Client Can’t Say Enough About SSA’s Solution

The July issue of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION features a special Best of the Best section that includes coverage of the 2009 Integrated Installation of the Year. The project, a luxury condominiums installation by Pittsburgh’s Security Systems of America (SSA), is given an in-depth case study treatment. Part of the story was the end user’s satisfaction with how the job, which encompassed all electronic systems within the 45-unit complex (video surveillance, access control, intrusion alarm, systems integration, entertainment systems, etc.), turned out. Although it was touched on in the print piece, space precluded the bulk of Metropolitan Building Manager Bill McGivern’s comments from making their way into the magazine article.

So, following is bonus material associated with SSA’s Integrated Installation of the Year. Although some of his answers are a little curt and scant on details, they still help round out the complete picture of a masterful project.

The Metropolitan condominium complex received a total systems solution from Security Systems of America.

Please provide background information about yourself, who you work for and the facility/buildings the systems were installed in.
Bill McGivern: My experience comes from 20 years of facility management and maintenance in both commercial and residential environments. For nearly the past 10 years, I have worked for Walnut Capital, a Pittsburgh-based development and property management company. I presently manage The Metropolitan, a $35 million upscale condominium complex overseeing the general operations of the building, including security, staffing, maintenance, and resolving resident issues. The systems installed in my building are a Lenel access system monitoring all doors and garage areas, and a Bosch DVR camera/recorder system employing 13 high resolution color cameras. This is in addition to the 45 subsystems installed within each unit.

What sort of functionality/capabilities were you looking for in the new systems?
McGivern: Security, complete access control, unit emergency notification, unit temperature monitoring, and accurate tracking of residents and staff, including payroll/time card functions.

Why did you go with the systems and options you chose?
McGivern: Reputation, cost and ease of use.

What specifically is being serviced and protected?
McGivern: The building, its residents, and the grounds

Aesthetics were critical since the facility was designed by renowned architect Louis D. Astorino.

How and when did you find out about Security Systems of America?
McGivern: SSA was introduced via the general contractor, P.J. Dick Inc., and asked to provide some opinion and approach to the project idea.

Did they submit a bid?
McGivern: Yes.

Did you know what type and what level of system you wanted or did SSA direct you in their bid?
McGivern: SSA submitted their proposal and ideas to the developers and architect.

Why did you select SSA?
McGivern: This was based on reputation and their knowledge of the process that was required.

When did you contract them for the job?
McGivern: Within 12 months of our initial meeting.

When did the installation start? How long did it take?
McGivern: The installation started as soon as the first level came out of the ground.

What did you like about the equipment and technology?
McGivern: User-friendly, able to log in and monitor cameras from remote locations, comprehensive reports and data logs, efficient and knowledgeable technicians, and gentle learning curve.

What were the most difficult aspects of the installation process?
McGivern: Clearly, aesthetics were important. Dealing with a celebrity architect and several well known designers, the key was to maintain clean lines and not to disrupt the flow. Also, covertness with regard to cameras was especially necessary in order not to offend residents or put visitors ill at ease.

How much did it cost?
McGivern: The base budget began in the $200,000 range and moved upward from there with change orders and individual unit contracts.

How was the project coordinated with other activities involving the complex?
McGivern: There was extreme attention to detail by all of the contractors. This included a full-time project management staff, foremen and project managers from each trade, daily visits by the architect and project developers, and at least three job/trade meetings per week.

The entire integrated system feeds into a single PC connected to a pair of monitors.

Were there any surprises or disappointments related to this experience?
McGivern: Really, there were none.

What is the feedback from prospective and existing tenants, visitors, staff, etc.?
McGivern: Developers, residents, contractors and staff have all reacted positively regarding the systems and functionality.

Have there been any attempted break-ins, captures or other incidents since the system was installed?
McGivern: We were able to capture several incidents of trespassing and mischief, thefts, and damage to one of our elevators. One of our first incidents involving elevator damage by a contractor, which was denied repeatedly by the contractor, was captured very clearly by the cameras. That proof resulted in a very quick and uncontested settlement. This type of action translates very quickly into a return on investment.

How is the system monitored, and what were the training issues? Have there been any technical issues?
McGivern: The system is monitored via the event monitor in the management office for day-to-day management and documentation. The rest of the systems are monitored by SSA’s central station.

How does the system meet your needs and desires?

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