New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



My Turn: Creating a Safe House

Anthony Mampilly, Former Board Member, Kew Village Estates, Queens

In today’s fast-paced world, we may not be aware of the things that are happening around us. But we need to be very familiar with what is going on around our homes. In some apartment complexes, there is no security staff, nor is there any budget allocated for security. In these circumstances, we need to be able to rely on smart tools to protect our families and our assets.

I know. I designed such a system at our cooperative for a few of my neighbors and myself.

Our family moved into Kew Village Estates in Queens in 2000. A garden apartment complex with 83 buildings and 423 units, the co-op is in a nice, family-friendly neighborhood with easy access to subways, shopping centers, and schools. I had the privilege of serving on the board from 2001 to 2002, and since then, I have been concerned about the growing need for security, even in pleasant neighborhoods such as ours.

Fortunately, we have many technologies available today that address these issues. A well-designed closed circuit television (CCTV) camera system can easily capture the details of what is going on in our surroundings. We can play back the recording at any time. Should any incident occur, we can provide the evidence to the authorities as well.

I worked with a number of residents of Kew Village Estates in an unofficial, board-sanctioned project to cover their perimeter with a CCTV camera system that will keep them secure for a long time. Seven outdoor cameras (bottom photo) were set up to cover the perimeter of the apartment complex, and one indoor camera now captures the entrance. The camera resolution is very good. The images are being streamed continually when any motion is detected. As nightfall approaches, the infrared comes into play, capturing images even in the night. Dome outdoor cameras were selected because they are able to withstand the vagaries of the weather.

The solution we implemented is both web-based and real-time. These images can be seen on a computer with access to the internet, a smartphone, or a tablet device (center photo). Additionally, we wanted to have enough storage in the DVR to capture a month’s worth of recordings. That would ensure that if there is any incident, the residents can go ahead and provide the evidence to the authorities.

My immediate neighbors – four families – reviewed the proposal and agreed among themselves that getting the equipment would be in their best interest. We subsequently sought approval both in a formal meeting and in writing.

The board welcomed this proposal and gave the go-ahead to proceed. The project was well-planned. Bids were invited, and the party that won has good experience in installation of security systems and was reasonable ($4,300 for the project).

The installation was finished in two days. Now, the residents who participated have peace of mind. They can know what is happening around their co-op even when they are away from home.

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