To determine the precise system it should use, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center conducted a 30-day on-site trial period of various networked video products.

Productivity isn’t a word you hear very often in the realm of security, but Robert Noonan, public safety manager of technology for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), says this digital video system makes security officers more productive.     
“We are no longer wasting time searching minute-by-minute or frame-by-frame for video,” said Noonan, who uses an IP video management and control software solution to translate video from numerous cameras on multiple sites into usable information for his public safety team. “We are able to search intelligently through the software with such programs as smart search and motion sequence search. Also, customization of the user interface allows our trained staff to be more productive.”
Digital video enables MCCA’s team of public safety managers, supervisors and officers to watch over its multiple high-profile public venues. MCCA owns and oversees operation of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., and the Boston Common Garage. The Authority’s public safety team handles security, including access control, foot patrol and emergency response, for the various sites and for events they host.
Security is an essential component to allow the MCCA to meet its goal of generating significant regional economic activity by attracting conventions, trade shows and other events to its world-class facilities, while maximizing the investment return for residents and businesses in Massachusetts. The IP video management and control software solution is integral to their security and public safety effort, and has even shown benefits beyond the security function.

Components of the System

BCM Controls Corp. integrated the system at MCCA, built around a large-scale IP video surveillance management system designed for multi-site/multi-server NVR and camera management applications. While a video client was originally the main monitoring and investigation interface, MCCA will soon migrate seamlessly to a new high-performance video client. This will deliver instant playback of a single camera with other cameras for spot monitoring; optical and digital PTZ via a virtual joystick; one-way audio; carousel functionality to provide full interaction with any other video window; event investigation and reporting; and push video upon an event.
Officers can monitor video even while on patrol using a PDA setting. Video analytics is also integrated into the system. MCCA is also a beta site for Ocularis, OnSSI’s intelligent IP video management and control software solution.
The bottom line is results. “My department’s IP video surveillance capabilities are producing results that can actually be used as evidence,” said Noonan. “The intelligent IP video management and control software solution has been flexible and allowed our operation to grow.”

Choosing the System

To select a new surveillance system, MCCA formed an evaluation team consisting of Public Safety Department managers and Information Technology Department managers in the network and database fields. Coordinating the evaluation process was Steven L. Feinberg, vice president of BCM Controls. In evaluating several technologies, the team considered usability, functionality and network compatibility, including bandwidth requirements, as well as how the system would interact with MCCA’s internal network including permissions, internal routing and multiple facility deployment. The team also looked at system requirements, including what type of server is needed, the requirements for a multiple site deployment, and how easy the servers are to manage, configure and replace. Also considered were processing speed and storage needs.
Budget was important in the evaluation criterion, including both initial cost and the costs of future expansion. Finally, the team sought a platform with an open architecture, flexibility and the ability to integrate with other systems such as fire and alarm systems.
Industry competitors participated in a 30-day on-site demonstration product review conducted by BCM Controls at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Each vendor was asked to set up its product using the existing network/database conditions. “The ease and flexibility of the system setup was, and still is, conducive to our ever-changing convention industry,” said Noonan.
Answering MCCA’s budget concerns, Noonan estimates the system has saved approximately 40 to 60 percent per new camera installation because cameras do not need the extensive “home run” wiring required by analog cameras.
“If we were going to invest in new technology, we wanted to avoid future overhaul,” said Noonan. The IP video management and control software solution makes sense today and protects the customer’s interests in the future, he added. “Our exposure is only the investment we made in product software.”

Video Analytics Add Value

The MCCA uses Agent Vi video analytics for numerous public safety applications, and is also looking at revenue generating and marketing research opportunities. The counting software helps to address overcrowding, a major concern in the convention industry. BCM Controls outfitted both entrances to the Grand Ballroom at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center with IP cameras and enabled them with counting analytics. The Public Safety Department can determine the exact count of occupancy within the ballroom at a moment’s notice or based on a threshold established within the system (i.e., 1,000 people triggers an alert).
The same technology will now be applied in MCCA’s Transportation Department to count vehicles on roadways, and in parking lots and garages. Looking to the future, MCCA is also exploring the possibility of using analytics data in marketing to enable high-traffic areas in the convention center to be priced higher, thus generating more revenue for the Authority.

Results Mean Success

After the successful installation, MCCA officials said they were also impressed with the service after the sale. “Working through BCM Controls as our direct contact, we have found this system to be extremely attentive to our needs,” said Noonan. “BCM Controls has spearheaded this relationship and has made it possible to draw upon resources at any hour or any day, no matter the issue. I am thrilled at the effort put forth by both BCM and OnSSI to meet MCCA’s needs.”