IP cameras – in a wireless configuration – must blend into the historic Northampton Hotel.

We have implemented (a) new solution for the security and safety of our guests and employees. The system is key to the prevention and documentation of an event…that is extensible to address emerging security needs, contended Mansour Ghalibaf, general manager at the Hotel Northampton in Massachusetts.

The historical architecture and preservation requirements made it impossible to run coaxial cables for an analog surveillance system. In addition, aesthetic demands required the use of inconspicuous video cameras that could blend in with the hotel’s elegant and historic interior décor.

Staff and security can access the system thanks to a versatile software-based platform.


Viocen Inc. of Maynard, Mass., installed a wireless IP video surveillance system with Milestone (Beaverton, Ore.) XProtect Professional software managing cameras from Axis Communications (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Toshiba (Irvine, Calif.), set up both indoors and outdoors. Viocen is also implementing wireless door sensors integrated with the surveillance system, triggered to record on activation.

The Hotel Northampton is now well protected with an efficient, cost-effective and easy to use IP video surveillance system that suits the special environment requirements, and is scalable for handling any future needs.

Northampton, Mass., in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, is known as an intellectual and artistic community. In the heart of town is the Hotel Northampton, established in 1927. As a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it is registered as one of the valuable Historic Hotels of America, representing the heritage and development of the nation. The carefully preserved architectural beauty, historic richness and charm of this gracious hotel reflect founder Lewis Wiggins’s love for the Colonial Revival style and antique furnishings. Wiggins Tavern, established in 1786, was moved from Hopkinton, New Hampshire, and reassembled on the hotel site in 1930.

Today the Hotel Northampton is an elegant, full service hospitality establishment with 106 guest rooms, multiple restaurants, bars, function rooms and ballrooms. About 120 employees take care of 50,000 visitors yearly.

Securing assets

The Hotel Northampton did not previously have any surveillance system. But starting last year, security has been managed with the new system. A customer of Viocen Internet Services for more than three years, the hotel followed its partner’s recommendations for the IP network approach. After the new IP system was installed, an incident did occur for which the recorded material was used to identify the perpetrator and resolve the matter.

The historic qualities of the hotel that lend it special charm also brought a unique challenge for the systems integrator. “Due to the spread out layout of the hotel and the antique nature of the building, in some locations it was impossible to install any kind of wiring,” explained Bill Mitchell of Viocen. “The IP network is, therefore, a combination of wired CAT 5, fiber optic transmission and wireless.”

“Because of the hotel’s antique architecture and preservation requirements, it was impossible to run coax lines. The wireless IP camera approach was the only solution. Due to the aesthetic requirements, we also had to use inconspicuous cameras that blended with the interior settings,” added Merhdad Sheik, also from Viocen. “The cameras are predominantly from Axis Communications but we added other manufacturers’ models to meet the customer’s specific requirements. Because we ended up with a mixed multi-vendor camera environment, Milestone was the best and the only choice.”

Pan, tilt, zoom cameras from AXIS Communications and other vendors are at the heart of image collection inside and outside the hotel.

Wireless door sensors

The XProtect software was selected not only for its support of the widest choice in network hardware, full feature set and robust, reliable operations, but also because its open platform allows integration with other devices.

In addition to cameras in the public areas of the hotel, the system will also monitor nine fire exit doors by using wireless sensors attached to those doors. The wireless door sensors “are fed directly into the closest IP cameras, 200 meters away from the Milestone network video recorder. This would have been totally non-feasible or very costly with analog cameras and DVRs,” claimed Sheik.

“All the cameras are set up through the XProtect software to record on motion into the image database, and the Axis 231D Pan Tilt Zoom camera auto-patrols the parking area,” said Mitchell. “We also utilize the control mechanisms in the cameras to respond to an event such as a door open alarm or motion. This event triggers a visible notification on the Milestone screen to alert the operator of the event and to view the feed from the responding camera. Without the IP camera system, they would have to dispatch an employee into an unknown situation to respond to the event. Now they have instant visual assessment and recorded video of the situation prior to dispatching the individual. The operator can now make a sound judgment to respond or alert the proper authority. This allows the hotel to better protect its guests and employees.”

Remote access

The hotel’s front desk personnel, as well as the security staff, use the software platform to manage the surveillance. The general manager was the first to have rights to the remote access capability, using the full XProtect Remote Client software. The system users can receive alerts or see overviews of alarms, view live or recorded images from all of the cameras simultaneously, search and quickly find any activity archived in the server’s database. Images can be exported to share with local authorities, if necessary.