For its visitor protection program, the Seminole Tribal Museum in Florida has gone high-definition for its surveillance needs. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum houses a 10,000-piece collection of archives and artifacts relating to the Seminole Indian tribe of Florida. Located on the Big Cypress reservation in Hendry County, Fla., the museum consists of three buildings on 64 acres of land.

When the Seminole Tribe of Florida wanted to upgrade visitor security at its historic museum, they turned to a unique video solution. More recently, the Tribe agreed to acquire assets of the Hard Rock facilities from UK-based Rank Organization.

Beyond such recent financial news, the Tribe has a long and rich history. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum houses a 10,000-piece collection of archives and artifacts relating to the Seminole Indian tribe of Florida. Located on the Big Cypress reservation in Hendry County, Fla., the museum consists of three buildings on 64 acres of land.

Because the museum is on the reservation, there are other properties – such as the tribal headquarters and a nearby casino – that also have security needs. So when the tribe decided to upgrade security for one facility, they looked to see what others needed as well. The museum was on that list.

For its visitor protection program, the Seminole Tribal Museum in Florida has gone high-definition for its surveillance needs. The system also protects rare tribal artifacts that are priceless.

“There is no gaming on our property,” said Gene Davis, museum operations manager. “But about a quarter mile away there is a small casino. We are just as concerned with the safety of our property and exhibits as with our visitors. Safety was a big concern.”

The museum had an existing video system, but it was an older model with very limited capabilities.

“In the past we combined patrols and video,” Davis said. “We had an old system with video tapes and selective recording.”

When the tribe decided to update the video system, one of the criteria the museum had was to “ensure coverage of the entire property and have the ability to keep archived video,” said Anne McCudden, museum director. “We were really looking for good detail and high quality of video.”

“Our main concern was being able to record events in high definition to capture even the smallest details and provide a wider field of view,” Davis adds. “You cannot be everywhere at one time. With the older system we had a very limited field of view.”


The video system the tribe chose for the museum was not one step up from the old system – it was a whole different universe.

The CoVi High Definition IP system can both be seen live and be recorded in high definition. “The Crystal HD is a complete surveillance solution,” said Barry Walker, President and CEO, CoVi Technologies, Inc.

Such systems use a distributed architecture. The camera and distributed media manager (for streaming and recording video) have a one-to-one relationship, enabling high definition video to be recorded using zero network bandwidth. This architecture also increases storage, maximizes utilization of the network and ensures that the quality of video needed for forensics is available when and where needed, without compromising the network.

For Davis, the image quality is paramount. “There is no more second guessing or poor image quality,” he said. “This system is the only high definition video surveillance system in the world. Now we get superior details and the ability to zoom in helps us identify vehicles, tag numbers and people.”

“Another feature of the system is that it uses multistream technology.” Walker explained. “You can view and record any or all of six different video resolutions from lowest resolution to high definition. For instance, remote operators may want to monitor live video at a lower resolution, but if they see an area of interest they can ‘boost’ the specific area, or the whole video to high definition on demand. All the while, high definition video is being recorded to ensure reliable post-event analysis.”  

The installation at the museum was completed in July. “Everything went pretty smoothly,” Davis said. “We were open for business during the actual installation and the system was up and running in a very short amount of time, causing no disruption of business.”


“Here at the museum we are still concerned with criminal activity and the protection of customers and artifacts,” Davis said. “Our entire public access property is now covered with this system. We have a visual record of what’s happening right now. We can also retrieve what has happened. With the old system we were just guessing. We had to hope something recorded.”

Davis was responsible for deciding where the cameras would be located and what they would view.

“We set it up by the visitor flow,” he said. “We can track them when they are coming down the public highway, when they turn into the parking lot, when they are leaving their cars and coming toward our facility. We pick them up at the front, in back, in the picnic areas, on the boardwalk areas. Then, if they happen to be a researcher or student allowed access to non-public areas, we can pick them up there.”

“We have camera locations set up in the galleries where the public can come through. A lot of our exhibits in those galleries have monitor stations so we can see if anyone tries to touch or tamper or photograph. We’re watching…in high definition.”

One of the main benefits to the system, Davis said, is it allows them to maintain a high level of customer service, while still keeping an eye on safety and security.

“If we see something on the monitor, it’s our approach that it’s recorded and we know we have factual information on our side. When we approach someone, that is to our advantage. We can stay on the side of politeness. We still have to be in welcoming mode. But we know from what we have seen on the video -- which is now a lot more detailed -- whether we need to have law enforcement involved, or whether it’s just a safety issue.”

Most of the cameras are set up to view a wide field, Davis said. “We can scan a large area. Some of the ones in the museum are adjusted to a smaller field of view because we are concerned with a certain area. Also, during closing time we can track customers and have a pretty good idea exactly where they are at.”

For Davis, probably the main advantage to the new system is the clarity and reliability, and the ease of use for museum employees.

“We feel more secure than we were before,” he said. “We have the ability to track visitors through the entire facility. It frees up manpower for our people. We can go back and look at things that happened a lot quicker than before. It’s more economical for us, a better use of manpower and it is user friendly. That is a big factor. Most of our people are working on multiple projects. The less time they have to spend working on any one thing is to the advantage of the museum.”

In the end, Davis is pleased with the system.

“It’s exactly what they say,” he said. “The detail and the ability to retrieve high definition video from the past is exactly how they promoted it. We are very satisfied.”

SIDEBAR: Need More Visitor ID Smarts?
Check These 10 Critical Factors

This checklist provides a quick rundown of 10 critical factors to evaluate video analytics, according to Agent Vi.

1.  Standards-based
Video analytics is not standalone technology.  Compatibility with network and video equipment is essential for optimum performance.  Open, standards-based systems are mandatory.

2.  Real-time operation
This seems like a no-brainer, but real-time monitoring and real-time alerts are crucial capabilities.  You want your video analytics to detect the threat as it is unfolding, issuing an immediate alert so that proper action can be taken to avert the event.

3.  Site-specific rules
Due to cost constraints, most video analytics systems offer a limited number of detections – usually just one, maybe two -- per camera, and the same one or two detections for all cameras in the system.  While you can select which one or two detections are installed, most enterprise-grade organizations, both public and private, need to detect several different types of security threats in some locations and an entirely different set of threats at others.

4.  Environmental conditions
Environmental conditions are another critical factor in successfully deploying video analytics.  The system should be fully operable in both indoor and outdoor locations, in full daylight and in deepening shadows, under artificial lighting or glaring sunlight, under adverse and varying weather conditions.  The software should compensate for background interference.

5.  Reliability
Beware.  While current video analytics systems are far more accurate that their predecessors, accuracy claims bear close scrutiny. The question to ask is under what conditions the reliability measurements were taken.

6.  Scalability
Similarly, every provider claims that their system is scalable, allowing you to add new cameras – one at a time — expanding your system from ten to ten thousand cameras. It’s true.  But at what cost?

7.  Affordability
Given that all video analytics systems are scalable, the issue is really whether the scalability if affordable.  If adding just one camera is cost-prohibitive at varying stages of expansion needs, then the system can hardly be described as scalable.  The ratio of cameras per server is a major budget and expansion consideration.

8.  Cameras
Selecting the right cameras is as critical as selecting the right video analytics.  Certainly you want a system that supports the full range of camera technologies – analog, digital, IP, IFR/thermal – so that it can be integrated with an existing surveillance system.  But even as you introduce new high-end capabilities, you don’t need the highest-end cameras in all locations.

9.  User-friendliness
This is not a trivial point.  Training time and costs can be a backbreaker in the security sector. Look for a system that is intuitive to operate so that it is easily and quickly learned.

10.  Security needs
Understanding specific security needs is fundamental in determining what is the right video analytics package for your organization.  Look for the system that best matches your needs.