Security Solutions for the Cannabis Industry
My fellow Canadians, coast-to-coast, recreational cannabis legalization is less than a year away. With the consumption of medical marijuana on the rise, the introduction of legislation for recreational consumption introduced in April of 2017, and the proposed legalization of the substance by mid-2018, more and more producers are surfacing. Meeting both Health Canada’s strict requirements, and managing the environmental challenges posed by both indoor and outdoor grows, has been a unique conundrum for Canadian cannabis hopefuls. Our work with Canadian Canna-business has provided us with a rare inside look at many of the issues and conditions that producers regularly contend with.
With our experience, we can provide a full security plan and design for facilities that are seeking their license from Health Canada. We source hardware, install equipment, maintain and service systems, and provide continuing support to our cannabis clients.
As a courtesy to Canada’s cannabis entrepreneurs, I present to you 11 solutions for making your grow secure and successful.
Cannabis Grow Room Lighting
The lighting within the facilities is one of the unique challenges. The regulations set forth that there are to be no blind spots within any of the areas where cannabis is handled. These areas are the cannabis grow rooms, trim rooms, extraction areas and the vault. The grow rooms are the most difficult, as lighting conditions may distort the video from the camera. This distortion stems from a different light spectrum hitting the camera lens and ultimately confusing the cameras, as it cannot filter this wavelength of light. Most lights used in the Cannabis grow rooms emit different wavelengths of light, to help the cannabis plants grow faster, which can ultimately cause problems for the surveillance cameras.
The issues usually only occur with cameras that are cheaply built and of meager quality. We have tested a few different cameras within grow room environments and have selected a few cameras that have offered the best video quality within the environments. We always recommend demoing the product within a new facility before integration, to ensure that there will be no issues with the video quality due to the lighting.
Possibly the largest hurdle is the video storage requirement. Health Canada requires video footage for two years to be collected, which ends up being a massive amount of data. The setup should always record at one frame per second (fps), and then, if motion is detected, it should be recording at 30fps. This means that one image is taken per second no matter what, and thirty if there is motion within the image. With plants swaying, workers moving and the facility often being active 24-7, the amounts of video data collected are quite massive. This is however where we have a unique solution that will offer huge cost savings.
Most mistakes are made during the calculation of the video storage requirements. Many proposals will come back with their proprietary storage requirements, which hinges on the type of camera and the amount of motion detected every day. There are however massive differences, with a 100 camera install being quoted at 700 Terabytes and another quote offering 2.5 Petabytes (2500 Terabytes). Of course, there will also be a cost difference as a result of it. Ultimately, one solution will likely be offering too much storage, while another will be too low on the storage. We make a difference by guaranteeing our storage calculations, and will provide additional storage, should it be discovered that it is not enough space. We do all of this at no extra cost, something no other integrator has offered.
Hard Drives are a regular maintenance item. Depending on the grade of drive, enterprise or consumer, the drives will have to be replaced every 3-5 years. It is important to work with a partner that will remind you of those maintenance intervals, while also offering solutions that will minimize these costs. Our solutions are fully hybrid storage systems that do not rely solely on hard drives. Instead of having to replace the entire storage array every 3-5 years, with our solution, only about a quarter or even less of the entire storage will have to replaced, providing huge cost savings.
Servers are another primary need for these setups. Many companies will quote NVR’s (Network Video Recorder) and stack those to accomodate the hundreds of cameras. This not only is a very messy way of completing the task but will also cause mayhem with the storage requirements. NVR’s are single points of failure, which can risk your Health Canada certification. Our solutions are built to be fully redundant with load balanced servers, offering an available server for every task at any time. These servers are fully compatible with our Milestone XProtect software and automatically manage the storage. No human interference is ever required for the video system to function. Since the data storage is extensive, we always recommend having servers, rather than NVR’s, as servers have the necessary performance to pull video from these large storage arrays within a very short time.
Large installations require expertise to be properly executed and the proper products to function. Without both of these factors, the project is bound to have problems. Our products are state of the art solutions that we have sourced ourselves and tested. We vouch for our solutions, as we have evaluated their performance. Due to our careful sourcing of the products, our solutions can be positioned very cost-effectively, compared to other enterprise solutions.
Our expertise also lies with large projects. From healthcare facilities to business chains and more, we have the experience and expertise to complete large projects, both on time and on budget. With experience for fiber-optic connections, manufacturer trained technicians and a focus on quality and safety, we are prepared to take on any project of any size.
Meeting the Health Canada regulations is one thing, but ensuring the compliance of your system beyond is another. Two years of video storage are required. If there is a power outage during those two years and the system is not properly backed up, some data will be lost. Additionally, should any of the network or server hardware fail, video, or worse access to the facility, may be lost and it may take some time to recover it all. Meanwhile, your facility is now not meeting the Health Canada requirements which can be a problem.
All of our proposals include a fully redundant network infrastructure that is more than able to handle the power requirements of all cameras, access controllers and more. Additionally, our servers are usually load balanced offering multiple servers that can handle the traffic, should one fail. We have also partnered with APC to provide Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) that will serve your equipment with clean power at all times and will keep everything up and running during a power failure. Individual NVR’s, stacked UPS’s, low-cost switches and other hardware will all be single points of failure that can ultimately cost you the license that you have worked for. Our solutions eliminate these issues before they occur.
The facility needs and alarm system, while the vault also needs and individual alarm system contained within. The installer does not have to be ULC certified, but the monitoring will have to be ULC grade monitoring. Depending on the proximity to a major city, and a few other factors a certain type of monitoring has to be met. Our solutions are fully ULC listed, and our monitoring stations are also ULC certified. We are able to completely install the alarm systems and then monitor them beyond that point.
Our monitoring rates have traditionally been very competitive and it is no different for the cannabis industry. All of our recommended equipment is supplied by Honeywell, a leader in the intrusion and fire alarm category. With five year warranties on all the equipment and a very easy to use system, Honeywell has always been a great partner for us in the intrusion and fire alarm categories.
Service and Support
The service and support after the solutions have been installed is of utter importance. After all, these are costly endeavors, and you will want to be able to count on the partner that is taking care of your security solutions. We offer a 4-hour support guarantee if a technician is required on-site, and also offer 24-7-365 customer support, in the case of any issues.
Our support is part of our success, as we ensure our customers are taken care of right away. Our goal is to get any support issue resolved the same day unless special order parts are required. With a large solution, as would be required for a cannabis facility, a partner that you can rely on for support and service is an absolute requirement.
Video Surveillance, Access Control, and Alarm Systems all require a network to work. In a cannabis facility, the alarm system will likely be connected to a phone line and then a cellular backup, but it is still possible to also transmit alarm signals through the internet. With video surveillance and access control, there are some major data requirements, all of which have to be taken into account when completing the initial design. If the network is not designed properly, which should allow for all cameras to be recording at 30fps at once, while all doors are triggered, then it will cause lags, and possible data drops, meaning your video may not be recording.
Most of our installs utilize fiber-optic connections, and all of the switching equipment allows for up to 10 Gigabit per second per device to be transmitted. All switches we use also offer a PoE+ output on every port, with a redundant power supply to ensure enough power is available and another power supply is ready to kick in, in the case of a failure. During our design phase, we ensure there are no bottlenecks within the network design. The fiber optic allows us to offer data runs over a long-distance, without sacrificing the speed of the connection. Our servers are usually also connected to the network via fiber or high-speed copper connections.
Access Control Requirements for Cannabis Facilities
Another unique requirement for the operations in a cannabis facility is the need for an RPIC (Responsible Person In Charge) in the rooms where marijuana is present. The RPIC will have to be present in the room before any workers can enter the room. This is ultimately controlled by the access control system. Our access control partner Open Options offers this exact solution right out of the box with their DNA Fusion software. Open Options is the perfect partner for cannabis facilities as their solution can accommodate any requirements that Health Canada might bring forth at a later time.
Open Options’ DNA Fusion software can integrate with Stentofon Intercoms, an industry leader in intercom solutions. Additionally, Open Options can provide a printing system for all keycards, offering additional identification of every person within your facility. Ultimately, Open Options will be the best solution for any cannabis facility, offering the best pricing, while offering a very powerful solution that can integrate with Milestone’s XProtect and provide an overview of your entire facility within seconds.
Not to forget, with a cannabis facility, there is a requirement for I.T. solutions. From laptops and desktop computers to printers and networking hardware, we can provide it all. Our I.T. team will be able to set everything up for you and provide the ongoing service and support with the same service guarantees. We have become a one-stop shop for many of our clients by offering first class service and reliable hardware at the same time. Our goal is to provide you with a long-lasting solution and the best possible service when it is required.
We thank you for taking the time to read this post. While there are a few details that we may have left out, we encourage you to get in touch with us and see how we have been able to solve some unique challenges that we have been faced with. Our security solutions completely meet the Health Canada requirements, and we can help with the initial submission for Health Canada. Our goal is to provide a cost-efficient solution for your facility, while providing all the possible help along the way. Contact us at 1(844) 230-2730 or email us at [email protected]. We are ready to help at any time and offer estimates at absolutely no cost to you. Let’s get started today.