Peace of Mind
One frame at a time
- By Michael Irvin
- Aug 01, 2012
We have all heard of “tightening the belt” in tough economic
times, but few can relate as well as the multitude of private,
not-for-profit organizations that rely on public and private
donations and grants for their annual budget.
Jason Kunda, facility manger at the Employment Opportunity
and Training Center (EOTC) in Scranton, Pa., knows firsthand the economic
uncertainties faced by these groups.
As its name implies, EOTC’s mission is to help individuals gain economic selfsufficiency
while promoting family stability. Integral to the organization’s family
initiatives are parenting programs and child visitations supervised by agency staff.
“We determined a long time ago that we needed additional security for our
staff as well as the individuals and families seeking our services,” Kunda said.
“That security came in the form of cameras and recorders allowing us to keep an
eye on happenings around our building.”
When the initial surveillance system was installed, EOTC was located in an area
of Scranton known for its proliferation of criminal activity.
“Our building at the time was in a very tough neighborhood—one of the toughest
in town,” Kunda said. “With our first system, we determined that we actually
needed eight cameras—four outside and four inside our building—but we could
only afford four cameras at the time, so we sacrificed and decided to put the four
cameras inside so we could keep and eye on who was coming into our building.
Adding cameras to the outside of our facility would have to wait until we received
some additional funding.”
So goes the fluid nature of reliant funding. It would be six years before Kunda
would be able
to expand to a
While it was not feature-
rich, it was well used.
“We were turning over
footage to the police on a regular
basis,” Kunda said. “We were capturing
all kinds of crimes, car accidents,
you name it. I will say that it was somewhat
clumsy to use, but I learned how and was able to
reproduce video, back stuff up, burn it to a DVD
and send it off to whoever needed it.”
In 2011, EOTC was given the opportunity to relocate to a
more spacious facility in a neighborhood less prone to violence
and crime. The new facility, called the Seventh Avenue Center, is
a 20,000-square-foot building housing not only EOTC and its Scranton
Area Family Center, but also three other nonprofit organizations serving the
greater Scranton area.
While the move was well received by staff and area residents, the organization’s
DVR did not fare as well.
“The hard drive started to go out on our existing 16-camera system right before
we made our move,” Kunda said. “It did not like the move at all. The wires
connecting the hard drive came loose and we had to resolder and do all kinds of repairs, yet it would still not give us the playback that we were used to. So we said
it’s time to get a new one. The timing couldn’t have been better because I was told
by our budget office that we had some funding available to help with the transition
to a better system.”
In the world of grant-based funding, there is a term called grant spend-downs.
This is basically a “use-it-or-lose-it” situation related to funding. Toward the end
of a grant period, if there is a surplus of funds identified as security money, those
funds need to be spent or the agency runs the risk that subsequent grants might
be reduced by a corresponding amount. This was the situation that Kunda found
himself in at the time of his move—he needed to replace a failing recorder and had
a new building and tenants that need to be protected.
“This is when I started researching alternative systems,” Kunda said. “I turned
to the CCTV Forum, which I had been a member of since 2009, for recommendations
and suggestions. It was here that an installer out of Vancouver, B.C., by the
name of Matt Ion, who happens to be a moderator on the forum, suggested I look
into 3xLOGIC. He mentioned that he had been installing them for quite some
time and said they’re a really great hybrid system. I trusted his judgment because
he had given me sound advice on other issues in the past.”
This introduction to 3xLOGIC was further enhanced when Kunda had the opportunity
to demo the product, something that the other vendors bidding on his
business did not offer.
“That is what really sealed the deal for me,” Kunda said. “It gave me the opportunity
to get familiar with the product. I would do all kinds of make-believe situations
and drills as if I were doing them at work. Everything seemed so natural and
easy for me to use because it was so Windows friendly, especially SmartSearch.”
The research and feedback he received on the forum also confirmed Kunda’s
strategy to migrate to megapixel IP cameras. Not only would they provide improved
resolution over his existing analog cameras, they would also deliver more coverage
with less cameras, making them a more economically justifiable acquisition.
“We knew that we wanted something with really good resolution,” Kunda said.
“Megapixel cameras would give me the resolution I wanted, but I knew we could
not afford 16 new cameras. We needed to start out slow and then grow into megapixel
Working directly with Brent Warzocha of Albany, N.Y.-based Security Integrations,
Kunda found that 3xLOGIC’s VIGIL PRO-Series Hybrid DVR would
not only protect his current analog camera investments but allow him to incorporate
the latest high-resolution megapixel IP cameras into a unified surveillance
solution that can be accessed and managed on site or remotely using his laptop
or handheld device.
“Sometimes I’ll just check all our cameras real quick from home,” Kunda said.
“Our staff, as well as our tenants and the other agencies in our building, all use the
remote access capabilities. They use the system not only for security purposes—
they rely on it to see when their clients arrive or where they are within the building.”
Incident investigation is another one of the requirements Kunda places on his
surveillance system. Investigating thefts that reportedly took place both inside and
outside EOTC’s headquarters is an-all-too common occurance.
“We had a situation where a client of one of our tenants parked in our parking
lot and apparently left the car door unlocked, and while they were in their appointment,
items were stolen from their car,” Kunda said. “This was an ideal situation
for SmartSearch, where I can put a block on the car and search for motion only in
that area. The search capabilities are so much easier to use than what I was used
to. When you’ve got the police here and they’re standing over your shoulder, you
want to look like you know what you’re doing. SmartSearch goes a long way in
making that a reality.”
While the neighborhood has improved, the need for video surveillance continues.
“It’s peace of mind for the staff, and it’s peace of mind for our tenants,” Kundasaid. “Our staff, as well as the tenants
in our building—the other agencies—
have come to rely on our system. If
they see something illegal outside, they
have the peace of mind to know that
we have a very good system capable of
capturing video and hopefully sending
the message to criminals that we’re not
going to tolerate it. We are going to
deal with it, and we are going to deal
with it real fast. And that’s what the
system allows us to do.”
This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Security Today.