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


There are a couple of reasons that IP is still lagging behind analog, it's going to change quickly, but for now, it's still behind. Even two years ago, IP cameras were too expensive, the picture wasn't as good, the video had latency, and a fourth problem was that we had no idea how long the cameras would last. An analog camera will honestly go seven years most of the time, but I didn't know (about IP) because IP cameras hadn't been out for seven years, so I couldn't make that statement. In addition to that, you have to be within IP distance put an IP camera in. If your camera is more than 300 feet away from your first com room, you can't put an IP camera in without buying additional equipment.

Some of these problems have been solved. With IP cameras now, the picture is so much better it's ridiculous, and they're not that much more expensive. As far as infrastructure, we made sure we're future-proofed here and that I can pull out any one of my analog cameras and just plug an IP camera in there and I'm in distance every time. The cost of an IP camera has always been higher than an analog camera, but it also costs more to record (IP) because it takes up more bandwidth. These HD cameras I've got now only take up a little bit more bandwidth, so I don't have to spend more money and I'm getting a picture that is literally three times as clear. That's the biggest stride. The thing that I want to see happen is IP cameras make it to the PTZ world. I would like the latency to go away and I would like that same clarity in a PTZ, but that hasn't happened yet.

How has security and surveillance changed in the gaming industry and how have those changes materialized themselves in the CityCenter project?

The bottom line for us is that we're still here to protect the casino's assets - which means not only protecting the money, but also the guests and employees. I think we do a really good job of that, we've always done a good job, but the technology makes us more efficient when we're trying to do these things. One of the ways (we do this) is that we literally have more video. We have almost 100 percent of the casino floor covered, so if there's any problem in the casino, we will probably have video of it. Then, we are able to conduct a proper investigation, where maybe in years past we wouldn't know what happened. The other thing that we are doing is tying data to video, so we are able to analyze all these different data streams we have. Say there's a suspicious transaction at a cash register, we're able to filter that out, click that transaction's text and the video appears. Then we're able to determine whether or not that's an incident of theft.

How do you plan on upgrading and improving your security system in the future? Was scalability a big issue in selection process for security solutions?

Scalability is always a big issue. We don't want to buy something that we can't do anything with two years from now. We future-proof not just the hardware, but the infrastructure as well. The next thing I see coming is that we are going to buy more of these HD cameras. The more that get sold, the cheaper they are going to be.

We are also looking at video analytics. Up until this point, there were only a few analytic behaviors that really worked consistently. I think that the video industry is really gearing up to take on those challenges and make them all work. We have license plate recognition and it works fantastic, but one that doesn't work that I want to see work is a "trip-and-fall." I believe that will be in the next couple of years and that is when we will start installing (analytics systems) once they work really well.