The Magic of P3s

Public private partnerships are finding new ways to help municipalities with safety and security planning and goals

Wohlstetter: With tax revenues declining and many competing priorities, cities struggle to put more police officers on the street, and incurring the salary, health care and pension liability that such new hires entail. Video surveillance makes the existing police officers more effective, both in the areas they can cover and the convictions they can deliver. Officer safety is also enhanced, since officers now know more about the situations they are responding to. Budget cuts also force a city to focus on those services which must be delivered by municipal workers (police, for example) and which services can be delivered more cost-effectively by the private sector. Video surveillance is not a core municipal function, but rather a proprietary function best delivered by the private sector.


Q. How and why should integrators get involved in the very beginning of projects? How does this affect their success rate in winning projects?


Farber: Integrators are better acquainted with the most current technological trends and should keep their clients informed of what is available to better address protection of their assets, personnel and customers at the beginning of each project. Membership in a P3 offers a great networking opportunity. Integrators’ clients’ specific security needs should be addressed completely and not be compromised under any circumstances within reason. If a security issue arises or when a criminal act has been perpetrated, the integrator’s expertise and help may be called upon when LE intervenes. This type of involvement can enhance an integrator’s public profile. The success rate in a winning project will be affected by an ethical business approach, superlative customer service and unencumbered dedication to the project from the very beginning. My own CSO experience with upgrading surveillance and access control at several warehouses started with a carte blanche budget from my CEO. Six integrators were interviewed. Four hadn’t the time nor desire to understand my various security challenges. One came in with numbers that could choke a horse and an unreasonable installation time. The integrator to whom the contract was awarded took the time to fully comprehend the pervasive, criminal subculture I needed to eliminate and respected my needs to collaborate with a professional team of skilled technicians and regularly communicate with them whenever an emergency became apparent.

Jules: We all play by certain procurement rules that dictate how early and how much you can be involved in the beginning. The key is to be asking questions about what they are trying to accomplish. Try to find the best solution for them—sometimes it is yours and sometimes it is not. Agencies talk to one another…even more with the development of these partnerships. The more you are open to working with others within the industry, and open to referring agencies on things that are not within your skill-set, the more people will come back to you for the things that are in your niche. Figure what they are trying to accomplish and offer them as many options as possible.

Murphy: I would not tell many integrators how or why they should get in the door early, which is their business. What I would tell them is that if they can bring added value to the table for the community, their security solution will be much more valuable. If you can turn a $500,000 project into a $1.2 million project, then everyone walks away happier.

Wohlstetter: Integrators are realizing that for a city’s video surveillance network to be functional across departmental silos, there must be a full-service team to address legal, policy, engineering and financial issues. As a result, attorneys, public advocacy firms and other professionals are becoming part of full-service proposals from successful integrators


Q. What can we expect to see in the future?


Farber: From a legal perspective, future P3s will research and appropriately comply with whatever legislation and regulations exist. The PS has the know-how and ability to offer more technical, legal and financial expertise such as procurement capital, equity finance, debt finance, as well as how to efficiently manage successful completion of projects. All involved P3 leaders will be familiar with and fully knowledgeable of project specifics that relate to sources of finance, supply agreements, leased operators, retainers, tariffs, etc.

Jules: One word for the future: Collaboration. We are well beyond agencies being on separate islands. We have to get agencies in surrounding areas to talk to one another. It is shocking how often you have agencies next door to one another who don’t even know each other.

Murphy: I expect a big city to jump on the public-private partnership in municipal video surveillance in the near future. It will be the wave of the future in municipal security.