A PDF version of this article is available with the intension to be shared and distributed to Property Management and Condo Board and Strata Board. The PDF is available as: Security Cameras – What yo You Need To Know.pdf

Security cameras for Multi-Family Buildings have come a long way in recent years.

How safe is your building?

Security cameras are now commonplace in multi-family buildings in Calgary. Property managers, condo boards, and building owners require video documentation to accompany police reports and security incidents and to support sanctions for residents violating rules.

Upgrading and Expanding Existing Systems.

There have been significant improvements in the quality of camera systems over the last decade. In many cases, existing equipment can be maintained while additional cameras can be added. Replacing selected cameras will improve the image quality and low light, nighttime performance. The video recorders tend to be designed for a maximum number of cameras and when that number is exceeded, the video recorder is simply replaced with a model that supports more cameras. Often the existing cameras can stay in place ensuring that costs remain manageable.

Common Camera Locations

There are standard positions for cameras in most multi-family buildings. These include:

  • Garbage Room
  • Parkade Entrances and overview of the parking area.
  • Both inside and outside of the main entrance.
  • Postal area.
  • Laundry area
  • Other amenities like gym, patios, and community rooms.

Camera Placement

When placing cameras on a property, the first step is to determine the area that will be monitored. Cameras can be set up to capture an overview of a large area to see the movement of persons and vehicles or to monitor a small area like an entrance or elevator. In most cases, they cannot be used for both. Particularly for police purposes, the footage will need to capture the face of the violator. Troublemakers know this and often wear hoodies and hats with large brims to hide their faces. Cameras need to be mounted at a near-head height to capture faces. This contrasts placement to capture a broad area, where the cameras are mounted much higher.

Special Features

Built-in Strobe and Siren – Camera systems can now include strobe lights and sirens built in so that when an area is violated, the intruder is warned away from the area.
Extreme low light – The new cameras tend to perform better at nighttime and where there is very little light available.
High Resolution – Some cameras have an extreme resolution to provide much better images on footage where zooming in is desirable
Body temperature – When persons running a fever are encountered, alarms can be activated to protect the building from sickness
Facial Recognition – Identifying common persons in an area and particularly new faces not encountered before can be identified for audit purposes.
License Plate Readers – Specialty cameras can identify and transcribe license plates of vehicles

Accessing Footage

In most cases, buildings have an internet connection. This is not required but makes accessing live footage from the cameras on your smartphone available and convenient. For those who don’t live at the building, the internet allows them to access the footage remotely and even search and download footage onto a USB drive for police or documentation.

Cameras can also be viewed on dedicated screens or a computer at the building. When there is Shaw cable available, they can enable a “Lobby Camera” feature and dedicate a cable tv channel to the video cameras in the building. This helps engage the building’s community to keep an eye on strangers who may be violating the policies of the building.

Historical Archiving of Footage.

On basic systems, video footage is archived for a few days before its overwritten. This is restrictive as footage needs to be reviewed and extracted quickly and when it is not, the footage is lost. Most systems allow this archive period to be extended by increasing the storage drives within the video recorder. Most condo boards require a minimum of 30 days of archived footage and most prefer 60-90 days. Additionally, the archive period can be extended by lowering the resolution of stored video and by using camera features to only capture video while there is a movement within the frame.

Integration with Building Access

When digital FOB keys are used in the building to release doors and grant access, camera systems can often be integrated with the building access. This makes it very convenient when documenting access or security issues at an entrance. Video footage related to the access event when a door has been opened can be tied to the camera and time of footage so there is a video documentation of who used the credential to gain access to the building.

Incorporation of Door Intercoms.

Many buildings now have door intercoms at the main entrance to grant access to guests of building residents and these door intercoms often have cameras built into them. These cameras can be integrated into a security camera recorder so the footage can be stored and retrieved with the other footage on the property.

A Final Word

The safety, security, and quality of life for residents in Multi-family Buildings are essential considerations for property managers and condo boards. A well-maintained, camera system provides security and convenience to residents in a cost-effective way. To buyers, this often equates to a more attractive building, with higher satisfaction for residents and better selling prices for unit-holders.

Want to discover more about how HELIA can help improve the security and safety of your building? HELIA is here to answer any questions or provide additional detail you need on upgrading or servicing your current Multi-family building alarms, intercoms, cameras or other security-related technology. Contact us to arrange for your free in-building consultation.

About HELIA Infrastructure

HELIA has been an infrastructure company in Alberta since 2006. We provide service, install and support for most brands of cameras, intercoms, building access fobs, and sensors for Multi-family Buildings. We’re happy to provide a free statement-of-work with pricing for installation or replacement for the technology infrastructure in your Multi-family Buildings.

For more information:Phone: (403) 455-9966Email: smart@helia.caWebsite: https://smart.helia.ca