Tag Archives: IP Video Security

Iowa casino ups its game with Tyco Security Products Video Surveillance Solution

As one of Iowa’s most successful casino resorts, WinnaVegas Casino and Resort knows how to help guests relax in style. With a 24-hour casino, arcade, fitness center, pool, fine dining and event center, guests have all they could want at their fingertips. It’s no wonder that WinnaVegas is one of the most popular casino resorts in the region.

WinnaVegas Casino

Challenge

In the gaming business, speed and efficiency are everything, including surveillance and security. After recent expansion of its casino, hotel and parking areas, WinnaVegas Casino Resort needed to update its surveillance system with a cost-effective way to migrate from analog to fast, high-performing IP video technology. With some video monitoring systems and IP cameras, there is latency, or delay, between the operator’s joystick command and the camera’s movement. WinnaVegas surveillance operators wanted to be able to quickly track a patron moving across the casino floor or zoom in for a closer look at a player’s hand of cards, so low latency cameras were required.

Solution

Illustra ProThe Illustra Pro PTZ and mini-dome cameras in combination with the victor/VideoEdge Video Monitoring System from Tyco Security Products give the casino resort the high-resolution video and low latency needed for its growing and complex operations. The Illustra PTZ cameras allow WinnaVegas surveillance staff to actively monitor happenings on gaming floors with exceptional situational awareness and reliable control to easily identify clear details.

The cameras’ bandwidth usages are low, using H.264 compression to reduce bandwidth to a fraction of that used by most 1080p HD PTZ cameras. Lower bandwidth provided by Illustra cameras reduces network traffic, saves on storage costs and keeps communications between devices and servers nimble and efficient.

Victor and VideoEdge provided the casino with a bridge between its existing analog system and new IP system. victor/VideoEdge ties in the casino’s Illustra IP cameras and VideoEdge network video recorders and hybrid recorders with its existing analog infrastructure, allowing operators to manage live and recorded video through a single interface. Real-time alarms and events also can be leveraged with video, audio, motion and other advanced features to provide the immediate birds-eye view needed by the casino resort.

VideoEdge network video recorders were added to provide the speed and power desired by WinnaVegas Casino Resort and its operations. VideoEdge enables multiple video streams for live, record, alarm bump and meta-data collection and features Smart Search for fast searches that staff can export event findings when needed. The NVRs’ multicast video streaming technology and victor’s built-in intelligence further reduce bandwidth requirements.

The Tyco Security Products solution delivered the simplified management, seamless integration into one, unified security system and high quality images.  As WinnaVegas contemplates its next expansion, it won’t need to roll the dice with an entirely new proprietary system or transition completely to IP technology—WinnaVegas can build upon its existing victor, VideoEdge, Illustra solution and grow its security system as needed, one chip at a time.

Read the full case study.

Learn more about migrating from analog to IP.

St. Joseph’s Health Care: The Right Technology at the Right Time

St. Joseph's LogoThere are thousand of moving parts in a health care organization, which operates on a 24/7/365 schedule. A medical facility such as St. Joseph’s Health Care Londonin Ontario, Canada, requires a security system that provides around-the-clock monitoring and immediate access as events unfold, day or night.

The organization also knows that it can certainly benefit from the latest advancements in security technology, but the approach to adopting new systems has to come with a sound strategic plan in mind.

When St. Joseph’s recently underwent an upgrade in its security system to include IP video, among the key areas the security team wanted to address were video clarity, latency and breadth of coverage so it could better monitor and respond to the ongoing and potential incidents taking place inside and outside of the hospital.

IP CamerasTo achieve these goals, St. Joseph’s and its integrator, Integrated Video & Surveillance, added more than 45 IP cameras to supplement the hundreds of analog ones already in place, upgraded its video platform and tapped into the power of analytics.

Aided by the improved video quality of an IP-based system, with a video platform that allows security personnel to view images in real time, without playback interruption, means officers can follow a situation as it occurs, moving seamlessly from one camera view to another and at a resolution level so they can critical information clearly.

The addition of IP cameras with improved resolution and seamless recording and playback performance also provides St. Joseph’s with the ability to address myriad issues that are at the heart of running a successful medical facility — whether it is monitoring hallways and parking lots for potential accidents or checking out who is trying to access a restricted area, such as a pharmacy or psychiatric ward.

Security Center

Deploying analytics added another level of sophisticated functionality to the security system, allowing St. Joseph’s security staff to engage in people counting or set security perimeters in specific areas that will trigger alarms in the system.

Like any organization looking to update its systems, St. Joseph’s approached the project with goals and a budget in mind. There are many new systems available for improving security these days, so it takes careful planning and a strategic partnership with an integrator to settle on those areas that will bring the most benefit. Instead of swapping out everything that was in place, like the hundreds of analog cameras, St. Joseph’s strategically deployed technology that would take it to the next level.

And the organization is now poised to continue its updates, operating from a timetable and with a program that works within the parameters it has carefully set.

To read more on St. Joseph’s Healthcare and their transition to an IP video platform, click here to download the full case study.

Putting video to work in new ways

Tyco Security Products

A video surveillance system can be a multi-tasker, especially when deployed within a factory or production environment. From shipping and logistics, where it provides control support and documentation, to operations, where it can assist with deploying personnel, video has the ability to go well beyond its usual security and safety functions.

Companies can harness their video surveillance system to show current or potential clients how different processes work within their organization. If quality control within a distribution facility is the focus, video systems can be tapped to show the progress of an order from the time it is placed, through the automated or manual picking process and ending with the completed order. Without having to be in the room or on site, a customer can receive assurance about the integrity of the order fulfillment process just by viewing it live through the video surveillance system.

A CCTV system can also benefit the logistics operations of a manufacturer. Cameras can help dispatch personnel by determining which loading bay is empty and ready to receive a shipment for off-loading, or indicate the dock to which a truck can be sent to be loaded with product for distribution.

A manufacturershipping product to the United States, for example, needs to document the contents of each container or truck to meet the country’s anti-terrorism import measures, also known as C-TPAT. Having evidence of the packing and shipping operations on video can aid in compliance with these regulations, which ensures easier passage through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Additionally, the camera system provides visibility regarding the movement of pallets or goods throughout different areas of the warehouse, providing an additional layer of quality control for warehousing operations.

Cameras focused on conveyor systems for security purposes can also make important information on product flow available, especially when analytics are used to count product or monitor productivity. Identifying areas where bottlenecks occur can translate into money and time savings for the company.

Surveillance cameras have even helped car dealers show off their inventory to customers when conditions aren’t ideal, such as during a snowstorm or when it is raining. The same system that can identify potential thieves is also capable of offering virtual tours to eager buyers.

By thinking about video in new ways, users can build on their investment in surveillance and achieve new levels of functionality, efficiency and cost savings.

Why not think about how video can do double duty within your operations?

Providing Storage Security to a Diverse Customer Base

Concern for security and privacy has become part of modern life, both personally and commercially. Whether it’s storage of a hospital’s sensitive medical documents, an individual’s family heirlooms, or a small business’s legal files, everyone wants to be assured that their valuables are kept as safely and securely as possible.

Storage SecurityIn turn, storage businesses are expected to meet every customer’s needs and requirements and to provide broad and specialized levels of security for their stored goods, no matter what the type. It is not uncommon for businesses in the storage industry to face challenges in providing this level of highly individualized and effective storage security, especially with many storage facilities being located in open rural areas and only protected by a chain link fence.

Due to their location, and the contents contained within, storage facilities can be an easy target for thieves. In June, two people were arrested after witnesses saw them stealing tools and a pressure washer from a storage facility in East Gadsden, Ala. Police expect the suspects to be connected to a string of storage unit break-ins in the area.

Even though Kentucky Underground Storage, Inc. is situated in a unique and discrete location, it invested in upgrading its security solution to greatly improve its security coverage and capabilities. KUSI, located near Lexington, Ky., is a family-owned business that has been in operation since the late 1970s.

The company wished to expand their surveillance coverage, and update their cameras to provide varying types of security for their customers. KUSI needed better review capabilities in order to replay surveillance video and zoom in with clarity and detail when needed. The facility also wanted the ability to zoom in and clearly capture the image of a face and/or vehicle, in order to identify and monitor visitors, and sought to improve the security of its parking lot.

To meet their multiple needs and those of their customers, KUSI and integrator, Tyco Integrated Security, chose Illustra HD cameras from Tyco Security Products. The Illustra HD cameras provide high-definition, clear video that can be accessed easily and consistently by KUSI employees.

In addition, KUSI’s system includes remote monitoring, an essential for its security staff. Remote monitoring lets the company’s staff track surveillance from anywhere, via a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device. With its new system now in place, KUSI can upgrade cameras as needed, without replacing its entire security system.

Security is not just a necessity for large corporations, hospitals and schools, it is also a necessity for a variety of smaller businesses who need to provide ongoing protection of their assets and those of their customers.

Read more about KUSI’s security upgrade.

 

What questions do you have about HD IP security cameras? Leave me your question in the comments section below.

Physical Security: An Important Tool for School Safety

Over the past decade, installers and integrators have experienced a steady increase in inquiries for security products, including video surveillance, alarm systems, access control, and integrated security management systems, in schools and campuses across the country.

School SafetyIt’s no surprise that administrators, faculty, and parents are questioning andaddressing the level of security in their schools as shootings and campus violence continue to make headlines. In 1999, the year of the Columbine shootings, electronic security was not much of a discussion topic for schools, or even college campuses for that matter.

In the past, schools with physical security were usually equipped with a few access control points and emergency notification systems. One year after the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007, the Campus Safety and Security Project conducted a national survey of colleges and universities, which revealed that approximately 50% of higher education respondents had perimeter access cards for their residence hall facilities. Far fewer facilities had monitored cameras or surveillance systems.

Today, an increasing number of campuses, high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools are implementing integrated video surveillance, analytics, and security management systems.A recent study from IHS, expects the market for school security system integration to rise by more than 80% from 2012 to 2017. The report called “Vertical Insights: Video Surveillance & Security in Education,” projects the market for security systems integration in educational institutions to grow from under $3 billion in 2012 to $4.9 billion by 2017.

For many schools, physical security is an ongoing process of redefining needs and staying vigilant. It was 15 years ago when the superintendent of the Cherokee County School District (CCSD) in Georgia, Dr. Frank Petruzielo, created the district’s public safety department. Back then, the district, which now comprises 47 schools and centers, had no intrusion detection, unmonitored fire alarms, and a handful of unmonitored, individual cameras purchased by individual schools.

Today, Cherokee County School District has entered the world of IP physical security with a hybrid IP surveillance solution and a unified security management system that features victor unified management system, VideoEdge hybrid recorders and American Dynamics’ Illustra IP cameras,allowing security staff and administrators access to live video and events throughout the school system. What started as a project for the district’s high schools and building perimeters, has grown to include surveillance in target areas at middle schools and other facilities.

CCSD is just one of countless campuses, schools, and districts that has found value in installing or upgrading its existing security to offer a safe environment for employees and students. Emergency notification systems, fire alarms, alarm systems, access control, video surveillance, and integrated security management systems are working together to allow schools to keep the pulse on their facilities and the people inside of them.

Read more about the Cherokee County School District and its journey to a hybrid IP surveillance solution.

 

What do you think are a school system’s biggest challenges to upgrading school safety?Please leave me a comment below.

To 4K or not to 4K video?

4K VideoOur industry’s seemingly insatiable appetite for more and more resolution has now produced a wave of interest in 4K cameras that promise exceptional clarity and sharpness, akin to the big screen, Ultra HD television sets found in consumer electronics stores and an increasing number of North American homes.

The jury is still out on whether there is an immediate need for the resolution that can overcome the downsides of increased storage and bandwidth required for running 4K cameras in a surveillance

operation. Like so many things, if the cost of the camera, cost of the supporting system infrastructure and components were of no concern, this new format would likely be a more viable and attractive option for many security applications.

Here are four things to consider before making the leap to investing in and deploying 4K video:

1. What will I get with 4K that is not possible at lower resolution?
There’s no doubt that 4K technology is light years ahead of analog quality, but the reality is that the increased clarity and sharpness provided by that level of resolution is often over and beyond what is required and able to be managed by a typical security operation. For many reasons, full HD/1080P is the most commonly used resolution for new systems. The majority of security systems in use for live monitoring situation do not really benefit from such a resolution, as the human eye is well served with the details of a 1080P picture. Higher resolutions pay out when more details are required in forensic investigations.

2. Double the resolution, double the processing requirements
Users typically want to see more than one camera on one monitor, and only  occasionally switch to full screen modes. With 4K, the clarity of that multi camera view would be no clearer than what would be viewed from a lower resolution camera. In addition, delivering streams from multiple 4K cameras presents some technical challenges. The client PC and graphics card must handle a significant flow of data. The best approach is to have the live view limited to only enough resolution for the video size and screen resolution of the display.

Today a typical approach to balance PC power requirements and quality uses lower resolution streams for live view, while recording in the highest resolutions. 4K resolution taxes the workload on the network because recording the highest resolution means the full stream content moves from the camera to the NVR.

3. Limitations on form factors, lenses
The availability of affordable high resolution optics is just not there yet, and a dome style camera with a typical curved dome bubble cannot transmit the 4K resolution. In addition, a true 8MP resolution lens with appropriate coverage for the 4K sensor is quite large, which would render a 4K version of the compact dome camera (the market’s favorite form factor) essentially not possible.  The dome camera would get physically bigger which, for many customers, is a negative.

4.  Bandwidth and storage requirements
From a cost perspective, quadrupling the resolution from full HD to 4K won’t quite double the camera price. However, on the recording side it will most definitely demand more than double the storage requirements when operating under the same conditions.

Bandwidth consumption is related to processor power available on the camera. For example, the average full HD cameras deliver about 6Mbps at 30 ips. On the bright side, some manufacturers are offering full HD models with advanced compression capabilities that can reduce bandwidth consumption to about 3Mbps, with the next iteration to handle 4K video at full HD bandwidth consumption levels. Additionally new compression standards such as H.265 HVEC (High Efficiency Video Encoding) will make higher resolution bandwidth more practical for surveillance.

So where does this leave you, 4K today or not just yet? For some customers a bigger number is frequently perceived as a better solution but surveillance installations should focus on the reason the system investment is being made in the first place; protection of personnel and protection of assets. It is far from a one size fits all decision and resolution is an important tool in the system solution.

 

Are you using 4k video cameras with your security system, if so, how has your experience been? Please leave me a comment below.

Keeping Eyes on Home with Video Surveillance System

Busy professionals are always trying to keep up with activities at home. As one of the U.K.’s premier broadcasters, Gabby Logan’s job has taken her to Poland, Ukraine, South Africa and back again.

The former gymnast turned sports presenter began her broadcast career in 1992 as a radio personality, and then quickly expanded into television with Sky Sports, ITV and BBC. Gabby has covered the London Olympics for BBC and England’s football team in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2012. Gabby also served a short stint in Brazil covering England’s football team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, making a quick return to the UK to present from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland beginning in late July.

To balance full time careers and life at home, Gabby and her husband Kenny, an ex Scotland International Rugby star, realized that they needed to implement some type of system that would allow her to keep an eye on things at home while she took care of business on road. Whether gone for the day, or away on a trip thousands of miles from England, a home security system that incorporated video surveillance was the solution Gabby needed to stay connected to her family when Kenny was back at home in charge of the family and property.

Working with Vindex Systems in West Sussex, a specialist integrator of CCTV, access control and automatic number plate recognition solutions that works with both public and private sector clients, the Logans selected a system from Tyco Security Products’ American Dynamics range that incorporated the VideoEdge Network Video Recorder (NVR) and Illustra 600 indoor/outdoor IP Mini-Dome cameras.

Using a monitor at home, Gabby and Kenny can actively watch the video from the cameras on the grounds, or view recorded video with the VideoEdge NVR. The system even allows the Logans to save snapshots of specific video images.

Video Surveillance SystemBut the real selling point of the system was the ability, through an iPhone application, to watch live and recorded video from her home surveillance system from anywhere she may be. Now, Gabby has the ability while on the road to check on her home, her family, and any situations that may occur through the VideoEdge Go app.

VideoEdge Go is a full-featured video surveillance viewer that delivers added value to the system and enhances the day-to-day experience by facilitating remote monitoring and forensic investigating from anywhere.

The free, downloadable app works with Logan’s iPhone or other Apple iOS device. And because the video is streamed via a wifi, 3G or 4G connection in H.264 rather than MJPEG, it takes up less space on whatever device she is using.

While England was competing in the World Cup in June, Gabby was onsite with the team, but also in touch with home through her surveillance system and the VideoEdge Go app.

Download the Gabby Logan case study for more details.

No more one size fits all – welcome to vertical view

Like the round peg trying unsuccessfully to fit into the square hole, many surveillance cameras have been similarly hampered by trying to reconcile their horizontal nature within a vertical video monitoring scenario.

Vertical ViewConsider all of the security-related situations in which a vertical camera image would be preferable over a horizontal one — policing the long, tall aisles in a big box store, home improvement center or supermarket; or watching over the straight, narrow corridors found in hospitals, schools, and even some office buildings.

In all of these instances, a vertical or portrait view of the scene would be preferable to a horizontal one. So rather than lock the user into a 16×9 horizontal world, if the user needs a full HD quality video stream, why not allow the maximum number of pixels to the field-of-view (FOV)?

Today most security cameras have been designed for the horizontal perspective so simply rotating the camera to a 9×16 FOV sounds easy enough, but the resulting video is simply a sideways oriented 16×9.  In addition to rotating the camera or effectively turning the imaging sensor on its side, the data recorded by each of the pixels on the sensor has to be rotated to reorient the video stream into a true 9×16 streaming HD video. Sounds simple, but doing so without quality loss or sacrificing video frame rate can be a challenge.

In theory, of course, it is possible to cover those narrow, vertical corridors and aisles with traditional landscape-style camera views, but it will take additional cameras — and additional cost — to achieve it. This is not only limited to camera and installation costs, because each of the cameras deployed will be recording additional scene area to the left and right of the center scene, which adds cost for bandwidth and storage to the overall cost calculation.

Fortunately, the industry is now responding with highly efficient mini-bullet and mini-dome cameras that have the higher-level processor and memory capacity so the camera can be placed in permanent portrait mode. It’s not just about switching the aspect ratio from 16:9 to 9:16 for these cameras, but it’s also about having sufficient horsepower to properly achieve and support this functionality with no residual impact on the camera’s resolution or frame rate performance.

By having cameras that reconcile properly with the space they are covering, operators will get the most complete, most usable images for active surveillance and forensic purposes. No more wondering what has been cut off from the picture, no more parsing together images to get a complete look.

And when these new cameras are made part of a larger system that includes an NVR with preconfigured layouts to accommodate the taller, narrow viewpoint, it becomes an even more ideal fit for viewing, archiving, and retrieving these images.

Kind of like putting that square peg into the square hole. It’s a perfect fit.

 

What other ways are/could you use a vertical view as part of your security solution? Let me know in the comments section below.

Fisheye cameras | Moving toward that perfect view

Having eyes in the back of your head — an attribute relegated to vigilant parents, strict librarians, and more than a few teachers — is a condition that would serve the security industry well. After all, who doesn’t want the ability to have eyes on the action, wherever it’s happening?

Since such forms of sight are a physical impossibility, security personnel have turned to cameras to be their all-seeing counterparts. The problem, however, is that even cameras don’t always capture every movement and moment in a critical scenario. Many cameras have fixed views and pan-tilt-zooms, and even with their wider range, can sometimes be looking in the wrong direction when they really need to be focused elsewhere.

Fisheye CamerasThus, the industry developed the fisheye technology or 360-degree cameras to provide that all-seeing viewpoint. As camera resolutions increase, the fisheye is turning out to be an especially advantageous choice for situational awareness within the retail industry, not only because these cameras fit their coverage needs, but also because stores can now lower their camera count and save a bit of money as well.

That’s not to say that the fisheye is limited to retail settings. These cameras, with their sweeping views (for example, 360 degrees if ceiling mounted or 180 degrees if wall mounted), are also ideal for university lecture halls, elevator banks, indoor parking areas, hospitals and casinos. As with all camera installations, it is important that camera selection is based on the combination of surveillance system needs and camera capabilities. For 360° cameras, the resolution “sweet-spot” for a 5MP fisheye capturing sufficient details is 20-25 feet. Due to the extreme wide angle lens, objects in the camera’s field of view beyond this distance will become too small to capture details. Thus, other types of cameras would better serve a large, outdoor parking lot application.

As with any component in a surveillance set up, the fisheye is at its best when used in concert with other cameras. For instance HD fixed cameras might be a better choice over the cash drawers, or multiple fisheyes could be used together to surround an HD PTZ unit that can zoom in and closely track events or suspicious individuals identified in the fisheye video. In some cases, however, a single fisheye can cover an entire room, such as classroom, without missing anything.

One challenge with the fisheye is the reality of image distortion at the edges, due to the ultra-wide field of view. Dewarping technology within the camera, as well as within the client, can address this problem and produce a corrected, flat view.

For security personnel, there can also be a learning curve as they become comfortable with navigating around the non-normalized or warped view. However, in an active surveillance situation, officers will want to work with the normalized view that can be produced on the edge by the camera or on the client-side with dewarping completed on the server.

The 360-degree fisheye camera expands the line of vision and takes surveillance into far corners not easily seen before. Over time, working with the views from this latest entrant into the video field will become second nature to surveillance system operators, and security personnel will relish having a new tool in their arsenal as they look to achieve all-seeing status.

 

Let me know other ways you are using Fisheye cameras by leaving a comment below.

Video ‘must haves’ for active surveillance

In the majority of surveillance situations, the end user is going to be using video forensically or sporadically, checking on situations that have occurred and using video to determine what happened or to help make a case against a perpetrator or tuning in to a specific incident that is under way.

Active Surveillance SecurityBut for some security officers, active, live video is the critical element. Casinos are users that are constantly monitoring surveillance cameras as the action unfolds in real time. So too with high-risk assets such as babies in the maternity ward or animals in a drug-testing facility: The more valuable the asset, the more intense the surveillance.

Fortunately, IP-based security systems have made many of the processes easier for those in active surveillance situations through the addition of analytics that can alert officers to potential situations; mobile and remote views of what is unfolding; cost savings, especially for large installations; and network-based redundancy.

Where IP-based surveillance has fallen short sometimes is with latency issues for cameras and monitors and network security. When viewing an ongoing incident, it’s critical that the cameras and monitors used have as low a latency issue as possible so those handling the surveillance can make the PTZ camera follow the action. When there is an active shooter or a kidnapping in progress, security personnel can’t afford to lose track of the person they are tracking.

As companies migrate to IP-based solutions, they are also finding that LED monitors have a higher latency issue than the old CRTs. Unfortunately, CRTs are being phased out, but it’s important to know that there can be latency problems created by the monitors when switching views among PTZs.

On the plus side, there are many advantages presented by the newest video management systemsthat improve performance during active surveillance situations and these should be on the “must have” list for anyone putting together a system designed for high-volume use. One of these issituational awareness through analytics, or getting alerts when activities out of the ordinary occur, such as someone entering through an exit.

In some scenarios, such as a shopping mall, there are plenty of open spaces or doorways that allow people to enter and exit, so deploying analytics for situational awareness may not be possible. In these cases, the IP system can provide another benefit through the use of multi-view, time-synched video.

Say, for example, there is an active shooter in the mall. Through the use of time-synched video, security can bring up the various camera views that show the shooting and then help create a timeline to show what happened from there — where the shooter started from, where the event occurred, where he is now, and so on. And this video can also be pushed to officers involved in tracking the shooter so they can see what is happening in real time, rather than relying on audio transmissions to tell them where to go and what to look for.

Because video in these instances is so important for forensic purposes, being able to “vault” the video — extract it from the recording — means it is saved for future viewing and you don’t run the risk of recording over it or losing it.

All of these factors are necessary for the proper design and execution of an IP video system aimed at addressing an active surveillance environment. So as you put together plans for a system, but sure to add these to your checklist.

 

For a more in-depth look at Active Surveillance and some solutions that address the “must have” features, please watch my recorded Webinar:

Recorded Webinar - Active Surveillance Environments

 

What challenges are you having with your active surveillance? Please leave me a comment below.