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Video Surveillance

When Intelligent Video Turns Business Sensible

October 1, 2011
Trans

Brains or beauty? Both are bundled into many of today’s enterprise-sized security video designs, which intelligently apply technology, smartly migrate from analog to digital and wisely solve challenges both security and business related.

Paul Drabinski shares a security challenge with thousands of other enterprise security leaders: when and how to grow their video systems and when and how to migrate from analog to digital video.

Drabinski, a corporate security manager at Kaleida Health Services in Buffalo, N.Y., along with his security colleagues there, worked with integrator Jeremy McAfee of Life Safety Security, and Kaleida’s IT operation on a recent enhancement to security video while also intelligently designing and following a migration plan among analog and digital cameras. More often these days, some parts of the security operation “now touch the [IT supported] network,” says McAfee.

The largest healthcare provider in western New York State, Kaleida Health Services built upon existing though sometimes different security systems at various facilities. The total operation is busy and facilities diverse. More than one million sick or injured patients are seen annually at places including Buffalo General Hospital, DeGraff Memorial Hospital, Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and numerous community healthcare centers.

 

A SMART BALANCE

Mirroring the vastness of the total operation and its overall strategy of decentralization based on specific facilities and missions while balanced by centralization of functions and services that make business sense, security likewise strikes a similar balance, according to John Strait, a Kaleida corporate security manager.

In total, there are more than 500 IP and analog cameras from Vicon Industries as well as network video recorder and digital video recorder systems (ViconNet) at the numerous facilities.

Depending on location and specific needs, “we also have low light and infrared as well as wireless cameras,” says Drabinski, who adds that there also is integration of security video with access controls and emergency call boxes.

For emergency unit protection, “we have specially trained officers, video, panic alarms as well as a close collaboration with law enforcement and their cameras on streets” near and around some of the facilities, comments Drabinski.

In a state-of-art control center, overseen by Drabinski, there are six virtual matrix display controllers or VMDCs. The VMDC is a self-contained, matrix control solution for the ViconNet video management system providing users with the ability to direct network video to multiple monitor displays. The solution is comprised of both a matrix command/control center software interface and a hardware decoding component that enables remote network video streams to be displayed on multiple monitors in multiple locations. The design enables each operator to display any camera on any monitor connected to the network. Camera selection may be controlled via a dedicated keypad or by using the graphical user interface.

There is also some video analytics such as motion detection “in locations and at times when people should not be there,” observes Ron Aldinger, a corporate security manager at Kaleida Health Services.

 

EASE OF OPERATION

In addition to a video wall in the command center, there is attention to operator needs, too. Points out Drabinski, “We designed the video monitoring desk to raise and lower ergonomically to allow the technology to work in a comfortable place. We want to leverage technology in a comfortable working place.”

Commenting on the gains security has made in the intelligent use of technology, Aldinger says it could not happen “without top leadership support” and who view technology as a tool to help provide a safe and secure environment. He credits David Croston, Kaleida Health’s vice president and chief technology officer, with an ability to envision business benefits of security tools and with listening to the security executives on current and future needs.

Speaking of intelligence, it is debatable how much smarts a blind cave-dwelling amphibian has, but some can live to 100 years or more, although the European cave salamander (Proteus anguinus) is highly endangered.

Which is why the Tular Cave Laboratory in Slovenia was established by Marko Aljancic, a biologist specializing in subterranean species, who populated the laboratory with the salamanders. The laboratory maintains 40 Proteus in four large laboratory pools to simulate their natural cave environment, with clay on the bottom and rocks for hiding. Experiments are based on observation and designed not to harm or stress the animals.

So a real-time and long-term video monitoring system was needed to provide a level of security as well as observe behavioral experiments and obtain adequate information on Proteus behavior. The system needed to use motion detection to avoid capturing useless video of long periods of Proteus inactivity, and also needed to provide a reasonable balance of video data quantity, quality and required storage capacity. Video cameras needed to capture clear details to provide additional information to help the laboratory design new studies. The system would need to use infrared so as not to disturb the animals, which are stressed when their skin senses the visible spectrum of light. Eventually, the system would need to incorporate five to seven cameras that would be permanently mounted and combined into a 24/7 monitoring system accessible over the Internet.

  

SPECIALIZED CAMERAS

The solution:  megapixel cameras connected to a computer running Arecont Vision software as the video management system. The camera is mounted directly above the monitored pool (3 to 6 feet away) or experimental aquarium (1 to 3 feet away). Because of high humidity and dripping water, the camera is enclosed in a plastic waterproof housing. The laboratory plans to install a permanent system by year end, using five to eight cameras with 24/7 monitoring and tied into an Internet connection to the cave.

Above ground, and yet another intelligent solution, integrates video surveillance and door access control to protect firehouse staff and property, as reported by Steve Sleicher of IPVideo Corporation.

The fire department in the hamlet of Bay Shore on Long Island, N.Y., works hard to control costs and protect its community’s high-end investment in firefighting equipment and gear. “It costs $2,000 just to outfit a firefighter in pants and a coat. It costs $400 for the helmet and another $250 for a set of boots,” says Joel Moreira, district manager for the Bay Shore Fire Department. “So we can’t afford to have gear go missing.”

The Board of Fire Commissioners wanted to create a single, unified physical security system that would allow dispatchers to centrally monitor activity at its bustling central firehouse and two unmanned, fully-equipped substations. They installed an IPVideo Sentry video management system (VMS) that integrated an array of Axis Communications network cameras and an Identicard door access control systems at each site. Dispatchers can now remotely manipulate cameras at all three locations from the headquarters’ security office and verify the identity of anyone entering and leaving the premises or loitering in the parking lots.

 

FORENSICS USE

The VMS allows Moreira to arrange the mosaic of streaming video any way he wants: by camera number, name or location. It also time stamps recorded video to speed archive retrieval in an investigation. Administrators can copy video clips to CD for law enforcement or their own files, as well as print still images of a particular frame.

 

VIDEO MATCHED WITH MESH

Another intelligent video design, that includes a wireless mesh network, centers on ordinance of a different and often tragic kind – street violence.

Under the leadership and urging of Alderman Antonio French, the city of St. Louis has launched an initiative to make one of its most violent districts, the 21st Ward, a much safer place through a combination of initiatives. One is installation of surveillance cameras in key locations and working directly with the community to institute neighborhood watch programs. The design includes a Firetide wires mesh network.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” French tells Securitymagazine. He started with the worst blocks in the 21st Ward to rebuild houses as well as work with the city’s police department to determine the best locations to install cameras to deter drug dealers and violent criminals.

The real-time video system transmits evidence-grade video to the Ward’s office, the downtown police station and a community-based patrol station, where trained operators can view the cameras and alert ground crews to an ongoing incident and help get immediate response.

“This new surveillance system will be the backbone of our efforts to make the 21st Ward a safer place for all of its residents. We dream of a neighborhood that is free of drug dealing and people engaging in violence,” says French. “Until that time comes, the biggest value of the system is to provide evidence to the court systems after a crime occurs.

“The more I learned about the success of other cities such as Newark and Chicago using a wireless network for surveillance, the more this approach made sense,” adds French.

He also has plans to expand the network, which can handle more than just video, to community members when they are in a local park or public area.

Bright Ideas for Security Video

When it comes to bringing in security video, upgrading a system, or migrating from analog to digital, there are smart moves that can lead to brains and beauty in a purchase.

The biggest challenge is to manage expectations. According to Jim Henry of influential integrator Henry Brothers of New York City, enterprise security leaders may expect more than the technology can deliver or expect more than their budget can afford.

This article spotlights successful applications that provide myriad security and business benefits. Among them:

  • Kaleida Health Services – A wise migration plan to digital and a nifty command center. The key: an organization with technology vision.
  • Tular Cave Laboratory – Think out of the box and underground. The key: specialized cameras and a robust video management system.
  • Bay Shore Fire Department – Integrate network video with access control. The key: tracking by end user identification of streaming video.
  • Webster Central School District – Time to move to a fully digital system. The key: match locations to type of camera.
  • Full Throttle Saloon – Biking the smart road during a huge event. The key: HD cameras that pinpoint trouble in a crowd.
  • Naval Ordinance – A combination of analog cameras and fiber. The key: a tight design with connection to other systems, too.
  • The 21st Ward – In St. Louis, a street-side system that deters and identifies. The key: combining video with wireless mesh.

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