Case Study–Cannabis Grow House in Los Angeles, California

Case Study–Cannabis Grow House

In 2017, a Los Angeles County-based grow house, which will go unnamed for security and privacy reasons, contacted us to design and install a security camera system. One of the partners had a copy of his local security requirements for operating the facility, and so we scheduled a free site inspection to survey the property.

During the site inspection, we notated the general layout of the facility, noted potential security risks, and recommended cameras and placement that would accommodate the project’s budget while meeting or exceeding the minimum security requirements from the state of CA and City of Los Angeles. On the day of the site inspection, their security consisted of a non-security guard camped out in a trailer on a gated driveway, three dogs, consumer-grade doors and locks, and an intrusion alarm system.

The various areas requiring coverage included the entrance, exits, hallways, a large laboratory-style room with expensive lab equipment, several temperature and light-controlled grow rooms, a network/security room with MDF closet where the recorder was to be installed, multiple hallways leading to each of these rooms, and rooftop coverage because of the easy access from a neighboring building.

They required at least 90 days of footage backed up as per California regulations for cannabis industry security systems. We initially recommended a custom-built server running Milestone XProtect Express+ so that we could integrate access control and license plate recognition into Milestone’s smart client. Since this proved to be too much of an upfront cost, and since we estimated 46 pcs cameras out of the 48 pcs limit of Milestone XProtect Express+ (which only leaves room for 2 additional cameras), we decided to offer the next best thing: a Dahua DHI-NVR6A08-64-4KS2 64-channel H.265 RAID NVR and Seagate Enterprise Helium Hyperscale 10TB hard drives in a RAID5 array, which an effective solution for redundant storage in case of a failed drive.

If the customer ever wants to upgrade to the Milestone VMS (video management software), we could program the Dahua 64ch NVR to be used as an encoder, and that would only require 1-4 device licenses for Milestone, as opposed to 46 licenses for individual camera devices. This would give them the legendary Milestone software at just a fraction of the price of licensing individual cameras. They could even opt to use Professional+ or higher instead of Express+, and they can do so in various phases if budgetary limitations are present in the short-term. If no future upgrade is desired, access control and LPR can still be added without integrating either into the VMS. Separate software platforms would be used for access control and for LPR, which is not as ideal as viewing everything from one software platform, but it does help with budgetary constraints.

The utilization of H.265 compression and a large number of high-capacity hard drives allowed for 24-hour continuous recording per CA regulations. Although CA’s minimum requirement is only 720P, we used a combination of mostly 1080P (2.1MP) fixed-lens and 4MP motorized lens vandal-proof dome and bullet cameras to offer better forensic evidence to the partners and security personnel. This is especially useful for smaller-sized high-value inventory such as cannabis plants. Dahua IP camera model numbers included N24BL52/N24BL53, N44BL53, N24BB33, and N45BL5Z.

Various mounting accessories were recommended such as wall mounts and pole mounts, depending on the mounting area and area viewed. Bullet cameras are more capable of turning to the left or right to view parallel to a wall, whereas domes are better used in higher-vandal areas. Vandal activities include turning the camera in another direction, covering the camera, and breaking the camera. It is common for employees to turn non-dome cameras so that they are no longer viewing the desired scene.

We also recommended cameras inside an interlocking door or mantrap where the first door has to be completely closed in order for the second door to be unlocked to open. This would allow for the electric door strikes to be added to these specific doors, making it simple to visually check people you are letting in via the access control interface.

We recommended the Dahua NK8BR4 360-degree 12MP 4K fisheye camera for the lab-style room. This camera offers the ability to do a digital pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ), making it easy to see the entire room without any blind spots. For the roof and other outside areas, we used Starlight-technology cameras, which sees color at nighttime with the ambient lighting provided nearby street lamps. This allows for better identification over older infrared or IR cameras because valuable forensic details such as hair color, clothing color, bag color, and vehicle color can be clearly identified at night, whereas IR cameras can only see in black and white in darkness.

We also recommended IVS (intelligent video system) analytics programming on certain IP cameras to alert the operating partner and security staff when certain events occur. The video analytics programming included line-crossing (also known as tripwire) and intrusion detection. The tripwire programming was recommended on certain rooftop areas so that key personnel can be notified any time anyone jumps onto their roof from a neighboring property. The intrusion detection was setup on certain outdoor perimeter areas so that key personnel can be notified when people are loitering near building entrances for at least ten seconds during late night and early morning non-business hours of 8:00 PM until 8:00 AM.

All recommended cameras were PoE, so we recommended three 16-port PoE switches with Gigabit uplinks. The switches were placed in different parts of the facility to allow for easier wiring to the cameras. Cat5e was ran from each camera to the nearest PoE switch, while the PoE switches were daisy-chained to the NVR with Cat6 cable. One PoE switch was connected to the NVR, while the other two switches were directly connected to the first PoE switch via the Gigabit uplinks and Cat6 cable. Keep in mind, very little bandwidth is consumed using H.265, so there was no concern for exceeding the network or switch capacity or even the NVR’s throughput.

Custom Video Security is the ideal choice for securing cannabis facilities because of our knowledge of equipment and the latest technologies and software, the functionality of cameras and cameras systems, as well as our specific industry-level experience with Cannabis facilities.

Contact us to discuss your cannabis project or request a quote if your project requirements have already been defined. We will research your state’s and local requirements choose the correct equipment for your cannabis facility.

Raymond Shadman2018-11-27

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