The camera cabling drops in many locations exceeded 3,000 feet. We were amazed that the prior contractor would install a system in a manner that exceeded acceptable standards by such a large degree. We shortened the drops; installed weatherproof electric housings able to withstand the salt air and slowly each camera came alive. The property sits on one of the highest points on Long Island facing the north, overlooking the sound, a harsh environment with high winds coming across open water mixed with corrosive salt air.
Blueprints of the existing installation did not exist so World Wide technicians used a propriety software program to accurately geo-locate devices on the property. We utilized this program for tagging cameras back to the guard booth that would become the property’s working command center. From there we proceeded to the tunnels fixing wires in order to bring more power to the lines leading to the cameras. We relied on both the curator and the groundskeeper to guide us to each camera, some of which were very remote and covered with plant growth or years of grime.
Our technicians also had to take precautions. Some of the areas needing the most surveillance were abandoned and condemned. Safety procedures such as hard hats, harnesses and respirators were used. Tight crawl spaces also posed a problem, resulting in one technician getting stuck for a short period of time. Our safety procedures also included two-man teams and long-range communications as the area did not have strong cellular signals.
There are many areas of this museum complex completely off limits to the public due to historical importance. Items so delicate their existence is in constant danger of complete disintegration that we had to take extraordinary care in these areas. The mansion and grounds had been host to many heads of state and is a treasure trove of important documents as well as artwork spanning over 100 years of U.S. history. Amazing discoveries included a near pristine working example of a photoelectric burglar alarm system from the 30s. Little attention was paid to high-tech security by the wealthy until after the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932. This event inspired the Vanderbilts to install a perimeter security system at each terrace opening, still visible today.
The lessons we learned during the execution of the project no one wanted was the dedication that went into making every component work and became a labor of love. We were thrilled our hard work paid off as everything came online when the wiring was complete. Much of the work took place outside or in crawl spaces and luckily this past winter was mild in New York. Our crews worked there on-and-off for months and still continue to tweak the old system when something goes down. Only a couple of cameras in the end did not work and these will be replaced in the next working phase of the project World Wide was awarded. It was a long process and we came out knowing we could do this all over again.