Published on August 27th, 2020 📆 | 4046 Views ⚑0
Cannabis facilities upgrade security technology with help of savvy systems integrator
Will Biggerman, Chief Operating Officer of Surveillance Secure, a Gaithersburg, Maryland security integrations firm, knows that security is everything in the rapidly expanding cannabis industry.
A medical cannabis producer and retailer, with facilities in Maryland and Pennsylvania, approached and partnered with Surveillance Secure to meet their needs for new and upgraded comprehensive security systems from video monitoring to access control. As the client was expanding one of their growhouse facilities—adding a new wing to their existing building to meet growing demand—they needed integrated security to cover the additional spaces.
Strict surveillance laws surrounding cannabis dispensaries account for every stage of the plant’s growth, trimming, harvesting, packaging, and transportation processes. As Surveillance Secure has a well-established track record of helping cannabis clients gain compliance and maintain strict security, Biggerman’s expertise, vision and approach to the project was a main advantage in being selected as their partner.
The project for this particular client focused on the growhouses, processing areas, and dispensaries. The goals were to meet all state requirements for surveillance and ensure there were no blind spots throughout the “seed to store” operation.
Focusing on Meeting State Cannabis Requirements While Catering to Client’s Needs
This cannabis dispensary needed complete camera and access control solutions for their expanded premises. Monitoring cannabis products throughout every phase in its lifecycle is essential when it comes to meeting compliance, and each state has its own laws regarding the practice.
Uptime is crucial for security systems in any industry, and cannabis dispensaries are no exception. It’s not an option for cameras to go down. And Biggerman knows that the key when it comes to security for cannabis facilities is complying with state law for surveillance.
“As regulations vary from state to state, our first goal is to fully understand the regulatory requirements,” says Biggerman. “From the amount and length of required video storage to knowing levels of access for employees to their reporting needs, we really tailor our approach for each facility.”
To meet these security objectives for their client, Biggerman and his team installed:
- Over 50 cameras at one location
- Mounted cameras in hallways
- Lower-mounted cameras in processing areas to cover tabletops and employee hands
- Higher-mounted cameras for a full overview of every area, ensuring no blind spots
- Exterior cameras to monitor entrances and transportation
- Over 45 card readers and key fobs for access control with tiered access for the growmaster and employees
- Access control and cameras for the dispensaries
The Surveillance Secure team also used conduit with all cabling to minimize fire hazards. While typical buildings of these sizes wouldn’t necessarily require conduit for cabling, dispensaries need to retain their surveillance data, even in the event of a fire.
“Essentially, whenever a product changes hands or leaves the premises, it needs to be monitored. The client’s facility was operational 24/7, but fewer staff were there at night, so preventing theft during these off-peak hours was crucial with expanded security systems,” Biggerman explains.
Surveillance here, while essential for meeting compliance, goes beyond that aspect of the industry. “The cameras in the manufacturing facility were installed to ensure that every step of the growing, manufacturing, and transportation was covered,” says Biggerman of this project. “The client wanted a system to ensure no losses and protect their product and their business.”
The Surveillance Secure team also needed to be clean to access areas where cannabis was grown in their client’s facility. The team wore gowns in order to access specific areas, including grow areas and had to go through a cleaning room every time.
New Surveillance Solutions in Response to COVID Changes and Curbside Cannabis Delivery
Due to COVID developments, Surveillance Secure also handled a follow-up project for this specific client by installing curbside pickup cameras, which allowed customers to avoid coming into the dispensary while still being able to pick up their product.
As COVID rapidly changed the way businesses do business, the Surveillance Secure team needed to quickly install a new outdoor camera system to monitor products, employees, and customers during the pickup process. These cameras featured fixed installation to cover both employees and vehicles.
The new surveillance cameras allowed people to place an order online and indicate their car type and personal data. The video camera feed would confirm the information, enabling the dispensary to streamline their pickup process while ensuring premises and product security.
“The system really streamlines the pickup process, as the cameras verify a specific vehicle description associated with an order. An employee can then deliver the matched order after verifying the customer’s name and identification. This way, customers don’t have to leave their vehicle, yet pick-up is more efficient and results in reduced risk for everyone involved.”
This new outdoor camera installation required rapid deployment, and Surveillance Secure turned the project around 48 hours after the client’s request.
Tiered Access Control and Accommodating Future Growth
The access control system for this cannabis dispensary was another challenge Biggerman and his team addressed.
“We needed to ensure tiered access levels for the access control system,” Biggerman says. “For example, the growmaster is responsible for growing certain plants and overseeing certain production lines, and those individuals needed access to all areas of the facility.”
“However, we needed to program different access levels for different employees, as some were not given access to specific grow rooms, storerooms, and hallways. So really, access control customization was a big part of this process to ensure authorized employees could easily access the areas they needed to, while others were prevented from entering sensitive areas.”
While fitting the facilities with access control and surveillance cameras, Biggerman and his team installed the system on-site with local storage. Due to cannabis dispensary laws, the client needed to retain more than 30 days of video storage.
To accomplish this, Surveillance Secure extended the video archive storage infrastructure. They designed and installed a system that can be expanded to support future growth. While the facilities are currently exclusively for medical cannabis, they’re building in capacity and expansion capabilities with their security systems as they foresee recreational usage becoming legal in the future.
The client also wanted cameras that had the capability to upgrade to analytics should they choose to, so the Surveillance Secure team installed a higher grade of cameras that could support intelligent video analytics to accommodate potential future surveillance needs.
Overall, the project was a success. “Not only were we working within tight deadlines, but we also needed to accommodate developing COVID challenges for our client regarding surveillance,” says Biggerman. “The entire system is expandable and can handle future upgrades, which eliminates the need for the client to start from scratch to accommodate evolving security needs.” These adaptable surveillance systems are something the cannabis industry can absolutely take advantage of as it grows.
About the Author: Rob Gazzola is currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Surveillance Secure, a leading commercial security integrator headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD. Rob also leads Surveillance Secure’s franchising efforts with new franchised locations opening nationwide. He can be reached at [email protected]