How the Electronic Security Industry Protected the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte

Read the inspiring story of how channel partners prioritized giving over getting to provide those less fortunate with safer passage.

All the news that’s fit to cause fits. It tends to lean that way as negative stories seem to draw the most attention and coverage, particularly from mainstream media. All too frequently, the electronic security industry gets caught up in the muck and mire of this penchant for sensationalism with reports abounding of system failures, false alarms and sales scams. The truth of the matter is for an industry that saves lives and protects property on a daily basis, that depiction could not be more misrepresentative and distorted. Beyond its noble purpose, the industry’s high character is evidenced by its widespread humanitarian, community and charitable pursuits.

Proof of that is quite visible for those truly interested in being exposed to the positive and more accurate representation of the security industry. For example, one of the most hotly contested among the dozen categories comprising Security Sales & Integration‘s annual SAMMY (Sales & Marketing) Awards is the Best Community Outreach Program, which shines a light on dozens of uplifting and inspirational cases of selfless dedication for the greater good. As well, the majority of SSI‘s 80 or so Industry Hall of Fame inductees are as notable for their philanthropic efforts as for their security accomplishments.

Another powerful demonstration of such industry altruism springs from a recent collaboration among security product manufacturers and an integrator to provide North Carolina’s Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC) with an upgraded video surveillance system. MSC was contending with an old, dilapidated CCTV system and looking for better means to ensure security of the facility and the safety of clients, volunteers and visitors – but as a nonprofit organization naturally cost was a major hurdle. Fortunately, a systems integrator was among the shelter’s helpers.

View our slideshow of the project.

Project Parts & Smarts Donors

  • ADI
  • Altronix
  • BCD Video
  • Connectivity LLC
  • CSC
  • Enterprise Security System
  • Hikvision USA
  • West Penn Wire

“Kurt Kottkamp of ESS [Enterprise Security Systems] volunteers at the shelter through his church, and that’s how we learned about his business. That initiated a conversation that led to contracting his company to do the work,” says MSC Executive Director Carson Dean. “Their need for a new system was obvious and because it’s my profession, I was excited to be able to help them,” says Kottkamp, ESS’ president.

Kottkamp called upon his strong vendor relationships, reaching out to ESS’ Tier One Partners to contribute to this worthy cause by supplying devices at little to no cost. The successful undertaking enabled him to propose and design an affordable solution at less than half the market price. Following is how it all came together in a tale that serves as a model for other security professionals to emulate. Caution: Proceed only if you like happy endings.

Charity Begins With Integrator

The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte has served the community since 1981. The organization operates two emergency locations that shelter up to 400 men every night. MSC has a housing component that helps move about 500 men a year out of the shelter and into more appropriate housing, and an income element to assist men in obtaining and/ or increasing benefits income (e.g. Social Security, disability, VA, etc.) and employment income. MSC’s supportive services center helps homeless men with education, medical, mental health, substance abuse recovery, housing, employment searches, etc. The nonprofit’s meal service is its largest volunteer opportunity with more than 120 congregations helping serve five meals daily.

The video surveillance installation was to be carried out at MSC’s 30,000-square-feet Tryon Street campus, which sits just outside Charlotte’s downtown, referred to as Center City or Uptown. The former warehouse was built in the early 1950s and converted for shelter use in the late 1980s. It now includes 216 emergency shelter beds, a commercial kitchen, housing and employment resource center, and supportive services center.

“There was an old system in place with only a few cameras still functional and the software used to monitor had almost completely failed,” says Dean, who has been with MSC since 2008. “I’m not sure when it was first installed but certainly more than 10 years ago. It was put together piecemeal and was just a poor system that wasn’t working anymore.”

The new system would serve myriad purposes. MSC’s homeless and transient population breeds an environment with potential conflict and theft concerns among guests, there’s the need to protect staff and property, guard against liability issues, and identify how situations arose and were subsequently handled.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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