Eye on the High Life
Print Issue: July 2018
Nestled in downtown Austin, Texas, The Bowie is a high-rise apartment tower that offers luxury amenities to its residents. "We have the highest price per square foot in all of Texas," notes Timothy Colgan, former general manager at The Bowie. "It's the small touches that set us apart."
The Bowie opened in 2015, and one of its not-so-small touches is the rooftop infinity pool atop the 36th floor. But with high-rise glamour comes the need for heightened security, leading property management to invest in video, Colgan says. That's why when he took over as general manager in the spring of 2017, his first question was whether he could manage the existing video system from his mobile device.
While there were options for mobile access, he found the existing video management system (VMS) difficult to use, and it was burdensome to pull up previously recorded video. "It was an extremely complicated software to navigate, even to go back to view video footage," Colgan tells Security Management.
"It's important to be able to go back and retrieve camera footage if and when it is required, to give you some insight into the before and after," he explains.
Besides having a vested interest in protecting its residents, The Bowie has commercial space on the eighth and ninth floors, so management was concerned about monitoring the nonresidential activity taking place inside the building.
"From a risk management standpoint, probably the most helpful thing you could possibly ask for is camera footage, especially in the event you're filling out an incident report," Colgan notes. "Sometimes bad things do happen and having them on camera, especially elevator footage or pool footage—it can make a world of difference."
The president of Eagle Eye Networks, Ken Francis, was a resident at The Bowie and approached Colgan about possibly installing his company's Eagle Eye Cloud Security Camera VMS. The company manufactures cameras that come equipped with VMS software, which allows users to manage and record video completely in the cloud. Customers have the option to purchase hardware if they want to perform local recording.
For Colgan, having the ability to easily manage the VMS from any smart device appealed to him, as did the quality of the high-definition cameras, which can capture facial details and detect motion.
Several Eagle Eye cameras were strategically installed in and around the property, including at the infinity pool, the parking garage, and the 10th floor rooftop terrace dog park. Users can manage the cameras and footage from an app available on smart devices, as well as from any desktop computer. With the click of a button, users can turn cameras on or off, email videos, adjust camera settings, and manage how long cameras retain video.
"I use that app all day every day, even during my time away from the office," Colgan says, adding that he can grant or restrict access to the platform for employees. "A team member may give me a call and say, 'Hey, take a look at what's happening on the 31st floor—is this a get together that you would like us to break up?'"
The quality of the cameras allows management to clearly make out facial or license plate details and identify persons or vehicles of interest. "One new camera is inside the parking garage, which allows me to see high definition of exiting cars and faces of individuals coming into the garage," Colgan says, adding that he can look up license plate numbers in the property management system. If the vehicle is unauthorized, the towing company is contacted.
From a liability standpoint, key incidents the property wants to capture are slips, trips, and falls, which can happen at any time. "We had a fall incident that took place on the property in an amenities space," he says. When filing the subsequent incident report and insurance claim, he says that having clear video of the event helped prove that the building was not at fault.
"Being able to identify fault is extremely important from a risk management standpoint," Colgan explains. "The camera that witnessed the incident…had recently been replaced by Eagle Eye, and gave us a clear enough shot in the dark to see what actually happened."
Residents at The Bowie have high expectations not for only their security, but also for their privacy, and management uses the Cloud Security Camera VMS to improve their quality of life. Colgan explains that this makes documenting incidents throughout the property even more critical.
"In the elevators, you're in a confined space and unfortunately people don't always behave as you would expect," he notes. "Now we're able to not only see what happens on the elevator, but on the floor to which people are exiting, which helps us to narrow down who the particular person is."
In addition to the elevators, keeping track of activity at the dog park has become a point of concern. "One of the big projects that Eagle Eye helped with was installing three very large dome cameras in the dog park," he says. "We were having trouble with people not picking up after their pets, and we wanted the ability to hold people accountable."
With the dome cameras, everything that transpires in the dog park is captured, and repeat offenders who fail to clean up after their pets are easily identified. The Eagle Eye VMS software has an algorithm that can be programmed to pick up on specific actions, and Colgan says The Bowie will eventually take advantage of that feature to automatically alert when someone doesn't pick up after their dog.
Even for luxury living, security is never a guarantee. But Colgan says having the Eagle Eye Cloud Security Camera VMS gives the residents peace of mind that they're being watched over.
"Crime does not have an address," Colgan says. "But at the end of the day, we have tools in place to try to assist when things do come up. When people come in the building, they can see we have that technology there."
For more information: Deborah Demarchi, [email protected], www.eagleeyenetworks.com, 949.813.6223.