicated 5231 Z12 LPR cam facing same direction into neighborhood
HOA Entr_EntrTag_main_20200725155924_@3.jpg

PTZ looking out does double duty. Watches/tracks entrance for humans 24/7 as well as zooms on command from spotter cam to get plates outbound
View attachment HOA Entr_ch1_20201117081933_20201117082008.mp4
















Spotter/Overview cam sees car leaving and tells PTZ to zoom to entrance to get outbound plate
View attachment HOA Ent_ch2_20201026121526_20201026121537.mp4















View attachment HOA Ent_ch1_20201026121530_20201026121556.mp4
















HOA Ent_IP PTZ Camera_main_20201026121551_@3.jpg
 
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nbstl68

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Looks like a pretty slick setup and almost exactly what we'd need to do!
I have a string of questions if you don't mind!

How tall a pole did you go with?
Is the flat object an extra IR light?..needed for being able to get good images or plates at night?
You managed to get a modem, router, POE switch and NVR to all fit in one junction box? Can I see a picture of that?
Is it all hard wired by the electrician or did they install an outlet or surge strip to plug in everything?
What are the box dimensions and did you need venting or a fan to keep everything from overheating in the summer in Florida?
Has any of the equipment ever failed or required much maintenance?
You purchased, installed and configured the cameras yourself? How complex was that to set up, (one cam tracking when another is triggered and such)?

I know it's almost 5 years later but roughly how much did the whole arrangement cost the subdivision?
 

bigredfish

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Looks like a pretty slick setup and almost exactly what we'd need to do!
I have a string of questions if you don't mind!

How tall a pole did you go with?

14ft, but the pole sits on a little rise about 4ft higher than street

Is the flat object an extra IR light?..needed for being able to get good images or plates at night?
Yep. Tendelux BI18 200ft rated IR illuminator. But really it depends on the distance from camera to plate capture point. You may not need one at all

You managed to get a modem, router, POE switch and NVR to all fit in one junction box? Can I see a picture of that?
culdesacbox-open.JPG

Is it all hard wired by the electrician or did they install an outlet or surge strip to plug in everything?
They provided the box and an outlet inside, and of course set the meter next to it

What are the box dimensions and did you need venting or a fan to keep everything from overheating in the summer in Florida?
I'll have to go measure later today, but I think about 18-20" square and about 10-12" deep. No extra fan, just the natural air from the conduit holes. Stuff is tougher than most think.

Has any of the equipment ever failed or required much maintenance?
Nope not yet. But I wouldnt be surprised to lose a HD or router this year #5. Thats what? A couple of hundred bucks over 5 years? Cheap.

You purchased, installed and configured the cameras yourself? How complex was that to set up, (one cam tracking when another is triggered and such)?
Yes. With the help of this forum, it wasnt too bad at all. The spotter cam/PTZ took a few days to figure out but not too tough as long as you are using a Dahua NVR and cameras.

I know it's almost 5 years later but roughly how much did the whole arrangement cost the subdivision?
Thats really hard but I'll take a stab

    • 2 Poles set, boxes and initial Elec/Internet connections- about $6000-$7000
    • Ongoing Internet - 2 dedicated IP's and connections - $150p/mo
    • Cameras- $200 a piece roughly. The PTZ is much more, closer to $1200
 
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nbstl68

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Thanks for all the detailed information.
I did not think about the dedicated, (I assume that means the same thing as a "static" IP) address so it never changes. We are lucky to have the internet company providing the two fiber internet connections with no monthly charge, but not sure if they will include static IPs if asked. If not I wonder how I would manage connectivity when the IP to the router changes.
That initial setup cost for post and electrical may be a hurdle for us.

When you say, "They provided the box and an outlet inside, ", is this a private electrician you hired or the local electrical utility company doing the work?

Do you upload footage to a cloud server yourself or only keep it on the NVR in the NEMA box? No one has tried to steal any of it yet?!
 

bigredfish

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Thanks for all the detailed information.
I did not think about the dedicated, (I assume that means the same thing as a "static" IP) address so it never changes. We are lucky to have the internet company providing the two fiber internet connections with no monthly charge, but not sure if they will include static IPs if asked. If not I wonder how I would manage connectivity when the IP to the router changes.
That initial setup cost for post and electrical may be a hurdle for us.

When you say, "They provided the box and an outlet inside, ", is this a private electrician you hired or the local electrical utility company doing the work?

Do you upload footage to a cloud server yourself or only keep it on the NVR in the NEMA box? No one has tried to steal any of it yet?!
yes the private electrician set the box and power connection once the Elec company set the meter.

All video stored on the NVRs in the boxes. No vandalism so far. Most wouldn’t know to look

Remember we’re not storing National Security secrets ( though one could argue they’re more secure ;) and if something happened more than say a week ago, 99% chance nobody cares. We store about 3-4 weeks worth in two 4GB hard drives on each machine.

If I or a homeowner sees something, I snag the recording down to my own machine and put each incident on its own thumb drive for LE. We don’t live in a high crime area, maybe a dozen “events” a year.
 

bigredfish

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And MOST IMPORTANTLY

Advise homeowners up front:
1- nobody is monitoring 24/7
2- if you want “view only” access of the substream on a mobile device, download DMSS and we’ll give you the IP (so far 3 have out of 41. Most just don’t care)
3- Dont call me to see who’s dog took a shit in your yard
 

wtimothyholman

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I am also torn on considering a "do-it-myself setup" vs. contacting a professional company to handle it. It would probably save a lot of money and have complete control over the system what cameras and equipment are used, but t I know just enough about all of this to be dangerous and not really sure where what all it would entail for purchase and set-up. A big con is I would be eternally responsible for the set-up and maintenance which I do not really want to want to take on but we would not have a large budget
My experience is only with setting up my home system consisting of Dahua cameras and a BI server.
I do have a pretty favorable start in that both locations at least have electrical power, (an outdoor covered 12v outlet because there are powered gates.). We also could have internet access set up, (there is fiber there, not yet connected, just termination points for setup) at each point.
My advice is to split the difference on "do-it-yourself" vs. professional installation. Hire someone to run the cables and mount the cameras, but select the hardware yourself. Consider getting some good PTZ cameras, as these can be configured after the fact for LPC, or pointed and zoomed in any direction required without climbing a pole. Also be sure to provide some UPS battery backup in case of power failure.

Almost any security company will try to sell you an NVR. If you want to use Blue Iris or SecuritySpy, you're far better off installing and configuring the computer and storage yourself. If you keep the computer in a secure (temperature controlled) location, you can VNC into it from anywhere to handle software maintenance.
 

bigredfish

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We have 7 total cameras, 6 fixed and one ptz. We may get another ptz for the culdesac, but don’t try and do everything with PTZs. It costs more and they won’t be looking where you want them to when things happen. Use PTZs to supplement your existing full coverage.

Dahua NVRs are reliable and virtually maintenance free and have far more capabilities than you will ever use
 

The Automation Guy

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How many entrances do you have? The likelihood of achieving any goals of a neighborhood CCTV system certainly goes down as the entrances and number of residents increase.

I live in a neighborhood that has over 800 homes and 7 different entrances. We have some neighbors that are convinced that a CCTV system will solve all the crime in the neighborhood (which is generally limited to theft from unlocked car doors and maybe a utility trailer being stolen every other year). I keep trying to explain to people that the cost of an effective system would run tens of thousands of dollars and wouldn't help with 95% of the crime anyway given the number of cars that enter and exit the neighborhood; especially since one road (two entrances) is used as a shortcut by lots of non-residents and the sheer number of entrances and exits that someone can use.

While I haven't run accurate pricing, I don't think it is off base to say it will cost a min of $5,000 per entrance (to run utilities, and purchase mounting poles and misc hardware, cameras, network gear, etc), so for us that would run at least $35,000 (probably higher - especially if professionally installed) for the seven entrances plus a pretty high ongoing cost for the utilities/internet. All to so that we can record thousands of cars entering and exiting the neighborhood each day with the hope that we can somehow magically identify random criminals who stole crap out of your unlocked car.

For us, it would be much more effective to install fake cameras at all the entrances. This would do as much deterrence as an actual installed system (which is going to be about zero if we are honest) but without all of the cost and maintenance of a real system.
 
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bigredfish

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Agree with @The Automation Guy , once you scale beyond 1-3 access points it becomes a cost/benefit problem. We fortunately keep 2years worth of dues in reserve so had the cash. Another choice is a 1x special assessment of say $50..

We’re lucky in that being small we get good coverage of the front of most homes and driveways (6 are out of view) along with 95%+ plates. We don’t store plates, no real need. If we have an event it’s simple to identify the vehicle and get the plate.

We have helped LE catch more than a few bad guys, including a break in, numerous car checkers, a domestic dispute that turned ugly, stolen vehicle left at culdesac, even a lost special needs kid. And the homeowners appreciate the service. I can argue the big hunking PTZ has distracted a few druggies from checking cars on our street. Word gets around the druggie community ;)

If you have a bunch of access points, it may be worth checking into a turnkey supplied and Cloud hosted solution such as Eagle Eye.
 

nbstl68

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Thanks, this is all very helpful. The neighborhood is about 125 homes but we have only 2 entry\exit points. Technically gated but the board chooses to leave them open during daytime hours and 24/ during the winter months citing the hassle for school buses, trash, snowplow services etc. if closed all the time, so not much of a security feature themselves. Not a high crime area either but the numbers of incidents around the back streets by us has been increasing so between that and this political armageddon we may be heading for, neighbors are getting nervous, prompting this request. Covering these two points should be very similar to your setup. The board wants more than just local storage on NVR so I have a call into Eagle Eye just to discuss options for cloud storage or for arranging the full setup..but I agree with pricing discussed above I agree it will probably not be cheap.

I use BI at home. I was under the impression to use BI the computer server running it had to be right there with the equipment; router, switch etc. Is that not the case?
Is BI an option to have as a separate, (or as the "offsite" secondary backup in addition to an NVR instead of a paid cloud service?) computer in my basement running BI remotely connected to pull in 24/7 video from all (probably 4) the cameras? We have a new 1G fiber run in the neighborhood, but I imagine that would still be a lot of full time bandwidth...so questions if the ISP would not like that...since they are giving us the connections for free.
 

The Automation Guy

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I use BI at home. I was under the impression to use BI the computer server running it had to be right there with the equipment; router, switch etc. Is that not the case?
Is BI an option to have as a separate, (or as the "offsite" secondary backup in addition to an NVR instead of a paid cloud service?) computer in my basement running BI remotely connected to pull in 24/7 video from all (probably 4) the cameras? We have a new 1G fiber run in the neighborhood, but I imagine that would still be a lot of full time bandwidth...so questions if the ISP would not like that...since they are giving us the connections for free.
Please note, in this post I may use the term "computer" or "BI computer" to represent the device that is recording the camera's outputs. Since this is a BI forum, it obviously could be a computer running BlueIris software, but it does not have to be. It could be a hardware NVR or any other device capable to recording the camera streams.

There are several possibilities. One is that a small form computer is actually installed on location. Odds are you will end up with a decent size waterproof utility box to hold all of the network gear, so to add a small computer wouldn't be a big deal IMHO. This network box is usually mounted high on a pole to prevent unauthorized access. It simply looks like any other utility box that are mounted on poles all over that we simply ignore. The computer should have local storage (drives are pretty big now, so a single recording drive is probably all that is needed), as well as the optional ability upload to the cloud or to a resident's computer with an attached HOA owned USB drive for archiving. Or if the neighborhood has a clubhouse, pool or some other community owned building with internet service, a machine could be installed there to archive the footage (this prevents a single resident from having to be responsible for the archived footage). The advantage to this system is that it works as long as the computer is working and the cameras have power. You might loose remote access/archiving if the internet connection goes down, but the local system will still be recording everything as long as there is power.

Second, if you did not want a local device handling the recording, then a secure VPN connection connection could be set up on the networking gear that would allow an offsite computer (again perhaps a resident running a machine with BI software on it or a cloud solution) to VPN into the network and record the camera feeds. By using a VPN, the BI computer and cameras would all appear on the same network so it would work just like a local setup even if there is considerable distance between the cameras and BI computer. Of course this system relies on a working network/internet connection. It will fail without one and therefore nothing would be recorded. Obviously the possibility of failure is much higher than the first solution where there is a local BI computer at the physical location of the cameras.

I think the first solution is by far the most desired because it ensures that the cameras are being recorded regardless of the status of the internet connection. Adding an archive solution is smart and allows the local files to be deleted regularly although it can be done infrequently enough that any event that occurred in recent times would likely be available in two locations - the local machine at the camera location and the archive solution location. This provides needed redundancy in case something happens to one copy.
 
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bigredfish

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Anytime you decide to store video offsite, cloud or BI in your basement, either way you're going to be sucking bandwidth streaming 2-4 cameras per location over the wire. I think you have to ask yourself why? What is the real risk and value of archiving the video footage? That was one of the reasons we got away from EagleEye. Cost of internet upload as well as the constant tendency to want to reduce that cost via limiting bitrates and FPS and even going from full time to event-only recording. It became a death sprial for quality and effective coverage

Again agree with @The Automation Guy that on-site recording is preferred, I recommend NVR's that have proven to be simple, reliable and capable.

By the way, they're easy enough to monitor live or pull recording from using SMartPSS. I have ours running most all day every day at my desk
smartpssview-3.jpg
 
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nbstl68

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Again, great information, thanks! Looks like the SmartPSS is a pretty clean setup and you have the HOA and personal home cameras combined into one view which is nice. I like my BI setup but the NVR setup looks clean and reliable...wish they put it together in a smaller form factor because that looks like the largest piece of equipment dictating how big of a box will be on the pole or elsewhere.
 

bigredfish

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SmartPSS sucks as a VMS. Don’t install that module.

But as a viewer/monitor and downloading clips, managing top level functions, it’s great. I have 5 different NVRs at 5 diff locations on that screen on a 6 year old laptop running windows 7. You can listen to cams with audio, set popup alarms for various events, turn various functions on/off etc...
 

nbstl68

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So what do I install on my computer as a VMS if I go with the Dahua NVR? I took your post to mean you were using SmartPSS
 

bigredfish

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Compact 1 HD 6 TB is 1/3 the size I used. I have one at home running 5 of my 5442 4MP cams all running 8192 bitrate and 30 FPS
 
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