Each Panasonic all-in-one dome camera integrates a weatherproof housing, a 360-degree high-speed pan and tilt base and a 30x optical zoom lens.

Every day thousands of commuters crowd into the station in Owings Mills, Md., to catch the Metro subway into downtown Baltimore. All day long while these commuters are miles away at work, a system of more than 100 video cameras from keeps watch over their vehicles in the Metro Centre garage, owned by Owings Mills Transit, LLC.
While the parking decks are quiet through the middle of the day, during the morning and evening rush hours there is a large influx of people from the adjacent subway station. During this time the, cameras help contribute to the developer’s plan for the safety of the crowd and later, if needed, provide video evidence at 30 frames-per-second of anything that happened in the garage while they were at work.

Beginning of a Large Planned Development

Providing more than 3,000 parking spaces free for commuters who use the Baltimore subway operated by the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), the current Metro Centre garage is the first of several structured parking garages that will serve an adjacent planned development of office, retail, residential and public buildings. The transit-oriented development (TOD) will include another 30 or so buildings on the now mostly undeveloped site.
The existing garage already fills up to seven of its levels every weekday. Additional traffic expected from the planned commercial development will undoubtedly keep it fully utilized. A second garage planned nearby will one day accommodate another 2,500 cars, and the two sites will be linked by fiber-optic cable that will enable the existing control room to manage both security systems.
Panasonic’s corporate resources, capabilities and reputation contributed to the decision to go with Panasonic video equipment for the garage, said Nick Sachs, asset manager for David S. Brown Enterprises, Ltd., the property firm that manages the existing garage and is involved in the planned development. “Anytime you stack 3,000 cars together, you have security concerns, in addition to the fact that the subway system can bring crime,” Sachs said. “There will be another garage here and an entire community in the future, and we knew that Panasonic could handle that. It makes a difference.”

Analog In The Age of IP

Notably, in a time when more and more new video installations are designed using network technology, the system at Metro Centre garage is built around robust analog technology. “We looked at all the possibilities,” said Robert W. Harry Jr., president of Signals Communication Systems Inc., the engineer and installer of the system. “We did several scenarios before finally deciding on this design.” Given the physical configuration of the existing Metro Centre facility, analog proved to be the most cost-effective platform for this specific application.
A total of 102 Panasonic cameras cover the garage, including 63 vandal-resistant domes and 38 all-in-one dome cameras that provide pan-tilt-zoom functionality. The PTZ dome cameras are strategically located to cover the largest possible area, thus reducing the total number of cameras needed. Cameras located mid-way on the sides of the building provide views in either direction, facilitated by the cameras’ ability to zoom in to a precisely detailed image from several hundred feet away.

Always On Alert

The video system at the Metro Centre garage is well equipped to respond in case of emergency. There are 35 Talk-A-Phone hands-free emergency phone stations, each with one call button, located throughout the garage and integrated into the video system using an alarm output from the intercom system connected by two wires to an alarm input on the matrix switcher. If someone activates the emergency phone, a blank screen in the control room comes alive with an accompanying image from a camera.
There was also a timely display of the power of the video technology on the day the MTA showed up to sign off on the new system. Cameras had captured video of an illegal drag race that had taken place on the empty upper level of the parking decks. The video even showed the MTA how their officer had handled the incident, which enabled management to provide feedback to the officer.
“When you have a system of this size, you want a supplier like Panasonic,” Sachs said. “We needed superior-quality images delivered in real-time, and that’s exactly what this system provides.”