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Subject: Security Cameras - Pros and Cons
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LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


03/22/2019 6:35 PM  
This discussion started off in a different thread...some people thought it would be interesting and useful on it's own sooooo

In my neighborhood a few years ago we had one of our annual crime waves so we did a survey to find out how the community feels about security cameras. Some people love them, and some don't but we definitely did not have a majority that was for them.

Last year we had a another wave, the previous board uni-laterally decided to get a camera, without getting input from the community first and our assessment doubled at the same time. A lot of people were not happy. Because it was a contentious issue with a lot of different opinions I would have pushed for allowing the community to vote on this.

In my own research on them, outside of the marketing hype from the camera manufacturers there seems to be mixed empirical evidence on their efficacy. Opinions from people and board members from various communities seem to reflect that as well.

Some people think they are as good as buying insurance. Others have privacy concerns and there are the people who don't think they work. So what are other peoples stories, opinions etc.? Did you install them and did they actually reduce crime? Do you hate them etc.?
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3441


03/22/2019 7:05 PM  
Well, I realize every situation is different, but you dont need to break the bank.

Yi cameras are only $25 each for 1080p. Free instant alerts and rolling storage on the sd card. when it fills up, it deletes the oldest clip. Outdoor housing is available for $10 per case. You typically dont need months of footage, just review it as bad things happen.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8768


03/22/2019 9:20 PM  
May I add that it really doesn't matter public opinion. What matters is the Court/police opinion. Is the footage admissible in court? Would it allow the police to press charges? Is it good enough to find the offenders?

The purpose of having camera's are to prevent crime or identify who did the crime. Prevention only happens if announced and makes one fearful of being caught not to commit the crime. Not all criminals care.

Identifying the criminal and then pressing charges is a whole new issue for your HOA. Who has the right to video footage? If it's not a crime against the HOA, do you give the individual who is a copy? If the crime is against the HOA, does it press charges? How will that work?


Security camera footage is mostly helpful for identifying and proof. The crime has already been committed. What are the laws about use of camera's for your area and can the footage be used in court? That would be what my concerns would be.

Former HOA President
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:840


03/22/2019 9:32 PM  
Each and every level of security you add to your community makes your community less attractive to the criminal element.

Cameras are a great option and you don't have to break the bank either. And No, cameras are not an invasion of privacy in public common areas.
LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


03/22/2019 10:03 PM  
If its just the appearance of security that is needed to help deter criminals, a few visible dummy cameras would have done the trick for a lot less money.....and would have been a lot less controversial......
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:461


03/23/2019 6:48 AM  
Lance,
I am confused in your earlier post in the other thread on "Social Committees" you said your dues has doubled from $150 a year to $300. In this post you mention Camera not Cameras or Camera system. Things are not adding up for me. Please help so that we can give our best opinions.

The people who think this is controversial do they go to Wal Mart, the Grocery store or Gas Stations? Cameras are everywhere and it is said that the average person who is outside is almost always being recorded. Part of the deterrent is to have signage notifying everyone that the area is under video surveillance. Dummy Cameras are just that Dumb. Even dumb criminals can tell that they are none working fakes. It always makes me crazy how people who are not doing anything wrong care about this stuff. It is to catch the person who damages your property.

The camera or cameras will not be maned by a guard watching ever persons moves. That does happen at Wal Mart and Target and other major stores. Remind your skeptical HOs not to very go in there again.
EdC5
(Florida)

Posts:114


03/23/2019 6:51 AM  
I'm going to come at this from a manager's point of view.

I've managed properties with cameras and properties without. Those that put in cameras did so for "security" reasons; I find that generally these are a good idea if the community has more than just basic amenities (work best if the community has a clubhouse, pool, etc.). What I don't recommend is tying the camera system into the internet. One community I worked did this and the board members (apparently) spent all their free time (and they were retired so "free time" was in abundance) watching the employees. The trivial complaints from these board members about the employees' use of time got so bad (and thereby wasting MY time) that the internet tie-in some how "went down" for an extended period of time.

To wrap up this diatribe, I am in favour of cameras in common areas, there is a video record of incidents on the association property in case of claims of injury (and I've been through more of those than I care to count), theft, etc.

Edward J Cooke, CMCA, LCAM
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3383


03/23/2019 12:33 PM  
Posted By LanceG1 on 03/22/2019 10:03 PM
If its just the appearance of security that is needed to help deter criminals, a few visible dummy cameras would have done the trick for a lot less money.....and would have been a lot less controversial......

Our attorney told us that deploying dummy cameras would be a really bad idea.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6735


03/23/2019 1:40 PM  
Right, do not use dummy cameras as they could give your residents a false sense of security; it's not advised. Ask your insurance rep for confirmation.

We're twin towers on a city block in an urban area. So we have a lot of cameras aimed at our perimeter sidewalks, exteriors entrances to our two lobbies and at the driveway gated entrance w/kiosk to underground parking. We have a fair amount viewing the pool/spa area, in our elevators and a pedestrian hallway that opens to the sidewalk. We have 24/7 security officers to monitor the screens.

We think they do deter misbehavior among residents at the pool and would definitely help us identify resident who, say, jumped the fence into the pool area. They've been effective twice to see who caused (minor) damage in elevators.

There should be NO expectation of privacy in common areas.

GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3383


03/23/2019 2:17 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 03/23/2019 1:40 PM
Right, do not use dummy cameras as they could give your residents a false sense of security; it's not advised. Ask your insurance rep for confirmation.

Exactly. Conveying a false sense of security is something to avoid. It sets expectations and reasonable expectations can often be sticking points in litigation and, presumably, insurable liability.
LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


03/23/2019 3:20 PM  
That is good to know with the dummy cameras.

OK, let me give you a detailed rundown of how our camera situation came to be....this is going to be long, so bear with me here .

Our hoa is 130 homes, and had been in existence for over 10 years. It only turned over to the homeowners a few years ago. It is un-gated with two entrances. The county maintains all of the streets, sewer etc.. For "common" areas it only has a small waking trail, two entrance signs (one at each entrance) and some undeveloped natural forest which is zoned to remain un-developed. Assessments up until this year were at $150 per year.

Since the community began, because we are in a higher crime metro, you get small periodic rashes of crime. Usually that means once a year you will get a couple of car break ins and once every few years something larger would happen. IE: a home break in. Whenever that happens we get the police involved, and usually hold a community meeting. Whenever that happens you get a small group of vocal people calling for extra security. Everything from cameras to gating the community. The gates, incidentally would require that the HOA take over maintenance of the roads, sewer, water etc. and increase our dues 10 to 20 times over....just as an FYI.

A few years ago, a survey was done after one of these incidents about the possibility of putting in some cameras at the entrance and even after that we only had about 33% that were in favor of them.

OK, so in June last year we had an incident where somebody came home late at night, was followed into their driveway, held up at gunpoint and had their car high jacked. We had a community meeting with the chief of police, who shared the crime statistics etc.. Also, at that meeting, the county DA was present and had (unsolicited) invited a camera vendor to give a talk about their product.

In July of last year, there was a small, informal meeting about security and the board asked them to form a committee and present ideas. At the time the board asked for options etc. for security cameras from the community as well. Interest in the security died down and nobody did anything with it.

Then in September a person close to the board leaked on a HOA website that the dues were going to go up from $150 a year to $250 a year. That message was quickly removed, but some of us saw it.

Then it was announced that the board has chosen a vendor (the one who was invited by the DA) for cameras and signed a contract for them for one year. At that point a lot of residents felt blind-sided by this and asked why this hadn't been discussed with the community. This particular one charges you a fee on a per year basis and then provides the HOA with the cameras and a portal to monitor them.

The installation of the cameras was another issue. In order to install the cameras a suitable locations in the community they needed to get easements from homeowners at both entrances of the community because they needed to be put on homeowners individual lots, not common property. When the contracts had been signed easements had not been granted. After a month our secretary sent out a message stating that they had the proper easements on one side of the neighborhood but on the other side people were not responding and they were looking for alternatives along with a side note (this was in writing) that they felt it was a shame that some people didn't want to grant the easements for the good of the community.

That message created some discussion on our official public chat group, including some expressing concern about the board publicly shaming owners for not wanting to grand easements. Both myself and others brought up the $150 - $250 per year increase that was mentioned along with this. At that point the secretary told us that an increase had not been decided on and to please not spread false rumors.

After another month, the cameras were installed. Then in December an official announcement came out from the board about the assessments and the increase was actually increasing from $150 to $300 a year. The cameras accounting for 1/3rd of the increase.

As luck would have it, the company that was providing the cameras contacted me about possibly doing some work on their product, so I went in and had a chance to see things behind the scenes. After speaking with them I decided to turn down the work for a number of reasons. I also saw some things (not under any kind of NDA etc.) while talking with them than concerned me about the reliability and effectiveness of the product. The biggest one was what the cameras are mounted at about 5 to 6 feet high and have a easily accessible switch that will power them down. AKA, someone could walk up to the cameras and disable them.

At this point I was not a board member, elections had not taken place and I shared all of this information with the community.

Then in mid January, we had a board meeting. At the meeting the secretary stated that we could get out of the contract with a 60 day notice for the cameras if we wanted to. Elections happened I got on the board and had a chance to see the contract. The contract for the cameras is actually 2 years not one and there is no cancellation clause. The contract also does not have any damages/penalties specified for an early breach and according to our lawyer we could probably cancel it without penalty if we ever wanted to early .....and the sales guy said that they could cancel early but... Anyhow I motioned to update the community with the actual status of that and it went through.

One other thing to note, this is probably the most cost effective solution if your going to have cameras but there are drawbacks etc., it went with a dues increase and given the controversial nature of it among the residents it may nor may not have had a majority of homeowners in support of it. Based on the previous poll etc. it probably didn't

Anyhow this is how they came to be in our community.
AmyA1
(Washington)

Posts:101


03/24/2019 8:24 AM  
We love our cameras and they have proven to be an asset. They cover our clubhouse parking lot, playground and RV storage area. We worked with the police on placement of camera's to make sure that no private homes showed up and the system we used would be admissible in court.
We and the police have caught drug deals happening in the parking lot/playground area and have turned information over to the police dept. which helped them convict the people. We had someone run into the gate for our RV storage, and had it on tape to show the person and they paid to have it fixed. One morning we saw someone had driven through our playground area. No damage was done other than tire marks. We didn't need to call the police since we could see that it was a police chase. LOL Yes, they did ask for a copy.
Boy this thread makes it seem like we are high crime. But just a couple of "bad" homes can have a huge impact on the community as a whole.

ND
(PA)

Posts:376


03/25/2019 8:02 AM  
Unless your governing documents explicitly state that the HOA is responsible for security within the HOA (much like it probably says the HOA is responsible for maintenance of common areas, e.g., landscaping contract), I think you'd be hard pressed to find real justification that would legally permit the Board to collect money in the form of an assessment and spend it on camera installation/recording/monitoring. There's probably some vague verbiage that could be improperly used as justification for what was done . . . but it would take legal review to determine one way or the other.

As one poster discussed, unless you have tangible assets belonging to the HOA like a clubhouse, pool, equipment . . . then cameras owned/operated by the HOA are unnecessary and an overall bad idea.

If individual owners want to increase security (cameras, alarms, lighting, deadbolts, guard dog, remote monitoring, etc.) in and around their homes, then that is completely their choice (IAW what docs allow) and the expense will be only theirs. And those that don't feel increased security is necessary will not be burdened with the expense of it.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1531


03/25/2019 3:19 PM  
I completely disagree with ND.

The Board is well within their job tasking and responsibility and authority to spend money on security for the neighborhood.

The amount of stuff the neighborhood owns is irrelevant.
LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


03/25/2019 7:08 PM  
Lots of differing opinions here.

The same is true in our community, and unlike some of the posters here ours did not get the cameras to protect assets owned by the HOA (because it doesn't have buildings etc to protect). This is why I suggested that we do a community survey/vote in the future for controversial/contentious issues such as this. Legally the board doesn't need to (in our community), but it puts things back on the owners to decide vs a (often) vocal minority.



MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:461


03/25/2019 8:10 PM  
Lance,
You are beating a dead horse here. You have heard everyone's suggestions and
you made up your mind before your original post. You are looking for validation. When you do a survey you will find the same issue. People have different opinions and some will never agree because they just won't. Being a board member means you have to make decisions that others have elected you to make. They did not elect you to stick your finger in the air and see which way the wind is blowing at this moment.

You have a board that is also part of this process so I am assuming you are only 20% of the decision making process. Take a vote and move on to the next issue.
RichardP13


Posts:0


03/25/2019 8:20 PM  
IF you are a un-gated community of 130 detached homes, you should have cameras ONLY for assets and common elements within the complex.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1531


03/25/2019 8:33 PM  
Richard,

Why just for those components?

Why not broad after the fact identification of vehicles potentionally related to crime against members of the community?
RichardP13


Posts:0


03/25/2019 8:45 PM  
Much different set of responsibilities when living in a condo/townhome from a single family detached home.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1531


03/26/2019 5:43 AM  
I would think COAs would want cameras for parking areas, drive-in areas, dark areas, parking garage structures, etc.

Since these are public, there are no privacy concerns, right?
AugustinD


Posts:2096


03/26/2019 6:49 AM  
Many studies indicate a correlation between property values and crime. Even in an ungated community of stand-alone homes, I think a board voting for an appropriately designed and priced camera security system, with the intent of capturing among other things, all vehicles entering and leaving through the HOA's entrances, is doing its job. I'm with GeorgeS21 and the several others here supporting such a security system. After a couple of years, if the system does no seem to be helping, it may always be eliminated.
ND
(PA)

Posts:376


03/26/2019 8:38 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 03/25/2019 8:33 PM
Richard,

Why just for those components?

Why not broad after the fact identification of vehicles potentionally related to crime against members of the community?



Because broad neighborhood "security" is not the responsibility of the HOA (unless explicitly stated as HOA responsibility in the documents). The HOA is responsible for maintaining the collectively-owned, common facilities. Individual owners are responsible for their own property and can provide for their own security if they deem it to be necessary.

What happens when the HOA's system of "security" fails to prevent a crime or fails to provide evidence that a crime was committed to a specific victim within the HOA? I suspect you'll have a lot of questions from that victim and potentially find yourself with legal and liability issues that you wouldn't have had if you hadn't inappropriately taken charge of neighborhood "security".

If the Board can substantiate spending HOA funds on "security" when not permitted to do so IAW the documents . . . where does it end? One Board thinks "security" is a necessity, the next Board thinks installing a basketball court is priority, etc., etc., etc. Board's can't just spend money on their priority items and then assess owners for those expenses. Just because a Board thinks it's a good idea, doesn't mean that it is. If; however, the collective opinion (quorum) of the owners also think it's a good idea and commit to spending money on such, that's a completely different situation.
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:461


03/26/2019 9:09 AM  
ND,
The Board is elected by the Owners to make decision for the Homeowners. It is that simple. If you do not like the decisions they make as a group you vote them out.
RichardP13


Posts:0


03/26/2019 9:40 AM  
Sorry, it's not that simple. I have involved in a few of these situations. Let's say the cameras cost a minimum of $25K, because most likely it's over the 5% threshold for a capital improvement with the Board acting on their own, it goes to the owners for a vote. Who is going to monitor the system? You're going to put cameras in a non-gated community, possibly on public? That sound pretty reckless. The association I lived in spent $35K installing a system and it one of the biggest mistakes they have made. And if it doesn't seem to work, trash it. Now that's a novel idea!
ND
(PA)

Posts:376


03/26/2019 9:51 AM  
Posted By MarkM19 on 03/26/2019 9:09 AM
ND,
The Board is elected by the Owners to make decision for the Homeowners. It is that simple. If you do not like the decisions they make as a group you vote them out.



You couldn't be more incorrect. And if that's your position as a Board Member, then good luck to you. Your statement would be more correct as follows . . .
The Board is elected by the Owners to make decision for the Homeowners IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DOCUMENTS OF THE HOA.

Boards cannot simply spend HOA money willy nilly on whatever they deem to be necessary. Spending the HOA's money on something needs to be sufficiently justified by the documents or owners must authorize the collection and spending of their money for a specific purpose (IAW the documents). If you stretch the intent of some verbiage of the documents to permit the HOA to spend money on "security" for the HOA, then be ready for some type of backlash (the extent of which will be discovered later).
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8911


03/26/2019 10:05 AM  
Posted By ND on 03/26/2019 9:51 AM
Posted By MarkM19 on 03/26/2019 9:09 AM
ND,
The Board is elected by the Owners to make decision for the Homeowners. It is that simple. If you do not like the decisions they make as a group you vote them out.



You couldn't be more incorrect. And if that's your position as a Board Member, then good luck to you. Your statement would be more correct as follows . . .
The Board is elected by the Owners to make decision for the Homeowners IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DOCUMENTS OF THE HOA.

Boards cannot simply spend HOA money willy nilly on whatever they deem to be necessary. Spending the HOA's money on something needs to be sufficiently justified by the documents or owners must authorize the collection and spending of their money for a specific purpose (IAW the documents). If you stretch the intent of some verbiage of the documents to permit the HOA to spend money on "security" for the HOA, then be ready for some type of backlash (the extent of which will be discovered later).




I agree.
LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


03/26/2019 10:25 AM  
There are two issues at play here.

#1 Some of us have a philosophy of the board being to serve the interests of the residents by going to them for input on controversial issues. Others have the opinion that once the board is elected they can do what they think is best even if the community is against it etc.. My own personal ethics are such where I do not feel I am doing the right thing by the community by doing something that I think is right, but the majority disagree with. So Mark etc. we will have to agree to disagree on that philosophical point. Legally for many HOA both styles are legal, but that point is a contentious issue and comes down to personal leadership philosophy and style.

#2 Now, lets circle back to the cameras.

a. I heard some reasonable points for having them to monitor common areas owned buy the HOA. Beyond security it sounded like there were some cases were they could be used to fairly enforce rules while using these common areas. It also sounds like there is not as much controversy with that application.
b. When you have an un-gated community with no real common areas it sounds like there is a bit more controversy and not as much consensus. The arguments for are because they reduce crime and if crime is reduced that will increase home values.

Does it reduce enough crime to pay for the system? Will it prevent crime? Did anybody install cameras and have a noticeable decrease in neighborhood crime?

Below are some studies I've run across. The results seem to be mixed and seem to be contingent on proper application of them when they do reduce crime. The reductions however seem to be below 50%. Has anybody else come across some other interesting studies that show results one way or the other?

Here is one study on the Ring doorbells that showed no correlation between cameras and reduced crime (full disclosure, I have a Ring).
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612307/video-doorbell-firm-ring-says-its-devices-slash-crimebut-the-evidence-looks-flimsy/

and here is another one that says that they do help.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/03/29/crime-busting-video-doorbell-ring-expands-clones-undercut-price/99677840/

This one seems to show some correlation depending on what it is used for.
https://www.mtas.tennessee.edu/knowledgebase/there-empirical-evidence-surveillance-cameras-reduce-crime

This one shows a modest amount of improvement.
https://cebcp.org/evidence-based-policing/what-works-in-policing/research-evidence-review/cctv/

This one seems to indicate that they are effective if you have a lot of them.
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/27556/412403-evaluating-the-use-of-public-surveillance-cameras-for-crime-control-and-prevention_0.pdf

Effective if monitored correctly, otherwise they are not
https://popcenter.asu.edu/sites/default/files/library/crimeprevention/volume_10/05-Phillips-CCTV_Evaluations.pdf
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1531


03/26/2019 11:35 AM  
Security system is a bit of misnomer ... in reality, these are surveillance systems.

And, again, I would feel very comfortable voting to install reasonably priced, thoughtfully designed surveillance camera systems in my neighborhood - as long as no laws were violated.
RichardP13


Posts:0


03/26/2019 12:20 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 03/26/2019 11:35 AM
Security system is a bit of misnomer ... in reality, these are surveillance systems.

And, again, I would feel very comfortable voting to install reasonably priced, thoughtfully designed surveillance camera systems in my neighborhood - as long as no laws were violated.



EVEN if half the community weren't going to be paying for them?
LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


03/26/2019 1:50 PM  
I would love to know if there is more solid data one way or the other.

IE: What is the return on investment likely to be for the community without amenities? Based on other communities is it likely to reduce crime by 20%, 60% or 100%. Does is only make it easier for the police to catch criminals after the fact or does it do a bit of both etc.?

Also, going under the assumption that some installations might not be effective, what are the ones that are most likely to be effective? Does a large area including outside the neighborhood need to be covered? Should you have a camera every 100 feet on the street? In every cul-de-sac etc. to be effective?
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16555


03/26/2019 7:00 PM  
Posted By LanceG1 on 03/26/2019 1:50 PM
I would love to know if there is more solid data one way or the other.

IE: What is the return on investment likely to be for the community without amenities?




I would think that this can't be quantified.

To me, cameras either give peace of mind or don't.
Cameras can also lead to concerns big brother is watching, or not.

Since the return would be subjective, it really can't be quantified.

If the cameras are properly placed and of good quality, they should be helpful in aiding police to catch those who are breaking the laws.
I do not think cameras actually stop crime.
ND
(PA)

Posts:376


03/27/2019 4:26 AM  
What Tim said . . . except I personally think that cameras would be a deterrent to crime . . . won't prevent all crime but will prevent more than if they were not present. Someone mentioned cameras in WalMart isles. I don't think WalMart would spend big bucks installing cameras throughout their stores as well as specific ones with small screens in certain isles (cosmetics, medicine, etc) without being confident that they would help initially to prevent theft. It's probably simpler, cheaper, and easier to prevent product from being stolen in the first place than to try later on to track down the person that stole it.

Unless you're in some sort of high-crime area where you could realistically track occurrences of crime pre and post camera install, or unless you're tracking crime over decades, you aren't going to get the kind of data that factually proves one way or another a camera's effect on crime.

And whatever data/studies you may find online to prove your stance on cameras, you'll probably find just as many that prove the opposing stance.

While it's good to see what others are doing, what should matter most to you is what the owners in your HOA want and are willing to pay for. If the right amount of people want cameras, can agree on the type of system to get, and are willing to help fund it, then the Board (IAW the documents) could have authority to move out with such a project. However, the Board can't make that decision on their own since it's not likely that providing for that sort of equipment and service is HOA responsibility, unless it's written into the HOA documents that security, cameras, surveillance, etc. is HOA responsibility.

LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


03/27/2019 8:18 AM  
In some applications, such as in enclosed spaces there seems to be more empirical data in favor of them. But then again part of that might also be that it is combined with a store security officer etc. plus it can help deter employee theft etc. in the case of in store cameras at Wal-Mart. This also might factor in with the security cameras for HOA common amenities such as pools and their effectiveness for the application.

But, if the data is not as conclusive for another application, how can you make a non-biased decision about getting them? When your in that boat it feels like a vote among the community would be the only way you could remove that bias because this is one of those issues of preference and people having strong opinions that go both directions.

AugustinD


Posts:2096


03/27/2019 9:04 AM  
Posted By LanceG1 on 03/27/2019 8:18 AM
But, if the data is not as conclusive for another application, how can you make a non-biased decision about getting them? When your in that boat it feels like a vote among the community would be the only way you could remove that bias because this is one of those issues of preference and people having strong opinions that go both directions.


You indicate a recent Board has spent the money for a camera security system. This is the Board's legal right, even when a majority of members oppose this decision. It appears you are now on the Board. Either point of view is subjective. Is your aim to come up with language and facts that will persuade a board majority to change its mind? I think it's unlikely you and your group are going to change any board member's mind on the subject through debate at a meeting, even where the Board allows members to speak. I think the only sure way to get rid of this camera security system is to install a new board. This will require that you campaign and find a majority of members who are like minded and feel as you do. It happens all the time.
LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


03/27/2019 11:20 AM  
My purpose here was to learn more, get data etc... IE: is there compelling empirical/quantifiable data to support it that I had not seen. As of yet that doesn't appear to be the case. To be clear my question is not about the legality of the decision, it was legal.

My position up to this point has been that because there is not empirical evidence, and it was controversial in our community, why not give all stakeholders (the owners) a chance to actually have a say in it. Legally you don't have to, and some people feel that ethically the board should do what they want in that circumstance. I personally did not like that when I was in that situation as a homeowner and as such do not think it is the right thing to do. Some of us have differing opinions/styles relating to that and that is fine. Discussing those reasons helps us to better understand people with different styles/views etc..

As to what to do to solve that etc., I'm well aware of what it would take to reverse that decision, so that's not my question etc.. Sometimes the purpose is to just discuss things and learn. I would hope that is the reason we are all here.

JoshA
(Georgia)

Posts:1


11/17/2019 12:35 PM  
We had issues with Ring camera footage and the police not being able to use that to actually catch the thieves when they stole packages from porches or broke into cars since all it really provides is a description of the person.

So we also installed a Flock Security camera at both our entrances/exits which will read license plate numbers of inbound/outbound cars, and enable us to give those plate numbers to the police when members complained about a theft or break-in.

So here's our process:

1) Member complains of an event on our Facebook group

2) We cross-reference the time of the event with the flock camera (sometimes there's ring camera footage to help, sometimes not)

3) We give the license plate number to the member for them to send to the police


If you're still in this mess here's the link to the camera we bought.
https://www.flocksafety.com/product/product-overview
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3383


11/17/2019 3:05 PM  
Stasi-level security and Facebook. What a wonderful combination.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1531


11/17/2019 3:39 PM  
I dunno ... it’s all forensic, based on a crime.

Why would that be bad?
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3441


11/18/2019 5:43 AM  
P
2) We cross-reference the time of the event with the flock camera (sometimes there's ring camera footage to help, sometimes not)


Wont be too long before someone offers flock like device with facial recognition.....
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3383


11/18/2019 11:34 AM  
The Rise of Networked Vigilante Surveillance


Flock is among the worst of the worst. Their marketing, for one, encourages vigilantism, i.e. to take the law into you own hands. Flock makes its money by preying on peoples' fears. When I think of a community with a mass surveillance system controlled by my neighbors..... no. I'm not interested in living there.

Not to mention that social media brings out the worst in people. Sure, post a list of suspicious vehicles and people online. Then get on Facebook or Next Door and discuss it (maybe toss in a dash of racism for good measure) for the world to see. Nope, not me. That's the kind of world we were warned about growing up. "1984"s Big Brother was a piker compared to some of this stuff today. If I've got nothing to hide then why am I being subject to surveillance? Wanting my privacy is NOT equal to "having something to hide".
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1531


11/18/2019 11:42 AM  
I support video surveillance of entries and exits.

Not sure why the video or plate numbers would be posted in Facebook or anywhere else ... every neighborhood I know with this sort of surveillance simply maintains the hard drive, and waits for the police to request the video, following a crime.
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:461


11/18/2019 12:05 PM  
I agree with George S here. In my last HOA in Ca. we had only 1entrance in and out and we had License Plate Capture cameras. The ONLY time the details were given to anyone was if a Police Report was filed and the Officer requested the information.

Your board needs to adopt strict rules asap. Can't you see jealous husbands and wife's requesting the videos to catch a cheating spouse?
TimM11


Posts:324


11/19/2019 10:41 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 11/18/2019 11:42 AM
I support video surveillance of entries and exits.

Not sure why the video or plate numbers would be posted in Facebook or anywhere else ... every neighborhood I know with this sort of surveillance simply maintains the hard drive, and waits for the police to request the video, following a crime.




Flock cameras use AWS cloud storage rather than hard drives. Not sure about Ring cameras, but I would guess they use cloud storage too.

Personally, if I were going to use cameras in an HOA, I'd much rather go with a traditional hardwired solution rather than anything Internet-based. Even if the storage itself is secure, most of these systems are hackable to anyone sufficiently motivated or may even have backdoors built into them.

LanceG1
(Georgia)

Posts:47


11/19/2019 11:50 AM  
Since Flock has come up, that is who we use. I'm going to share what I sent on our mailing list before I became a board member. Of note: among other things that Flock has in their service contract they actually have a gag/NDA clause in the one our board signed before I joined. None of this identifies our community and I have redacted information identifying specific individuals, but I wanted to share this since it is a much deeper look into Flock. Of note, they have had issues with lenses fogging up in certain conditions and they have not always been reliable, from our HOA's experience. AKA, sometimes we would have no images from certain cameras etc..

Also, of note, this attached message is about 10 months old, so some things have probably changed with the company and they may have released the new version of the cameras etc..

message excerpt below
---------------------

As luck would have it, Flock Security reached out to me because they are looking for an , which is what I happen to do for my day job. I had a call and went onsite to talk with them, but in the end, for numerous reasons politely declined the project.

Needless to say I was able to get a bit more inside information about the company, their equipment etc. that I wanted to share. I’m going to split this into three parts. The non-technical, the semi technical and the technical details. This will be a little long, but will be well worth the read to understand what we are getting.

The TLDR is, as I’ve said before, they are the most cost effective solution for cameras, but there are some drawbacks that were likely not brought up during the sales calls. These drawbacks include being very easy for anybody to disable without vandalizing or covering the units, potential insecure data in the cloud and a company that is not established.

Non technical:

They currently have about 1000 units deployed. When I was in their office I saw about 20 to 25 people spread across various departments. Flock has raised about 20 million in investment. But, when you look at their costs as a business they are not, by any means, profitable and self sufficient as a company. Will they be around a year from now? Probably. Two or three years from now, maybe, but there is a high startup failure rate, especially in Atlanta. They also said that right now their product is the camera, but it may not be the ultimate direction of the company, though it is their current product for the time being and for the next couple of years. They also recently updated the pricing on their website to $2000 per camera for two years. So it sounds like, moving forward, they are trying to lock people in to a longer term contract.

Semi technical:

While the cameras give good resolution when they are working they have had reliability issues with the current hardware that they are using for the camera units (this is why they reached out to me). Given where they are at with their development and hiring cycle I would not expect to see a new generation of camera for 6-12 months.

During my tour of their office I noticed a switch on the back of the camera units. When I asked about that the told me that this switch will power down the unit. The reason for this is to be able to reset the unit (given the reliability of the current hardware I can see why they have that). My next question was, “isn’t that a security issue?”, his response was that these are mounted on 10 foot poles, so it would be difficult for someone to switch them off. He also stated that most people usually spray paint over the lens when trying to disable them. When I got home I had a look at our current installation, these cameras are actually about 5-6 feet off the ground with the switch easily accessible. I also noticed that the connector for the solar panel and cables are easily accessible.

What does all of this mean? Someone could power off and disable the unit by simply toggling a very easy to access switch on the unit. For that matter a curious person, who is just having a look at the unit and happens to flick the switch could inadvertently disable it. In addition to that, without vandalizing the unit someone could unhook the solar panel, taking away the units ability to charge and causing it to lose power in a few days. A slightly more sophisticated person could also easily cut the charging wire with a pair of wire cutters in an inconspicuous location with the same effect.

Another thing that came out during our conversation were the batteries. They are using lithium ion batteries in the black main camera unit. Their engineer insist that this is a solid design, however, the reality is that lithium ion batteries have a maximum temperature range of 122 degrees fahrenheit. On a hot summer day in direct sunlight these units will get much warmer than that. While Flock is responsible for fixing these when there are issues, this will cause reliability issues for both the main board and the batteries. Ring Pro units have a similar (non-replaceable) battery. If you look at the forums, units that are installed in direct sunlight have had a very high failure rate because of the battery failing.

The exclude known residents function currently happens in the cloud, not on the device. This means that the data may or may not be secure. Given some of the things I saw on the hardware side, I would assume that there are security issues with the rest of the system.

Technical Details for those who are into that kind of thing:

The units use a Raspberry Pi Zero board with the standard Pi 5 Mega Pixel camera mounted on a custom board with some LED arrays for night vision. There are sensors for detecting cars etc to sense when something is getting near to activate video. It is currently running a customized version of the Raspberry Pi linux (I believe Rasbian) with a separate LTE modem that is communicates with via a serial connection (it’s not USB based). Getting all of this working by their own admission has been hacky.

Moving forward, they are going to move to a quad core ARM based Android Things SOM, but, instead of using Android Things are going to be creating their own custom version of Android, which IMHO, is technically a sound choice. They also stated that they are evaluating doing away with the physical switch on the outside of the unit (I didn’t hear a firm commitment that they were going to but...).
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1531


11/19/2019 1:50 PM  
Sorry - in my head when I say “hard drive” I mean a storage device somewhere.

Given the low level of interest/value to bad guys, and the limited issues with the loss of some data, I would be very comfortable hosting this through an online storage system. It might also assuage the concerns of some to having a neighbor hosting it. Might also be technically easier to implement?
NicoleO5
(California)

Posts:28


11/21/2019 4:44 PM  
Our building about 10 years ago went through a small crime spree. Loads of bikes, were getting broken into, packages stolen etc... The HOA Board did install camera throughout the building and it's only in common areas.. THAT IS NOT a privacy issue. If you are in a common area its a common area.

This was disputed with some prior board members. They didn't want anyone to install a camera in the pool area for fear of invasion or privacy. It was over ruled. Good thing too. A group of unsupervised minors thought it was ok to use the jacuzzi nude. In the open, during the daytime! The mom challenged it wasn't her kids.. until she saw the footage which had to be handled with extreme caution since they were minors!

My neighbor was caught stealing my amazon package a few years ago. Nothing happened, but I will tell you EVEYONE knows about it, and knows he is a theif... people are more prone to be careful with packages now and it brings a little concern to would be theifs when they see cameras.. The guy who stole my amazon package denied it.. until his family saw his footage.. The USPS did nothing, local police did nothing.. however... having access to this is necessary for liability and safety issues.
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