Madrone Condominium Complex Security Upgrade Yields 33% ROI in Four Months

Madrone condominiums elevated perimeter and interior security, helping the HOA recoup vendor damage and prevent false liability claims.

Madrone Condominium Complex Security Upgrade Yields 33% ROI in Four Months

Photo courtesy of Axis Communications

SAN FRANCISCO — When The Madrone, a trio of high-end, high-rise condominiums in the Mission Bay community, opened in 2012 its minimal security camera system was already a decade behind the technology curve.

As the neighborhood changed over the years, it was clear that the system was woefully inadequate to meet the basic safety needs of the residential community.

“Our first mission was to upgrade our trailing technology,” says Johnny Gustetich, treasurer of The Madrone Homeowners Association. “The image quality of our existing cameras was so poor that we couldn’t even distinguish a person’s face.”

The second mission was to expand coverage beyond the entrances to the three properties.

“Our original camera deployment left us with a lot of gaps,” says Gustetich. “In addition to general coverage, we felt it was important to protect the shared amenities that make The Madrone such a great place to live, like the outdoor pool and spa area, the children’s playground, the game room and the fitness studio.”

“Our third mission focused on selecting a surveillance solution that could easily integrate with our other systems like Milestone’s Husky IVO video management software (VMS), access control, garage gates and elevators, as well as our fire alarm system,” says Gustetich. “Any cameras we chose had to be based on open standards to allow them to accommodate new technologies going forward.”

The HOA brought in zettacomm, a multi-faceted systems automation company and Axis Communications partner, to help them achieve their goals. Rather than simply rip and replace the entire camera system, zettacomm advised the HOA to take a different approach.

They suggested a challenging undertaking to install a new state-of-the-art Axis system, while keeping the existing system operational so as to not lose important footage through the duration of the installation. Efforts were also made to preserve what they could of the existing system and building infrastructure while augmenting it with more advanced technology.

Throughout the process, The Madrone staff members were able to see the camera views live and maintain security of the buildings.

“Large scale system deployments always have their set of challenges and in providing top tier solutions we want to be as cost-efficient as possible and stay on budget,” says Shawnon Parkinson, founder and president of zettacomm.

“So, we refreshed their network infrastructure and used a combination of Axis video encoders for existing legacy camera feeds, a few existing IP cameras, and Axis multi-sensor cameras,” he says.

The completed solution is managed through Milestone video management software that seamlessly interfaces with The Madrone’s other systems.

“What makes the Axis camera solution so elegant is that it solves our pain points today, so we don’t have to revisit them tomorrow,” says Gustetich. “But the technology is open-ended so we can extend our solution in the future.”

The Madrone Expands Coverage Inside and Out

The Madrone took care to choose cameras that would optimally protect specific areas within the buildings and around the perimeter of the city-block long complex.

Panoramic cameras afforded them multidirectional views from a single IP address, which greatly reduced their licensing fees. For instance, quad-lens cameras provide 360-degree coverage of the parking garage and outside stairways while dual-lens cameras at building entrances capture 180-degree views of people entering and leaving the three condo lobbies.

Pan/tilt/zoom cameras make it easier for security operators to monitor activity at the outdoor venues like the courtyard, pool, jacuzzi, and grill area. Dome cameras enable staff to keep an eye on interior locations like the central mailbox area and hallways leading to individual residences.

Another win for The Madrone was the ability to integrate their legacy elevator cameras into the Axis system using video encoders. This integration allowed them to continue using existing equipment, which helped save on project costs and, more importantly, greatly enhanced the image quality of the cameras.

“Replacing cameras and adding new locations has given our staff a more cohesive view of our property,” says Gustetich.

Cameras are monitored by security in the command center and through mobile devices by security staff on patrol. Engineering staff can log into the system to view problems like water leaks. While lobby ambassadors can screen residents and visitors coming and going from the proper­ties and direct janitorial staff to areas that need service.

Gustetich estimates that the new system saves the complex at least 10 hours a month in administrative labor costs.

“Our staff operates more efficiently, spending far less time trying to document activity and determine responsibility, and that helps us maintain our property as a premier luxury complex,” he says.


Photo courtesy of Axis Communications

Saving Residents from Unplanned Assessments

Typically, condo owners expect their fees to cover refreshing the property from general wear and tear. But when unexpected damage occurs, repairs often necessitate unwelcome assessments.

“With the coverage we’re getting from this upgraded system, we now have recourse to pursue the perpetrator of the damage,” says Gustetich. “That helps keep our monthly assessment down and our insurance rates from going up.”

Gustetich cites an instance where a delivery truck hit the garage gate.

“Replacing the gate would have cost us upwards of $30,000,” he says. “And in the meantime, we needed to hire full-time security guards for several weeks to oversee the garage entrance. But since we had added new cameras to monitor the area, we now had irrefutable footage of the culpable party and were able to bill their insurance company.”

Damage also sometimes occurs on move-in and move-out days.

“One mover put a $4,000 gash in our expensive hallway wallpaper,” says Gustetich. “But since we had video evidence of their actions, we were able to recoup the money from the moving company. Without the cameras, we’d probably spend close to $100,000 a year on these types of issues.”

Because the new cameras provide clear views of the public sidewalk abutting The Madrone, the HOA has been able to avoid costly litigation for events occurring beyond its property line.

“We had an incident where the cameras caught a woman slip and fall on a sidewalk paver in front of our building,” recalls Gustetich. “She was looking to sue us, but the video clearly showed that the incident happened on city property, enabling us to forestall an expensive lawsuit.”

While The Madrone doesn’t run into those kinds of big bill issues frequently, when they happen the cameras deliver the forensic evidence the HOA needs.

“Within four months of flipping the Axis cameras on, we saw a 33% ROI, which is huge,” claims Gustetich. “I wasn’t expecting that kind of payback until at least the end of the first year.”

Gustetich believes that the new camera system is having a positive impact on the complex’s overall valuation.

“The cameras are helping us lower incidents of crime, reduce our operating expenses, as well as maintain a high level of safety and security for our residents,” he says.

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