Facility Security, Security Hardware and Technology

Case Study: Surveillance System Secures Houston Facilities for the Homeless

The Star of Hope Mission in Houston, Texas, has installed hundreds of Hanwha Techwin security cameras and a Wisenet WAVE video management system (VMS) to help secure facilities for unhoused men, women, and children. In this case study, Star of Hope Mission Director of Facilities Development Ike Kimmel and the security tech company discuss the campus-wide deployment at one of the organization’s two centers and reveal future adoption plans.

Courtesy: Hanwha Techwin

Exploring the History

In 1907, Reverend Dennis R. Pevoto, a Baptist minister, established Star of Hope Mission for men who had fallen on hard times. Originally housed in a single two-story building, the Mission focused on helping men who had no place to go. But that focus changed along with homelessness. Today, women and children are the fastest-growing population of unhoused people in the United States.

To help address the community’s growing needs, the Star of Hope now runs two centers: the Doris and Carloss Morris Men’s Development Center and the recently completed Women and Family Development Center. Both centers offer support and training with the goal of helping men, women, and their families achieve physical, emotional, occupational, and spiritual wholeness.

The current Men’s Development Center opened in June 2000. It is a 70,000 square-foot facility that can house 300-350 men. The Women and Family Development Center at Cornerstone Community was completed in 2017. It is a seven-building campus that can house up to 160 single women and 130 families and includes children’s services for age birth through 18 years old. It provides basic recovery services and long-term educational programs in a walkable campus environment. Once a person enters the facility, everything is provided at no cost to the resident.

Building the Women and Family Development Center from the Ground Up

Located on the south side of Houston, the Cornerstone Community Campus project began in 2013 and took four years to complete. Part of the project included developing an entirely new physical security system. Ike Kimmel has been working at the Women and Family Development Center since the planning stage and is in charge of facilities. When speaking about its unique security challenges, Kimmel states, “We are dealing with vulnerable people. Many of our clients are escaping violence.”

It was clear from the beginning that Star of Hope had to install a security system at the Women and Family Development Center that would allow the organization to provide a safe environment in which its clients could recover. At the same time, given the campus’ layout, there were several design challenges.

Kimmel worked closely with the installing contractor, Ricky Johnson from Houston-based integrator Design Security Controls, to create a system including cameras, access control, and video intercom that would meet the center’s needs.

Courtesy: Hanwha Techwin

Explains Kimmel, “Because of the configuration of the campus, we had to make sure that we had coverage inside and outside—inside the buildings and the fence and then outside on the surrounding perimeter area. On the camera side, it was a big challenge for us to make sure that we covered everything.”

After reviewing options from a variety of manufacturers, the Star of Hope selected Hanwha Techwin cameras and later adopted Wisenet WAVE as its VMS.

Choosing the Right Cameras for the Campus

Star of Hope selected a combination of Wisenet S, X, and P series Hanwha Techwin cameras for its video surveillance system. In part, the decision about which cameras to purchase were based on the level of detail required for different locations. In particular, Star of Hope needed higher levels of detail for outside locations and lower levels for interior spaces.

In total, Star of Hope installed 262 cameras, using 12 MP cameras on the perimeter, 4 MP cameras in courtyards, and 2 MP cameras inside buildings. P series 12 MP 360° fisheye cameras also were installed in classrooms. These cameras are not actively monitored, but Kimmel wanted to ensure that there were no blind spots in any buildings.

Monitoring and Retrieving Video

The Women and Family Development Center has a Security Command Room with a video wall that features nine 40-inch screens that are actively monitored 24/7. Kimmel also has a screen in his office that he uses mainly for forensic investigations. Wisenet WAVE also enables the Command Room to display supplemental maps and graphics that provide a virtual tour of the campus and camera locations.

Kimmel is particularly impressed with the VMS, saying, “It is incredible how easy it is to use and just amazing how much it helps us with both active monitoring and finding recorded video.” In a recent case of theft on campus, for example, Star of Hope was able to find and share video footage with local law enforcement to support the investigation and prosecution of the crime.

In addition to live monitoring, security at the center also relies heavily on recorded video for forensic investigations. And all of that high-resolution video footage requires large amounts of storage, especially since the standard retention rate at the center is 30 days. To reduce bandwidth and storage requirements, the center uses H.265 and Wisestream II compression technology.

Developing a New System for the Men’s Center

Star of Hope Mission has been so satisfied with its Hanwha Techwin video surveillance system at the Women and Family Development Center that it is about to start a new deployment.

“We are currently working with Johnson on an upcoming project to install 52 cameras and the Wisenet WAVE VMS at the Men’s Development Center,” says Kimmel. “The new system will also include a dedicated Security Command Room that will enable the security team to monitor live video 24/7.”

Kimmel is also excited that the systems at the two centers will be joined using WAVE Sync, making his job easier. He explains, “Instead of having to go back and forth between the centers, our Hanwha Techwin systems will allow me to monitor video from my office at the Women and Family Development Center or from my mobile phone.”

For Star of Hope Mission, ensuring the safety and security of its clients is vital. With its surveillance system, the organization is able to continue supporting some of the most vulnerable men, women, and children in Houston.