“Although unsophisticated by today’s standards, the system was a big advantage for us at the time,” says Karl Bergmann, senior manager of Security Systems. “It was our first step to standardizing on one system, and it put us in a good position when digital started to gain prominence.”
The 2000 upgrade also entailed extending the security system to MLC’s warehouse/shop/office (67,000 square feet) and to its corporate campus offices made up of three buildings encompassing 64,000 square feet near downtown Winnipeg. MLC also has three warehouse/office buildings totaling 25,000 square feet in Brandon and Morris, towns 120 miles and 60 miles from Winnipeg, respectively.
The initial 2000 installation led to a digital upgrade in 2004, which ushered in a new era — and technological advancement — for MLC security. “We needed a very configurable system that we could tailor to fit with our size at the time and, ideally, in the future,” Bergmann says. “We have locations spread across a wide geographic distance with varying security and surveillance requirements. Scalability, flexibility and ease of integration were primary factors in our system choice.”
Central to this implementation was Honeywell’s Enterprise Network Video Recorder (NVR) video management system, configurable digital video technology with the scalability and flexibility MLC sought. The digital system provided myriad benefits to MLC security and surveillance, including enhanced recording quality. MLC could more easily manage cameras and alarms across its locations, as well as obtain instant access to video recordings and simultaneously view, record and playback video and synchronized audio streams.
Digital surveillance technology has also freed up a significant amount of time previously spent reviewing tapes, affording operators more time to monitor areas and activity. MLC surveillance technicians are also able to work more efficiently, which provides an even more secure environment for MLC patrons and employees.
“From an operations standpoint, our surveillance technicians can now perform much quicker reviews when a customer needs or loses something, for example,” Sanscartier says. “Reviewing videotapes takes three times as long, so digital has certainly made us more efficient so we can immediately locate footage and pinpoint incidents. And that, in turn, is a win-win for everyone.”
Also helping to improve efficiency at MLC is Honeywell’s VideoBloX matrix system, which MLC installed at Club Regent and McPhillips Street Station as part of the 2004 upgrade. The system is a video and audio matrix switcher that integrates with other technology components, including access control and intrusion alarms, so operators are constantly updated and aware of all casino activity under surveillance. MLC has PTZ fixed cameras throughout its casinos, restaurants, warehouses and corporate offices, which all tie back to the central system to provide an enterprise-wide view of operations.
“The cameras and flexible integration give us extra ‘eyes’ in areas where we don’t always have staff on site 24 hours a day,” Bergmann says. “The digital system enables us to monitor buildings from off site, 24/7.”
MLC’s holistic approach to security also includes components beyond standard video and access to help improve safety and security, according to Bergmann. The Enterprise NVR system integrates with Honeywell’s IDM (Integrated Data Manager), a system that synchronizes surveillance video with slot and point-of-sale terminals to provide analysis of valuable data. In both casinos, for example, cameras monitor the restaurants and are tied to a POS interface, which pulls transactional data from slots and POS points throughout the locations.
MLC can generate real-time reports from the IDM system, including exception reports, which can quickly identify suspicious activity. The system has helped MLC curb theft. “We’ve been very successful controlling theft with the equipment we have,” Sanscartier says. “The IDM interface is yet another beneficial tool that we use to ensure our assets are protected, and it also aids with productivity since we can pinpoint issues immediately and work to resolve them, instead of having to dig through historical data ourselves.”