Dome cameras provide optimal identification capabilities for busy escalators that lead to the walkway to a parking deck through the doors above.

 Seen from the other direction, an interior walkway leads through the food court to the escalators.

Downtown Norfolk, Virg. has been transformed in the last 20 years. By the late 1970s, many retail establishments had left the city. During the day, office workers populated the area, but at night, the dark and empty streets were not considered safe. The waterfront area, once busy with transport-related commerce, was a silent ruin. However, in the early 1980s the city underwent a renaissance as businesses began to return.

The Waterside Festival Marketplace, locally known as The Waterside, has proved to be a magnet for new hotels, office buildings and tourist attractions. Soon after The Waterside opened in 1983, downtown Norfolk became clean, attractive and is still booming even today.

The Waterside, located at the mouth of the Elizabeth River, encompasses numerous specialty retail stores, an international food court, plus several sit-down restaurants and night clubs under one roof, and has become a major day-to-night draw both for tourists and residents. The surrounding area offers daily boat cruises and ferries at the adjacent waterfront. The location is served by public transit, and covered parking is available in several nearby garages.

The Waterside Festival Marketplace, located in Norfolk, Virg. (locally known as The Waterside) has proved to be a magnet for new hotels, office buildings and tourist attractions. The Waterside has recently upgraded its surveillance system with cameras, DVRs and a Matrix Switching System. The Norfolk, Virg. area began bustling with tourists and businesses after The Waterside was built in the early 80s.


When it came time to consider upgrading the physical security at The Waterside, general manager Lane Brown decided to add to their existing infrastructure by choosing digital video. “For us, it was a question of cost vs. value,” said Brown. “We had looked through references and found good reviews on the Internet as well. Also, Steve Wilkins, who is the operations manager here, and I have both had experience with Panasonic Security Systems at Military Circle, a one-million square foot shopping center in Norfolk.”

The previously existing system at The Waterside included 16 cameras that fed into a DVR and another seven cameras that were connected to an older VCR. Working with Tri-Tronics Ltd., a video surveillance, electronic security and audio communications specialist based in Virginia, Brown added two new DVRs with 16 channels and six additional vandal-proof day/night color dome cameras to the system. “We added cameras and put some outside and into other locations in the mall that needed more coverage,” said Brown.

“One area within the mall that needs the most surveillance would be the food court,” said Brown. “During the week we sometimes have entertainment, and that location draws a much larger crowd. On the weekends we have a late-night crowd, so it’s important to monitor the door adjacent to the crosswalk where it crosses over Waterside Drive. The crowds disperse at 2:00 in the morning.” In addition, Brown noted that with multiple tenants bringing waste to the dumpsters, it can be useful to review surveillance data when garbage is found all over the loading dock in the morning. “We can go right over and see who did it.”

Vandal-proof color dome cameras protect the Waterside Drive area in front of the mall, where cabs pick up late-night departing guests. The units feature Day/Night operation to deliver the highest quality images in any lighting condition.


At The Waterside, surveillance data is archived and monitored in real-time when warranted. “We have an in-house security staff of 11 and there is somebody here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The building is locked down between 2:00 am and 7:00 am, when the cleaning crew comes in,” said Brown.

“We can easily access the recorded video directly from the DVRs or through the matrix switcher and often use the video surveillance system to review incidents after the fact. We can go back in time and review any and all cameras to see where an incident started and how it followed through. This has been useful countless times to verify what actually happened.

“For example, there was one incident in which someone was injured, and the story we were given turned out to be very inaccurate,” said Brown. “The parents [of those involved] were very much up in arms and were prepared to start causing all kinds of legal problems. But when we watched the recorded footage, we got a completely different story on the sequence of events.

“We consult surveillance recordings obtained with our video surveillance system two or three times a week to go back and investigate something to see what really happened,” added Brown.

In addition, the video surveillance system has been a helpful tool for law enforcement officials. “We have provided information to the local police department,” said Brown. “I have had police officers come over with reports they believe to be accurate. We verify and supplement their reports by accessing the video footage of an incident and reviewing it from start to finish from different camera angles.”

In addition to cameras and DVRs, the upgraded system at The Waterside will include four new CRT monitors and one 42-inch plasma display. “The CRTs will be placed into a security/information kiosk in the food court area, to give the security officer a place to be and to serve as reinforcement to visitors that there is a surveillance function in the area for their safety and security,” said Brown.

“Tri-Tronics Ltd. has been with us for close to ten years, and we’ve seen them design some of the top systems in the area. They helped us design the system originally, but we do our own troubleshooting when there is a problem with a connection,” said Brown. “We have had essentially no problems with the equipment, which made it an easy choice when it came time to upgrade.”

SIDEBAR: The System Specs

Working with Tri-Tronics Ltd., a video surveillance, electronic security and audio communications specialist based in Virginia and North Carolina, The Waterside Festival Marketplace added two new Panasonic WJ-HD300A Series DVRs with 16 channels and six additional Panasonic Super Dynamic Vandal-Proof Day/Night Color Dome Cameras to the system. “We added cameras and put some outside and into other locations in the mall that needed more coverage,” said The Waterside’s general manager Lane Brown.

The enhanced video surveillance system is controlled with help from Panasonic’s WJ-SX550 Matrix Switching System to provide advanced automated camera tour switching sequences, alarm/event triggered operations and programmable monitoring assignments. The powerful matrix switching system is expandable to accommodate future growth and satellite monitoring and control locations. Panasonic’s fixed cameras are used in HVAC areas to monitor equipment status and contractors that provide service.

The Waterside’s DVRs provide over 500 TVL, high-density recording with full rate live multi-screen resolution and a base disk capacity of 250GB that’s expandable to 7.5 terabytes. Featuring Panasonic’s Super Dynamic technology, WV-CW474A Vandal-Proof Color Dome Cameras eliminate common backlighting problems that typically impair most surveillance installations. The units feature Day/Night operation to deliver images in any lighting condition and feature high-impact resistant domes with spring-mounted lenses for demanding locations.