At the Frontline: Aria Resort and Casino Director of Surveillance Ted Whiting

Surveillance chief discusses the implementation of a hybrid security solution at the new CityCenter complex in Las Vegas

Sprawling across 67 acres on the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts sits the recently opened CityCenter complex. The complex, a joint venture between the MGM Mirage and Infinity World Development Corp., is one of the largest privately funded construction projects in U.S. history.

CityCenter is composed of the 61-story, 4,004-room Aria Resort & Casino; two, non-gaming luxury hotels, the Mandarin Oriental and Vdara Hotel & Spa; Veer Towers residential buildings; and, Crystals retail and entertainment district. In addition to 4,000 hotel rooms, Aria contains 10 bars and lounges, as well as 150,000-square-foot gaming space with 145 table games and 1,940 slot machines.

To help secure a facility of the size and scope of CityCenter, the complex utilizes a hybrid security system, which consists of a total of 3,700 surveillance cameras and a couple of thousand points of access control, according to Ted Whiting, director of surveillance for Aria. Having worked in gaming security for the past 21-plus years, Whiting moved over to the CityCenter project in 2006 after working as director of surveillance at the MGM Mirage.

In this "At the Frontline," Whiting discusses the challenges behind designing and implementing security systems at Las Vegas' newest mega complex.

What are some of the challenges involved with designing and implementing a security system of this size?

Right from the start, we knew we wanted a system that was the most advanced in the industry. We wanted to blend the best of the current technology with the best of the new, and since we were creating something that had never been done before, I knew I had to make sure this would be ok with the gaming control board - because we are regulated by them. For a couple of years leading up to our opening, I would periodically contact the gaming control board and show them what we were planning to do and they were always very receptive of the technology, but they could never approve it right there. I had to wait until a week before we opened to see if it would really work... so that was a challenge to make sure that we stayed compliant. The actual size of the system really didn't make it more difficult, it just took more time to make sure that we were covering all of our bases.

How did you pick which solutions would be a part of the CityCenter system?

We went through a real exhaustive process. We had four or five (vendor) finalists and we used their products at our different properties. We tested them for a couple of weeks and then we scored them based on more than 100 different points. Based on that score, we came up with the winner and Honeywell happened to win. Then we went to sourcing and made sure that they did their thing. We had nothing to do with the pricing - corporate sourcing handled that - but we were able to pick the best product based on our demos using the criteria we established.

What are some of the benefits of using a hybrid system?

The benefit of using both (IP and analog) is that analog doesn't give me everything I want and neither does IP video. We were able to get the best of both technologies and we've done a great job here. As an example, a PTZ is an analog camera; it doesn't work in the IP world. There's latency, so you move the joystick and the PTZ won't move if it's IP. In an analog system, it moves perfectly in real time and I didn't want to give that up and I didn't have to. I also wanted the best of the IP world, which means I wanted megapixel cameras, I wanted HD cameras and I wanted 360-degree cameras, because analog cameras can't do what those cameras can. Hybrid right now is the only way to go. I would say in maybe 5 years analog may be completely gone, but not right now.

Why does analog remain such a big part of surveillance in the gaming industry and what kind of strides have IP cameras made in the gaming market?

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