flexiblefullpage
billboard
interstitial1
catfish1
Currently Reading

Tips on planning for video surveillance cameras for apartment and condominium projects

Tips on planning for video surveillance cameras for apartment and condominium projects

“Cameras can be part of a security program, but they’re not the security solution itself.” That’s the first thing to understand about video surveillance systems for apartment and condominium projects, according to veteran security consultant Michael Silva, CPP.


By Robert Cassidy, Editor, Multifamily Design+Construction | October 11, 2019
Video surveillance camera at apartment community

Video surveillance cameras can enhance security at apartment and condominium communities, but they're not the total solution, according to security consultant Michael Silva, CPP. Photo: radionyx/stock.adobe.com

 

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

After reading this article, you should be able to:

+  LIST 3 myths related to the use of video cameras in apartment and condominium communities.

+  DEFINE "choke points" and their application to the siting of video surveillance cameras.

+  DISCUSS several physical design factors that can impede the efficacy of video surveillance systems.

+  REVIEW the impact of intensity, uniformity, and color rendering in lighting and their effect on video cameras.

 

“Cameras can be part of a security program, but they’re not the security solution itself.” That’s the first thing to understand about video surveillance systems for apartment and condominium projects, according to veteran security consultant Michael Silva, CPP.

You need to establish your security needs and develop a comprehensive security plan in the early stages of design. “The questions that don’t get asked during the design phase are almost impossible to correct when the concrete’s being poured,” said Silva. (See our 2017 BDCuniversity AIA Course for guidance on creating a security plan.)

In most cases, you’ll want to hire a specialist to help you design your system. “It’s a professional skill,” said Silva, a Certified Protection Professional, considered the “gold standard” by ASIS International, the organization that certifies security professionals. “You wouldn’t want anyone but a structural engineer to tell you where to place your columns. Same idea for your video surveillance system.”

Some architectural and electrical engineering firms have security system specialists on staff, but if that’s not the case, said Silva, hire a reputable security consultant to help choose your video system and advise you on how to deploy it. (Best source for locating a qualified security consultant: International Association of Professional Security Consultants.)

In planning your system, you need to be aware of what Silva calls the “three dirty secrets” of video surveillance systems:

1. Video cameras rarely deter crime. Most petty criminals either know they’re being recorded or don’t care, because they know local police departments don’t have the manpower to investigate minor crimes.

2. Most recorded video is useless as evidence. The image quality is rarely good enough to present in court, said Silva, and it would be cost-prohibitive to have a system that, for example, covered every square foot of a parking garage just so a tenant could determine who backed into her car.

3. Even the most up-to-date “megapixel” security cameras won’t cure all your video surveillance problems. They can’t “see” through concrete columns, and they may not be focused at the right angle. (For more discussion of security cameras, see Silva's report, "Three Dirty Little Secrets about Video Surveillance Systems."

In other words, despite what you see on “CSI” and “Law & Order,” video surveillance systems won’t completely prevent crime from happening on your property and won’t solve those crimes if they do happen. “Their primary purpose is to tell the story after the fact,” said Silva, so that the property manager can tell when and where an incident may have occurred and who may have been involved in it. Silva said he does encourage leasing offices and building managers to have a live video on display at all times, so that suspicious activity—“Who’s that person hanging around the loading dock?”—can be detected before something serious happens.

The most cost-effective route, said Silva, is to install cameras at “choke points”—critical intersections where cameras have the best chance of capturing a good image, such as the parking garage gate, the elevator lobby, and stairway entrances.

When you get to the point of actually specifying products, your security consultant should be able to give you a list of several reputable manufacturers to choose from. Silva recommends specifying security-grade cameras that work well on dark nights and in light fog (no video camera works well in dense fog, he noted) and that counteract headlight glare and lighting hot spots.

Don’t forget to check out the manufacturer’s support services. “If you get some product from outside the U.S., they may have only one domestic office for support, and it could be miles away,” Silva warned.

For a well-designed system you should budget about $2,000 per camera, including cabling, conduit, recording equipment, and installation, and negotiate downward with your supplier from that point, said Silva. But be aware that image quality can vary greatly even for the new megapixel cameras. “Cameras with a higher megapixel rating don’t necessarily produce better quality images than cameras with a lower megapixel rating,” he warns.

 

GET THE SECURITY LIGHTING RIGHT TO MAXIMIZE surveillance cameras IN APARTMENTS

Your video surveillance system won’t be effective if the intensity (the brightness of the light), uniformity (the consistency of the light level from place to place throughout the lighted area), and color rendering (how accurately the lighting renders colors) of the lighting aren’t right. This is especially true for outdoor lighting and lighting in parking garages.

Uniformity is the ratio of the maximum lighting level to the miminal lighting level in a specified area. Silva recommends a maximum uniformity ratio of 3:1 for most outdoor parking lot applications. If the uniformity ratio is too high, you’ll have “hot spots” (bright areas of glare) and “cool spots” (dark areas); in either case, the image quality will be poor.

In general, it’s better to have more lighting fixtures, more evenly spaced, than to rely on one or two high-powered luminaires. Silva further cautions against putting high-intensity lighting fixtures high up on your building and expecting them to “cover” the entire site; in most cases, the fixtures will not “spread” the light for optimal uniformity.

For courtyards, make sure you have adequate lighting along walkways. As they grow, trees and other plantings can block lighting, so be sure that landscaping is properly trimmed to prevent this.

For surface parking lots, Silva recommends an absolute minimum light level of one foot-candle throughout the entire area; 2–4 fc would be even better. Lighting in parking garages can be more difficult, given the many blockages from columns, elevator areas, etc.

Until recently, metal halide lamps were Silva’s preference for outdoor lighting; he said they’re still suitable for projects with smaller budgets. Now, however, Silva recommends LEDs. “They cost more than other systems, but they’re worth it,” he said.

He recommends LEDs that provide a white light spectrum, for more natural color rendition. “Architects will often specify colored lighting for aesthetic reasons, but for security purposes pure white light is best,” said Silva.
In siting the luminaires, minimize light intrusion into living spaces. You also want to use fixtures with shielding that guards against light pollution, especially if you’re going for LEED certification. |M|

For more from Michael Silva on lighting your parking lot for security, see lighting for security.

Related Stories

Vertical Transportation | Jul 12, 2024

Elevator regulations responsible for some of ballooning multifamily costs

Codes and regulations for elevators in the United States are a key factor in inflating costs of multifamily development, argues a guest columnist in the New York Times.

MFPRO+ New Projects | Jul 2, 2024

Miami residential condo tower provides a deeded office unit for every buyer

A new Miami residential condo office tower sweetens the deal for buyers by providing an individual, deeded and furnished office with each condo unit purchased. One Twenty Brickell Residences, a 34-story, 240-unit tower, also offers more than 60,000 sf of exclusive residential amenities.

Student Housing | Jul 1, 2024

Two-tower luxury senior living community features wellness and biophilic elements

A new, two-building, 27-story senior living community in Tysons, Va., emphasizes wellness and biophilic design elements. The Mather, a luxury community for adults aged 62 and older, is situated on a small site surrounded by high-rises.

MFPRO+ New Projects | Jun 27, 2024

Chicago’s long-vacant Spire site will be home to a two-tower residential development

In downtown Chicago, the site of the planned Chicago Spire, at the confluence of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, has sat vacant since construction ceased in the wake of the Great Recession. In the next few years, the site will be home to a new two-tower residential development, 400 Lake Shore.

MFPRO+ News | Jun 25, 2024

New York mayor releases multi-year plan to address affordable housing crisis

The plan seeks to create and preserve affordable housing. It will incentivize the inclusion of permanently affordable and rent stabilized housing in new, multi-family construction projects.

Student Housing | Jun 25, 2024

P3 student housing project with 176 units slated for Purdue University Fort Wayne

A public/private partnership will fund a four-story, 213,000 sf apartment complex on Purdue University Fort Wayne’s (PFW’s) North Campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The P3 entity was formed exclusively for this property.

Apartments | Jun 25, 2024

10 hardest places to find an apartment in 2024

The challenge of finding an available rental continues to increase for Americans nation-wide. On average, there are eight prospective tenants vying for the same vacant apartment.

MFPRO+ News | Jun 24, 2024

‘Yes in God’s Backyard’ movement could create more affordable housing

The so-called “Yes in God’s Backyard” (YIGBY) movement, where houses of worship convert their properties to housing, could help alleviate the serious housing crisis affecting many communities around the country.

Student Housing | Jun 20, 2024

How student housing developments are evolving to meet new expectations

The days of uninspired dorm rooms with little more than a bed and a communal bathroom down the hall are long gone. Students increasingly seek inclusive design, communities to enhance learning and living, and a focus on wellness that encompasses everything from meditation spaces to mental health resources.

MFPRO+ News | Jun 20, 2024

National multifamily outlook: Summer 2024

The multifamily sector continues to be strong in 2024, even when a handful of challenges are present. That is according to the Matrix Multifamily National Report for Summer 2024.

boombox1
boombox2
native1

More In Category




halfpage1

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021