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Birmingham security camera system to get overhaul

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham’s security camera system is set to get a major overhaul after city commissioners approved a contract with D/A Central to replace the security camera system around city hall and downtown Birmingham and add security cameras to the city’s parking system during their Monday, May 22 meeting.

The Birmingham police department, in coordination with the parking department, has budgeted for a project that will replace the city’s entire security camera system with new cameras and add more cameras in new locations. According to police chief Scott Grewe, the system was first installed in 2001 after the September 11th attacks and is in desperate need of updating.

“The cameras are at the end of their life,” Grewe said, noting that some of the cameras aren’t even functional. Grewe said that the police department, along with the parking department, have been working to budget for the upgrading of the camera system. The cost for the project was budgeted for the next fiscal year at $890,000.

Grewe, along with the city’s parking director Aaron Ford, developed a request for proposals (RFP) in March, asking companies to submit proposals for an overhaul of the camera system that would replace 46 existing surveillance cameras around the city and add 57 new cameras to the city’s parking system.

The city received proposals from six companies and narrowed the proposals down to five based on responses to the city’s request. Commissioners were asked to interview two companies, D/A Central and Security Designs, that Grewe, Ford, IT manager Eric Brunk, services captain Greg Wald and officer Gina Moody had chosen from the remaining five companies.

Included in the meeting packet, Security Designs and D/A Central both offered the Motorola brand products that Grewe and city staff feel would best support the city. Grewe said Motorola allows for the integration of the current police radios, Birmingham school’s camera systems and independent business camera systems.

Security Designs’ proposal, including a 10 percent contingency that the city adds for unexpected costs, came to a total of $659,379, whereas D/A Central’s proposal came to a total of $629,585.

After listening to the presentations given by both companies, commissioner Therese Longe pointed out that there was a discrepancy between the quality of the cameras included by Security Designs and D/A Cameras.

“It would seem like Security Designs' are going to have better resolution over the rest of the city,” Longe said.

Other commissioners felt that D/A Central’s 10-year warranty, experience with municipalities and overall lower cost while still providing the product the police department and parking department are seeking outweighed Security Designs’ systems.

Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve the contract with D/A Central, with Longe voting against the motion.

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