Portland Nonprofit Upgrades Facility Security with an HD IP Camera System
Since 1992, JOIN PDX has devoted itself to helping Portland’s homeless population by offering housing services and other vital resources from its 12,000 square foot facility. The facility was previously outfitted with a CCTV camera system, but eventually two cameras were stolen, leaving the organization vulnerable to theft and vandalism.
VideoSurveillance.com quickly stepped in to overhaul the building’s security system by donating a vandal-resistant high-definition IP camera system with easy mobile & remote video access.
The new cameras have provided myriad benefits, including but not limited to an increase in staff & guest safety, a reduction in after-hour facility visits, an ability to identify perpetrators on camera, and an inside look at how homeless guests are interacting and behaving on the premises.
- Saves time by reducing onsite visits during closed hours
- Serves as a facility management tool for staff
- Improves identification of misbehaving guests
- Increases employee safety
- Provides peace of mind to staff, clients, and neighborhood residents
- Deters and catches vandals and trespassers
Local Nonprofit Serving Portland’s Homeless Community Hit by Theft & Vandalism
JOIN, a Portland-based nonprofit, offers a multitude of housing services and community resources to the area’s homeless community from its 12,000 square foot facility. The organization’s onsite resource center gives the homeless (kindly referred to as “guests”) a place to stay dry, socialize, gather information, make phone calls, shower, and most importantly, have access to a warm & trustworthy environment where they can receive assistance finding permanent housing.
As a facility open to the public, the safety of the organization’s staff, homeless guests, and surrounding neighborhoods has always been a top priority. Before connecting with VideoSurveillance.com, JOIN had CCTV cameras installed above the front parking lot and back entrance to monitor guests entering and exiting the building. Unfortunately the camera system was beset by poor image quality and physical instability. Soon after they were installed, two of the organization’s parking lot cameras were stolen by unidentified individuals, leaving JOIN vulnerable to ahost of threats.
Even with two functioning cameras left, JOIN was not able to get a clear, discernable picture of incidents like property damage, theft, trespassing, and physical altercations between guests. For example, the person who threw rocks through the facility’s glass windows was caught on tape by one of the outdoor cameras. However, due to the degraded image quality, JOIN’s leadership team, including Shannon Singleton and Will Harris, were unable to identify the person responsible. “Twice we've had people break the windows. The first time we have the person on camera but the quality of the image prevented us from making an identification. The second time the limited scope and field of view did not capture the image we needed,” said Harris.
On top of that, someone had siphoned gas from one of the organization’s vans. “Our old system wasn’t able to capture the whole parking lot, so we couldn’t really use the cameras to catch the perpetrators,” added Harris. The cameras’ low resolution and limited field of view were not enough to provide a clear image of that person.
As a last alternative, JOIN’s director made regular after-hour visits to check in on the facility to inspect the building and property for signs of vandalism or theft. Driving all the way across town to JOIN’s facility became a regular routine.
Associate Director Will Harris and Director of Day Space Services Shannon Singleton were eager to upgrade JOIN’s security efforts, but did not have the budget to install a sophisticated outdoor security system. With local ties to Portland’s nonprofit community, Video-Surveillance.com was informed of JOIN’s situation and wanted to help in any way it could. After speaking with Shannon and Will, and learning more about the JOIN’s services, VideoSurveillance.com was happy to donate a new HD vandal-proof IP camera system.
VideoSurveillance.com Steps in to Help JOIN Revamp Its Security Efforts
VideoSurveillance.com’s team of IP camera experts and installers visited JOIN to inspect the facility’s interior and exterior, and determine the best camera locations by identifying the property’s most vulnerable areas – the front entrance parking lot and the back courtyard. The team closely examined JOIN’s remaining two cameras, recording station, and equipment to gain an understanding of what type of system would work best in this particular environment.
By speaking with Harris and Singleton and conducting its own in-depth security site audit of JOIN’s facility, the IP video specialists designed an outdoor surveillance system featuring a combination of vandal-proof HD IP cameras with weather-proof housing for full-time monitoring, day and night. The system was designed around Milestone XProtect VMS software, a platform for viewing, recording, and managing video.
The HD surveillance system was equipped with the technology and features to meet every one of JOIN’s security needs. With the new system in place, JOIN would not have to worry about the cameras being damaged or tampered with, seeing that each was protected with a damage-proof enclosure.
Beforehand, JOIN was unable to identify details when reviewing past incidents: “The only thing we could make out in the video was the person’s gender — that was it. There was no way to tell who they were,” said Harris.
The system’s four cameras were all equipped with HD resolution, a key component in identifying problematic guests and other illegal or questionable activity on the premises. Without HD resolution, JOIN would have much more difficulty identifying guests when searching video.
Outdoor HD Vandal Domes Paired with Award-Winning Milestone Software
VideoSurveillance.com installed four outdoor HD IP vandal domes on the perimeter of JOIN’s facility, each built a rugged enclosure to withstand physical damage. Two Axis HD vandal domes were mounted above the main parking lot and two Optica D204M 1080p network cameras were installed above the front and backdoor entrance. Their sleek, inconspicuous appearance had made them difficult to spot, so they’re less likely to be targeted by vandals.
Image resolution was a serious issue for JOIN. As mentioned, its previous camera system was not capturing the level of detail needed to identify individuals on video. When designing the new system, VideoSurveillance.com knew that HD resolution would solve the problem. Unique to HD resolution is the superior image quality — video is remarkably sharper and crisper than low-resolution cameras. “With the new cameras, we could actually identify the person,” said Harris.
An Optica D204M 1080p HD network dome was installed at the rear of the facility, overseeing the courtyard with the second mounted underneath the front entrance overhang. The Optica D204M delivers high-end features like wide dynamic range, digital zoom, and low-light sensitivity to record images at night. The camera’s wide field of view captures a wider shot, resulting in a better view of what’s being recorded. The front-area Axis cameras are engineered with HD video resolution and remote zoom to maximize the viewing angle of the front door entrance and main parking lot. Like the Optica camera, the Axis HD domes also provided a wide field of view.
Recording, searching, and viewing video was made possible with a Milestone XProtect Server. Milestone’s best-in-class VMS software is loaded with advanced features to optimize video management and make video investigations quick and easy. The multi-faceted, yet intuitively designed VMS software platform comes with proprietary features to preserve video evidence. Milestone XProtect is capable of managing up to 26 cameras, allowing room for expansion if JOIN decides to add more cameras in the future. Milestone’s interface boasts a sequence explorer tab for quick video searches and a video timeline with highlighted recording, enabling JOIN’s staff to select various recorded clips and view them without scrolling through hours of video. JOIN can also view and manage video on Milestone Mobile Client, a free smartphone app that comes with all Milestone XProtect software.
With the former camera system, it was an exhausting and tedious process to search through recorded video. “We would spend hours reviewing video from our old system. Now it’s so easy to go back and look at video footage,” remarked Singleton.
System Installation and Set Up
VideoSurveillance.com’s IP video technicians pre-configured the system before actually installing the cameras to reduce onsite installation time and disruption. The integration support team conducted burn-in testing to ensure all equipment operated at peak performance before installing the system.
Once the new system was designed and pre-congfigured, VideoSurveillance.com sent in its team to JOIN’s facility to install the new cameras. VideoSurveillance.com made certain that the cameras’ FOV was correct by checking the live camera feed with Milestone’s VMS software. The cameras’ lens and zoom level were adjusted accordingly to ensure a broad and unobstructed view of the scene.
After camera installation was completed, VideoSurveillance.com set up and configured the Milestone server and XProtect VMS software. A tutorial was given to JOIN’s staff to ensure they were comfortable navigating the platform from a desktop computer and smartphone device. Singleton was extremely pleased with the Milestone software tutorial: “VideoSurveillance.com made it really easy to understand — they explained it well.”
VideoSurveillance.com also showed the staff how to access video through Milestone Mobile Client, a free mobile monitoring app designed for smartphones and tablets. The mobile video app has already saved the organization hours of time by reducing the need for after-hour visits
JOIN Sees Immediate Benefits with New System
The donated system has helped resolve a number of incidents, as well as shed light on the needs and behavior of the organization’s guests. Soon after the system was installed, one of the guests was captured on camera stealing another guest’s bike. The staff was able to identify who had stolen the bike, and speak with that person. As a result, the guest was temporarily suspended from using JOIN’s services and the bike was returned to the original owner.
The outdoor cameras’ day/night recording also caught a guest breaking facility rules by sleeping in JOIN’s courtyard overnight. Thanks to HD resolution and a wider FOV, JOIN was able to identify the person and provide him with additional housing assistance. The new outdoor system will allow JOIN to pinpoint guests who need more help finding permanent housing or other items like blankets or bikes. “The cameras act as a spatial management tool,” said Harris. “We’re not going to go to the police in cases like this — we’re going to talk to the person.”
JOIN has saved a tremendous amount of time with the new system. Instead of traveling to the facility during closed hours to canvass the property for trespassers, signs of damage, or any other activity that warrants an immediate response, the staff can view live video of the facility right from a smartphone with Milestone’s mobile app.
Another benefit the system has provided is the overall peace of mind that it brings to both guests and staff. Even though the facility closes at 3pm, many of JOIN’s employees work later into the evening. When exiting the building to leave for the night, employees feel a greater sense of safety knowing that the cameras are there and recording at all times.
Overall, JOIN’s staff and management team have been extremely satisfied with the system’s performance and benefits. “The cameras provide an impartial third-party picture of what’s going on — and that’s very important to us,” said Singleton. “We can’t thank VideoSurveillance.com enough for donating the new system.”