The US city, most famous in video surveillance for standardizing on Hikvision, has issued an RFQ for 962 Verkada cameras due Wednesday, May 1, 2019. We estimate the value to be one million dollars.
In this note, based on our research and our talks with others close to the project, we look at the following:
- How they got specified in the RFQ
- How Verkada fits into the city’s existing ~2000-camera Hikvision system
- The original awarded RFQ was canceled
- Compatibility with the Memphis PD Real Time Crime Center (MPD RTCC) not required
- Input from the city
- Input from the winner of the original bid
- Input from former MPD officer
- Research ongoing
Verkada Specified In The RFQ
The City of Memphis released RFQ 39411 specifying a 962-camera Verkada surveillance system on April 22, 2019, with a close date of May 1, 2019 – 9 days later.
We estimate the price of the products in the RFQ to be ~one million dollars.
Based on Verkada’s MSRP, the price, based on current pricing, would be $1.4 million, while based on new pricing (which goes into effect on May 1, 2019) would be $1.65 million. Factoring in discounts for other Verkada government projects we have analyzed, the expected price will be about one million.
Though we estimated based on historical pricing from other municipal projects, Verkada’s pricing was much lower and the total for the whole project is $783,760.78
In what is certainly an atypical move, the city split the RFQ between two vendors. Thomas Consultants who won the purchase order for the 383 D40s mentioned in RFQ 39411 at a price of $466.48 each, which is ~ 42% below Verkada’s old MSRP of $799. Systems Technologies, LLC was awarded the PO for the 579 D50s at $579.86 each, which is ~36% below Verkada’s old MSRP of $899. Systems Technologies also won the 5-yr licenses at $280 each, which is ~47% off Verkada’s old MSRP of $599.
City of Memphis General Services Director Antonio Adams told IPVM that the new Verkada system would not replace or directly supplement the existing Hikvision surveillance system that is monitored by the Memphis PD in the RTCC:
We wanted to have an enterprise-wide solution for the city, but one which wouldn’t tax the PD. The existing system is sent to the RTCC. The new system is only for the security of patrons in and around city facilities. It’s more or less just to record activity, fact find if there is an incident and accurately determine what happened. The facility managers will be responsible for the monitoring of the new system. When there’s a notification—once we teach the system what we’re looking for, for example, an unauthorized entry—then it will give notice to the RTCC. It’s not meant for them to monitor on a regular basis.
The Original Awarded RFQ Was Canceled
The original RFQ 39184 was awarded to a local “microcomputer hardware and software firm” Thomas Consultants, Inc. Calls and emails to TCI were not returned.
That RFQ was canceled, as seen below:
Adams confirmed the original RFQ had to be canceled because there was no term specified for the licenses, which would make it impossible to accurately bid:
Compatibility With The MPD RTCC not required
Previously, new cameras discussed by the City Council had to be “compatible with existing MPD equipment” already in use at the MPD RTCC, as seen in the sample below:
However, this new project, since it is not intended to be monitored by the Memphis PD, does not need to be compatible with existing MPD equipment (most of which is Hikvision).
We found a reference in the June 5th 2018 City Council Meeting Agenda to a project called the Neighborhood Sentinel Program that does not stipulate compatibility with existing equipment, as seen below:
However, Adams confirmed Neighborhood Sentinel is a separate project from the Verkada project.
Input From The Winner Of The Original Bid
Calls and emails to TCI seeking comment on why the original RFQ was canceled were not returned.
On March 29th, the company tweeted that it had won a camera contract with the city of Memphis.
After IPVM contacted TCI, the company removed the original tweet. However, we screenshotted:
Input From Former MPD Lieutenant
Retired MPD Lieutenant Joe Patty, who was instrumental to the city’s existing ~2000 Hikvision surveillance network said the new Verkada project was not a police department project:
Before I retired I had limited knowledge of the the “Verkada” project you are referencing. It was a City of Memphis General Services Division project created by the Memphis City Council to install cameras at city community centers and city libraries etc. The project was not tied to the Memphis Police Department originally.
However, Patty said the original City Council proposal for new cameras stipulated that the new camera project be compatible with the equipment already in use at the MPD RTCC:
The Memphis Police Department became engaged in the project after learning, from the City Counsel Resolution creating the project, that the cameras must be compatible to existing platforms at the Real Time Crime Center so they could be monitored there.
Win For Verkada
This will, if finalized, be a major win for Verkada, as their aggressive direct-to-end-user marketing approach continues to deliver large customers quickly. Memphis, for example, is the US’s 25th largest city. This will be useful both as a reference account for other cities and for the ongoing expansion of Memphis own city surveillance.
Challenges for Memphis
However, Memphis may eventually regret this as they are now locked into a single vendor. As their use of Hikvision shows, over time, cities need to change and add in new surveillance technology, which will be impossible under Verkada’s current closed model.