Digital Scalability, Quality Images at Heart of ID Business Needs

July 1, 2007
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With casinos such as French Lick leading the way, digital video emphasizes image quality and documentation.


Enterprises seeking reasons to move to digital security video look to scalability and image quality as tipping points. One example is the gaming industry that has consistently explored leading edge security technologies.

Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and it is inevitable that wherever there is an exchange of large amounts of money, there is a need for heightened security measures. Today’s odds are on digital video surveillance for the protection of gaming assets. The reliability and picture quality of digital video systems are well documented and the capital saved in maintenance and labor is equally compelling.

Digital video is simply faster, more scalable and easier to manage than analog. It can be integrated with existing security video analog installations to offer instantaneous access to recorded or live video, shared storage and higher quality images that won’t degrade over time. Digital video storage allows particular images to be retrieved as easily as opening a file based on criteria such as date, time, location, camera number, special index numbers, etc. Digital video storage eliminates the need to store hundreds of space consuming VCR tapes and archived material does not deteriorate with time.

Security video must distinguish face cards, suits and monetary denominations.

EMPAHSIS ON IMAGE ID

Gaming surveillance systems require exceptional picture quality to distinguish face cards, suits and monetary denominations from long distances. They also must support hundreds, if not thousands, of cameras, running all day, everyday and must have the ability to integrate with business networks, point-of-sale (POS), access control, slots and matrix switches. In recent years, the job of monitoring gaming activities has become easier with enhancements in digital video technology. Previously relegated to a role of security surveillance only, advancements in digital video technology now make it a viable solution for critical gaming surveillance purposes.

With more than 1,200 slot machines, 34 table games and a 12-table poker room all running 24 hours a day and 365 days per year, French Lick Casino personnel are continuously occupied monitoring a multitude of transpiring events. This challenging environment demands a highly evolved video solution, which is why the premier resort has chosen Synectics Systems, Inc. of Carpinteria, California to provide the digital video surveillance system for its specific needs. Synectics Systems’ digital recording solutions are sophisticated video capture, storage and analysis tools manufactured by a company that has acquired a unique understanding of gaming operation requirements. Synectics Systems provides analog, digital and IP integrated product solutions that enable the fast, accurate and reliable control critical to gaming surveillance.

Wes Fleetwood, surveillance director at French Lick Resort Casino, commented, “The fact that the system is scalable and, therefore, able to deal with the demands of an establishment of this size, as well as its ability to easily integrate with other systems, was key to its selection. Currently, the system records over 400 Pelco analog cameras, which are controlled via a Synectics command and control user interface. The video system is also interfaced with a POS system and a DSX access control system.”

Added John Katnic of Synectics Systems, “Today’s highly engineered digital video systems demand a unique combination of IP networking, enterprise storage and security video integration software.”

International Electronic Protection (IEP) of Scottsdale, Ariz., French Lick Casino’s security system integrator, is in security and surveillance integration, which services, engineers and installs security applications such as access control, security video, biometric control and perimeter protection. Tim Lyvers formerly of IEP, now CEO of Advanced Digital Systems, commented on their selection process, “In the initial phase we provided a presentation of concept and design to the property owners and upper management, after which a demonstration was made by the manufacturer (Synectics) and IEP to the Indiana Gaming Commission to gain their approval of the digital system for use in Indiana casinos. Not only was approval granted, but currently, the solution is the only completely digital system being used in an Indiana casino.”

REDUNDANCY NEEDS

Digital video recording provides multiple layers of system fail over and redundancy for maximum up time and yet the system is extremely easy to use for recording, playback, incident management and operator reviews – all essential requirements in the casino environment. It provides French Lick Casino with motion picture quality video and the ability to simultaneously monitor and record data from hundreds of cameras, again, vital capabilities for gaming security and surveillance.

There are critical decisions to be made to insure successful operations of gaming facilities. Digital video systems can provide much more than just security and surveillance to casino, hotel and resort management; they can also provide information necessary for making business decisions about how the facilities are run. Digital surveillance can also help to deter criminal activity, while they track “high-rollers” and monitor all pertinent areas of the facility.

Digital surveillance systems provide a large measure of safety, security and return on investment, but one can’t help but wonder how history might have been different if today’s DVRs were available in the resorts’ early days. Would Diamond Jim Brady have been quite as gluttonous if he had known there were digital recordings of his eating orgies to review? Would Al Capone or John Dillinger have been quickly recognized and captured before wreaking so much criminal havoc? The answer to these rhetorical questions will remain a mystery, but it is no mystery that a Synectics digital video solution has made an ideal security partner for Indiana’s oldest and newest gaming resort.

SIDEBAR: Historic Facility

Tucked away in Southern Indiana, a previously Roaring Twenty’s era resort has been converted to a modern day hot spot for business and pleasure. A recent restoration and expansion project combines two of Indiana’s greatest treasures - the French Lick Springs?Hotel and its sister property, the West Baden Springs Hotel - with a new 42,000 square foot casino to form a luxurious, new resort and casino destination in French Lick, Indiana. By combining the latest in technological advancements with historical charm and sumptuous amenities, a resort and casino destination to rival any in Las Vegas is now a proud gem of Orange County.

Blue Sky Casino LLC, a joint venture of Lauth Resorts & Casino, an affiliate of Lauth Group Inc. in Indianapolis, and Orange County Holdings Inc., of Bloomington, Indiana have administered the restoration and renovation of the hotels, which are both listed in the National Register of Historic Landmarks. Originally opened at the turn of the 20th century, the two historic hotels became Jazz Age playgrounds where, prior to the Great Depression, rich, famous and notorious persons of every type regularly patronized the hotels and lounged in the area’s pools of medicinal mineral water. Guests were also known to frequent the casinos that dotted The Valley. Notable guests included “Diamond Jim” Brady, Al Capone, John Dillinger, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bob Hope and Duke Ellington, to name a few.

The French Lick Casino, centerpiece of this $382 million restoration and development project, opened for business in November 2006 after receiving the Indiana Gaming Commission’s (IGC) final seal of approval. An unusual requirement of the IGC is that gaming establishments must be nautically themed, therefore the French Lick Casino facility - surrounded on one side by a small lake - sports a riverboat-theme complete with paddlewheel, smokestacks and a pilothouse adorned with a stunning 35 foot high stained-glass dome.

SIDEBAR: Better ID of Employees, Customers

Biometrics may play a great role in gaming security. There are a number of biometrics approaches.

The latest – multispectral imaging technology, according to Bill Spence. At ISC, he told Security Magazine that Lumidigm’s sensors use multispectral imaging to collect information from below the surface of the skin. It has developed a multispectral imaging technology that is able to collect additional information from below the surface of the skin. The multispectral imaging sensor has two main components: a light source and an imaging system. Unlike other sensors, these components are designed and configured expressly to avoid the total internal reflectance phenomenon. The multispectral imaging system uses multiple illumination wavelengths rather than the quasi-monochromatic illumination commonly used for other imaging. The orthogonal configuration of linear polarizers emphasizes this multispectral light, which penetrates the surface of the skin. The light then undergoes multiple scattering events before emerging from the skin toward the image array.

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