If one were to take a sample poll for the definition of convergence, it’s quite likely there would be as many variations in the responses as the number of individuals polled.
Answers might range from broad characterizations of technology convergence such as a common IT platform system to more succinct, application specific integration solutions, to vendor partnerships, depending on one’s perspective.
From a system integrator’s perspective, one definition of convergence would be using available information (data) from a variety of sources to enhance traditional security systems and expand methodology to address risk management and loss prevention. Casinos have taken the lead in implementing this type of converged system, where data from business and facility operations is merged with input from various security systems to create a single, all-inclusive point of control.
Getting Complete PictureFor example, traditional security technology, such as access control, video surveillance, fire/alarm/event monitoring and identification systems is integrated with business applications, such as point-of-sale in food, beverage and retail areas, slot data, counting devices in cage and coin exchange locations, human resources data and player tracking. This convergence of data provides security management with the advantage of a complete picture of their establishment, in real-time, and a recorded history of all events.
Further, more than just interfacing these operations, convergence allows the various applications to reside on a single platform and share programmed commands so the system operates as a single entity and makes the management of electronic data more powerful and uncompromised. For instance, a centralized and automated system can be programmed to link processes within an application and if an event occurs matching a set of pre-defined circumstances, the system will archive the transaction data along with the multiple video feeds for each event as well as sending an alert.
Speed CountsAnother enhancement provided by convergence is speed. Access to the relevant data in a timely manner is as crucial to the business concerns of a casino as it is to its security; and a networked system is key to achieving this speed. Digital video surveillance systems, network storage, access control and identification systems based on open architecture and other IP-based devices, all found in a networked system, are supported by sophisticated data and event management software which allows fast, comprehensive forensic-type analysis in real time or in a follow up investigation.
When compared to stand-alone systems, calls from the gaming floor to the surveillance room for review of a discrepancy with a customer can be addressed and resolved in moments rather than hours. Video walls and large screen monitors, full cross point matrix switchers and user friendly graphical user interfaces with video overlays and/or mapping have also added to the speed of access and assessment.
As has often been the case, casinos have been at the forefront on the path to this type of convergence. The reason for this is that new casinos are being built on a regular basis and with these new facilities come the opportunity for systems integrators to take advantage of state of the art security technologies. When the Wynn Las Vegas opened in 2005, it was touted as having the largest and most sophisticated digital video surveillance and security system ever. A scant year later, that title was passed to a sister property, the Wynn Macau.
The pioneering efforts of the gaming industry and the foresight of certain individuals with regard to embracing digital technology and the concept and implementation of convergence has had a beneficial effect on the entire industry. Manufacturers are designing intelligence and open architecture into their products; system integrators and service providers are partnering to provide core expertise under a single banner; and customers are reaping the benefits of improved efficiencies, return on investment and most importantly, more effective security.