Project Profile

They say it's an ill wind that blows no good. When an EF5 multi-vortex tornado blew through Joplin, Missouri this summer the debris that remained and result of the storm caused extensive devastation to the community.

But out of the rubble came a new IP-based security system for Iowa 80 Group's Joplin 44 Petro truck stop, located off Highway 43. While the system was not necessarily built because of the destruction that hit Joplin nor did it face any potential challenges that needed to be addressed, the site knew it was the right time for a complete security solution that kept its staff, visitors and truck drivers safe.

"Joplin was an opportunity to design and engineer a large IP video system from the ground up," explained Rob Benson, project manager and systems engineer for Dakota Security Systems, the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based integrator who worked with the Iowa 80 Group before on similar IP jobs in Iowa and North Carolina. Joplin 44 Petro had an antiquated analog system in place that was showing its age and no longer gave the coverage necessary to protect the site. At the same time, the truck stop was going through a complete renovation of the existing facility, including a substantial expansion, upgrade and remodel.

"Joplin is one of multiple facilities under the Iowa 80 Group umbrella," said Burke Strand of the Iowa 80 Group's corporate IT department in Walcott, Iowa. The company runs large and sophisticated travel plazas for truckers and other travelers throughout the Midwest.

"Iowa 80 Group needed a solution to help manage and protect their business, their stores, their employees and their customers," explained Eric Yunag, president and CEO of Dakota Security Systems.

"With the Joplin facility we were able to start from scratch, walking the facility prior to the remodel and expansion and working off of the plans provided by the customer to develop the design around the IP system's strengths," said Benson. "We were able to design the entire system around the specific strengths and nuances that each IP camera brought to the table."

System specifics

There are 84 cameras at the Joplin 44 Petro truck stop, which required nearly 17,000 feet of Belden Category 6 cabling feeding those 84 cameras, explained Benson.

For starters, there are seven IQinVision IQEye IQA22SI-B2 fixed two-megapixel indoor dome cameras that provide indoor coverage of the cash registers and countertops. There are 12 MOBOTIX cameras, model MX-D12Di-SEC, that provide 180-degree, three-megapixel views. In addition, their MX-Q24M-SEC-D11 3-megapixel Hemispheric cameras provide general 360-degree coverage of open interior spaces.

"This includes 13 cameras hanging on poles from 35-foot interior ceilings located in the Super Truck Showroom area," said Strand. The remainder are scattered throughout the facility with some in 180-degree mode. The units' small size "made very little impact on the overall aesthetics of the area, unlike the large dome housings previously used by the customer," Benson continued.

There are three MOBOTIX MX-Q24-Basic VGA Hemispheric cameras for 360-degree coverage of smaller interior spaces.

A total of 19 Axis M3203 fixed SVGA indoor domes cover offices, hallways and similar areas. The five M3204 fixed one-megapixel indoor domes cover office areas where additional resolution was required.

"We used the various view options available from the MOBOTIX cameras to substantially reduce the number of cameras and licenses required while maintaining nearly blanket coverage of the customer's facility," said Benson.

There are five IQinVision IQEye IQ755V7NPNE fixed exterior megapixel cameras in outdoor housings that allowed them to maintain high resolution documentation of the pump island traffic including the ability to record vehicle and license plate information. The high-quality images sometimes even make it possible to identify occupants still in the vehicles.

The complete array of product used was housed on the Milestone Systems XProtect Corporate Edition VMS Suite. It is connected to its management server located at Iowa 80 Group's headquarters, which allows the end user to monitor any of their cameras at any of their sites from anywhere in their corporate network. That site is connected to numerous clients located across the country.

Each of the two Dell servers, supplied by Iowa 80 Group for the job, run 10 recorder processes with cameras evenly dispersed among the recording processes. This setup minimizes any down time and the impact of a possible corrupted database or hardware storage failure.

The hardware is Dual Xeon 2.4GHz (16 cores) running a Windows 2008R2 64Bit operating system, with 24GB of RAM at their disposal, said Strand. "We are archiving to eight 18-TB RAID5 storage arrays per server," he added.

And while Joplin 44 Petro is a well-lit facility, there were still some areas that required an extended dynamic range. Bosch Security Systems' NWD-0495 FlexiDomeDN XF D1 Day/Night dynamic cameras were deployed as the solution in those areas.

Pelco's two PMCL526A 26-inch analog monitors are fed by analog output on the IQ755 and mounted by the cash registers to monitor the pump islands. Just so everyone is aware that security is on alert, two PMP26B 26-inch public view monitors are mounted at entrances to the facility.

"The continuous analog output available on those cameras made it easy to install 26-inch analog monitors at the indoor cash registers to allow the employees to easily identify the vehicles without needing a client PC in place," Benson noted.

Job well done

As he drives by the Joplin job site today, Benson is pleased with the way the project turned out.

"Once the customer was able to see the quality of the video that is available with the IP system, they continued to find more places to add additional equipment," he said. "There are numerous other sites under the Iowa 80 Group's umbrella that could benefit from the switch to IP."

And while installation went smoothly, "coordination of the installation around the other contractors' schedules from our office nearly six hours away was always challenging," Benson added. He credits a lot to Dave Bachman-there on site with the Iowa 80 Group and Strand up in Walcott-who ensured everyone was kept in the loop regarding scheduling and any holdups affecting the installation.

"Our installers would generally start work on the job site after the rest of the contractors had left for the day, working well into the night," said Benson. This allowed them to do the majority of their work while the customer was in their "slower" time of the day.

"It also prevented tripping over the other contractors while we were all trying to occupy the same space," he noted. "Things would not have gone nearly as smoothly without the work ethic and perseverance that our installers showed, sometimes working 14-hour nights to get their parts done and out of the way for the following contractors' day shift."

Dakota's success is based on their ability to assess customer needs and technology challenges, help them meet those challenges and follow up with great service, explained Yunag. "Everybody can buy the technology from anybody," he said. "Our goal is to provide solutions to business problems."

"Contrary to the name, we are a national company with offices in Des Moines, Omaha, Chicago, New York and Phoenix," Yunag continued. The 35-year old firm finds opportunity in remote locations through its ability to provide the customers with unique solutions to challenging problems.

Benson has one suggestion for anyone doing a similar project. "Moving forward on a job like this we would probably leverage Anixter's program to pre-configure, address and test all the IP cameras prior to arriving at our warehouse, in order to cut down on the time necessary for that aspect of the job," he concluded.

Curt Harler is a Cleveland-based freelance writer specializing in both physical and computer network security. He can be reached at