Preserving a security system’s integrity during upgrades requires a tactical approach

Military organizations must weigh risks and opportunities when partnering with A&E firms

The client obtained a camera with the features it needed. The result: a capital savings with reliable product support, and the client was able to reduce the size of their cabling costs as the video could be retrieved directly at the camera when needed. This feature was popular with many clients and resulted in the manufacturer’s product gaining a competitive advantage for a short period of time. Now local storage is common in many fixed cameras.
Control Project Costs
New technologies, such as the SMF cable described above, frequently cost less, sometimes as much as 20 percent less, than the older, “tried and true” technologies. Why doesn’t the military project leader hear about these from his IT specialists? Some technology providers can become overly comfortable with the products that they typically install, and they have an added incentive. As their sales volume increases and their associated cost decreases, their profits increase.

As a result, many military customers think their technology options are limited to the older, more conventional products. Moreover, their natural tendency is to question the reliability and cost of newer options. Why not let someone else test it first and make all the mistakes?

One high-ranking government official had used a particular surveillance technology vendor for years assuming they were the sole provider of his desired solution. He was unaware of advancements over the last two years and that different elements of existing technology could be combined to provide a lower cost solution with more features and improved performance.

Understandably, he was initially skeptical about a new technology, knowing his previous choice had been an expensive investment. But new technology had dramatically reduced the cost of his required feature primarily because of its application in non-military venues, which form a much larger market. When the official was informed that the project could be completed within budget, he was skeptical and as a result requested several Beta test projects--which were highly successful.

Then when he learned that the new technology cost 50 percent less than the old, he broadened the scope of the project. In the end, the engineer, who was not selling a particular manufacturer, was able to provide a solution that reduced the overall cost of the project.

SSOE, the system expert/vendor in this example, provided references showing that the technology was already working well in another branch of government. The official, finally convinced, vetted the new technology and it met his performance criteria. It has since been installed at 10 locations, and additional expansion is planned.

Planning an upgrade to smarter and more cost-effective technology requires an expert understanding of a facility’s current system and its future security needs. The military engineer must also be willing to consider the benefits of adopting new solutions that provide greater coverage at the same cost as, or at a lower cost than the existing deployment.

This includes the option of a custom design, which may seem like additional cost, but actually bring an otherwise unaffordable feature set within budgetary parameters. Finally, the planner must manage indirect costs by engaging an engineering firm that integrates a holistic security assessment, proper design, performance specs, and a cost-effective purchasing strategy. By making the system configurable for tomorrow’s advances in security technology, the planner also makes it smarter while increasing the overall coverage and responsiveness of the facilities.

About the authors:

Jim Otte, NICET IV, is a Data / Fire / Security Specialist at SSOE Group (, an international engineering, procurement, and construction management firm. With over 25 years of experience, Jim specializes in the engineering and design of complex data, fire, security, sound, and telecommunications networks. In addition he has expertise in commissioning, threat analysis, project and contract management, and quality control. He can be reached in SSOE’s Toledo, Ohio office at 419.255.3830 or by email at

Mike Duffey, PE, is a Principal and Director of Federal Programs at SSOE Group (, an international engineering, procurement, and construction management firm. Mike, a civil engineer with nearly three decades of experience, has specialized in facility and site planning, design, and construction. He is a retired Lt Colonel and Unit Commander with the Air National Guard and a former Base Civil Engineer responsible for all programming, planning, design and construction. He can be reached in SSOE’s Toledo, Ohio office at 419.255.3830 or