Tech Talk: Meeting System Installation & Performance Requirements

If you provide quality products and services they should perform to the best of their design and ability. Your new assignment is to help communities, jurisdictions, cities, townships and customers find a way to encourage better security system performance and design.

Recently I was discussing CCTV system performance assessment with a colleague. The topic brought out some of the passion we both share for CCTV system “best practices.” It also made me think of how many in our industry are missing some great opportunities to generate new business in their communities.

This month I have decided to dedicate some time to your system installation & performance requirements (SIPR).

Educate Your Local Officials

Your communities, jurisdictions, cities, townships and customers need you and your security services more than ever. However, many just don’t know it. Your new assignment is to help them find a way to encourage better security system performance and design. As you may have heard me say in the past, the perfect storm is brewing: New opportunities abound for your company and the jurisdictions you service.

One of the best examples I can think of is the ongoing cry heard from authorities for the reduction of false alarms. Municipalities have panicked due to dwindling finances and manpower. While false alarm ordinances and fines are in place, there is more that both you and they can do.

It has been statistically proven that false alarms can be considerably reduced and system performance improved by an ongoing commitment to system maintenance, inspections and operations training. The model has already been established with fire systems and annual inspections.

Wouldn’t it also better serve the community to have other security systems such as intrusion, duress, PERS, access and, yes, even CCTV included? Security system technology is unique in that a system may sit at the ready for years and then at a moment’s notice need to perform quickly and reliably for the safety of both the customer and the community.

This is often not the case with poorly designed and maintained systems, and inadequately trained personnel. The insistence of local authorities to have a reliable and enforceable SIPR program is not only good for the community, but can also provide additional service revenue streams for your business. The concept is simple: If you provide quality products and services they should perform to the best of their design and ability.

Essential SIPR Building Blocks

Many security companies already have some form of a SIPR program in place. If you do not have a program then now is the time to start. Become a leader of quality security products and services in your area. Do you have a local alarm association? If so, are you a member? You might want to discuss the topics with your fellow members.

There is already some really great information, assistance and aids available to help put these SIPR programs in place. It can also cost very little to standardize on certain best practices. One endeavor I’ve talked about before but is worth repeating is the Installation Quality (IQ) program. The IQ Certification Web site has some very good checklist forms you can download for free. 

IQ is a good example of a program or organization that has evolved from the need for good workmanship and system performance. I can almost guarantee that your local AHJ is not aware of such a program or documentation. Again, you are the security professional, so spread the word.

Let’s take a look at some of the key SIPR building blocks:

System design — Does your system meet guidelines from UL, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the manufacturer and AHJ? Does the sales prospect understand what is available and what they are approving? Are your personnel certified and trained? Have all the causes and effects of system performance been reviewed with the customer?

System install — Did you set an installation schedule review with the customer? Is the system being installed as professionally and expeditiously as possible?  Have the manufacturer’s installation suggestions been taken into consideration? Is there an installation assignment list so all involved know when and what is to be done? Are personnel certified and trained? On larger projects, what are the milestones? At what points do inspectors need to visit? Is the customer in the loop on progress?

System performance inspection — Has the equipment been tested per manufacturer’s directions and training? Has the final inspection been conducted with the AHJ and inspectors? Do you have completed inspection lists? 

System training — Does the customer have copies of all equipment documentation in the system? Have you provided hands-on training for all system operators?

System wrap-up — Has the customer signed off on the system design, installation, testing and training? Do you have an annual maintenance program in place?

Applying SIPR to CCTV Systems

Security video is everywhere today; however, good forensic video is still rare. Quality recorded evidentiary video is important at the time of a crime for both the owner of a business and the community. This is another great opportunity for establishing a SIPR program with your jurisdictions. 

Recently, I revisited a video measurement and testing method I covered some time ago (June 2004) called the Rotakin target system. This system was put into place in the United Kingdom and helped provide a performance standard for CCTV systems. I am glad to report there are new updates and free material you can download from the U.K. Home Office Web site. The new handout packet contains facial, license plate and resolution/performance targets that will allow you to set up your own CCTV SIPR testing program (see photo).

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About the Author

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Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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