Serving up reseller opportunities

Security resellers love good business opportunities, and while the market may not have been as robust as in the past, the hospitality/casino vertical still has bright spots and profitable pockets of installations and new specifications.

And it's not just video surveillance only. These vertical markets are looking for the full solution-from security and accountability to control and remote access.

In the casino marketplace, Native American venues are seeing a definite uptick. Working with state governments in an effort to bring in tax revenues, Native American tribes continue to build some of the biggest and most luxurious casinos in the world. Currently, the money generated by Indian Reservation casinos brings in more money than Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined.

At the North Star Mohican Casino Resort, between Green Bay and Wausau, Wis., Reliable Security Services (an IndigoVision partner) designed and installed a casino wide solution integrating CCTV, access control, intrusion detection and panic alarms over an IP network. The casino is also planning to integrate its point-of-sale equipment into the security system. The casino is owned and operated by the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians.

The installation of a distributed network-based surveillance and security system provided the casino with two major benefits. Firstly it replaced an aging VCR analog-based CCTV system that was expensive and slow to operate and secondly it gave the casino a platform for easy expansion in the future.

The tight and seamless integration between the casino's control center and the other security systems allows powerful cause-and-effects to be programmed. For example, an intrusion alarm can automatically display the nearest camera, pan a camera to a pre-programmed position, display the location of the alarm on a map of the casino and bookmark the video. This allows the security team to quickly manage events and improves overall operator efficiency and incident response.

"Due to an aggressive construction schedule, we only had 48 hours to fully test and commission the 450 camera system before handover," said Bill Miller, president of Reliable Security Services. "Amazingly, we succeeded."

"The flexibility of the IP video solution enabled the casino to remain fully operational during the upgrade," added Miller. "The casino cannot afford surveillance downtime at any time, including the loss of video recording."

Casinos present integrators with some of the sternest challenges of any sector. The venues demand exceptional optical performance with widely varying fields of view needed from cameras operating under divergent lighting conditions across card tables, roulette wheels and gaming machines. Footage must be of a quality that will satisfy evidence demands from the venue, the judiciary and regulatory authorities.

The five-star Atlantic Palace Hotel in Agadir is one of Morocco's premium gambling resorts with a casino that offers slot machines, roulette and many forms of poker including tournament play. The system was implemented by leading Moroccan integrator CST Centre S‚curit‚ et Traitement. CST required integration of network megapixel cameras with IP-addressable speed domes. They also insisted that both camera types be compatible with the intelligent video surveillance software that had been chosen to provide both video management and analytics.

The casino is using network cameras from Hikvision that offer 1.3 megapixel data, high levels of vandal-resistance and resolution of 1,600 x 1200 pixels and instant playback at high resolution which is vital for prompt resolution of disputes and protection of revenue.

Ms. BenBrahim Wassima of CST said: "the end-user demanded full frame rate since a single skipped frame can determine the outcome of a claim against the casino or fail to expose fraudulent activity. But bandwidth remained at a premium since there is extensive CCTV surveillance elsewhere in the hotel complex for general logistic and safety purposes. Reducing data storage demands and associated costs were also considerations."

On the hospitality and hotel side of the equation, the market has been somewhat stagnant, victim it seems to the lack of funding that seems to proliferate up and down many verticals these days. That being said, there are opportunities, especially in boutique hotels and some new construction is beginning to show signs of life.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hotels and other accommodations industry is expected grow by five percent over the 2008 to 2018 period. Among the top 25 markets, Boston reported the largest occupancy increase, followed by Detroit and Miami-Hialeah. Houston experienced the largest occupancy decrease, falling 15 percent.

For those hotels that are cash-strapped, ah, like the rest of us, the operative word in retrofit is hybrid systems, or systems that can use the existing infrastructure, without heavy forklift upgrades.

According to Steve Malia, director, Design and Production for M. Malia & Associates Inc., Brick, N.J., hotels are always looking to make their clients feel more secure, so consultants are seeing more opportunities for retrofits to add camera coverage, as well as installation of emergency call box locations on site for customer safety. Additionally, many corporations are looking for competitive service contracts to handle multiple locations.

"Customers are looking for cost efficiencies across all solutions," said Malia. "With the price of IP equipment becoming more competitive now, utilizing the existing network and backbone infrastructure makes it easier to add cameras, etc. at existing properties. Many hotels are also taking advantage of camera and point of sale integration to increases efficiencies via audit of their retail and food and beverage operations," he added.

Malia said hotel sales have not yet recovered from the recession, so integrators need to work with properties and help them achieve their desired security with a firm budget in mind. "Whether this is done thru phasing of a project, or upgrading rather than replacing existing equipment, providing this level of customer service and care will be worthwhile to an integrator in the long run," he continued.

The hospitality and casino vertical market may seem slow at this time, but these end-users are ramping up for the day when they can add surveillance and fully integrated solutions to their property and boost security overall.

Betting the House on IP Surveillance
By Fredrik Nilsson, general manager of the Americas, Axis Communications

As one of the earliest proponents of video surveillance, the gaming industry has a deep history (and investment) in analog technology. Some of the first casinos to take advantage of the latest innovations in video surveillance are the Native American casinos, who are pioneering a movement to network surveillance. What benefits are these early technology adopters talking about?

Emergence of HDTV Arguably, the gaming industry stands to benefit the most from the meteoric emergence of high-definition. Because HDTV is an industry standard guaranteeing resolution and color fidelity at full frame rate, casinos can be certain that their images will meet gaming regulations. At a more tangible level, surveillance staffers can now identify the subtle difference in chip color that could mean the difference between $10 and $1,000, or focus on a particular card to ensure fair play. Improved resolution standards also allow casino management to better work with law enforcement by providing crisp images for prosecution.

Scalability Unlike analog predecessors, IP technology can be changed and upgraded without major forklift installations. When new camera or analytic technologies emerge, casinos can easily test and implement without disrupting surveillance operations. They can also start with a system that meets their budget and then expand to meet growing business needs. Furthermore, IP allots diverse features-such as time synced two-way audio and audio/motion detection-to be added in-camera or on the network rather than building a disparate security feature.

Total Cost of Ownership With advancements in video compression like H.264 and scalable storage technologies to store footage without compromising video quality, casinos have been able to build systems with hundreds or even thousands of cameras. These scalable systems not only save money on equipment and service costs but also on significant power and cooling costs. Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) compliance also saves infrastructure and installation costs by using a single cable to both power the cameras and transmit the video signal over the existing network.

Why Casinos Are Now Considering the Move to IP Video
By Jason Oakley, CEO, North American Video

The casino industry has one of the largest installed bases of surveillance systems of any market. However migration to IP has been slower than anticipated due to regulatory requirements and the business critical nature of casino surveillance operations.

Surveillance requirements in gaming are driven not just by business and operational requirements but also gaming regulations that set stringent specifications for the monitoring of gambling businesses and the performance of the surveillance function.

The gaming industry's growing acceptance of IP-based video surveillance systems, including cameras, recording devices and information management software, is based on advances in technology that demonstrate improved overall performance and a confirmed ROI.

Video surveillance systems in casinos are subject to stringent regulations that govern deployment. These regulations govern such matters as frame rates, retention time and camera positions. Early versions of IP cameras and network-based recording systems could not meet many of the mandated technical requirements or delivered results in a manner inconsistent with the regulations.

Hybrid systems incorporate encoders and other transition devices to allow a partial move to network-based systems that can add digital cameras while allowing the continued use of the original analog cameras. Over time new digital cameras can be added to the system as old cameras come to end of life or as facilities expand or reconfigure.

Manufacturers have also started to respond to the market opportunity by developing products that address the particular needs of the gaming industry, for example by the development of specialist analytics that can track high value chips or identify irregular gambling patterns in high stakes games.

The growing use of megapixel cameras is an example of the additional capabilities found in digital technology. The high definition resolution of these cameras provides greater detail for analysis when viewing gaming activity. While it is technically possible to deploy fewer megapixel cameras to capture the same views as comparably positioned analog cameras, the initial deployments of megapixel cameras in gaming have been to augment and not replace existing camera set ups.

Along with the improved technology, advances in network equipment and increased infrastructure have solved much of the bandwidth issue. New and remodeled gaming properties are deploying network infrastructures capable of supporting IP systems. The ROI is seen in reduced installation and operational costs and higher, more sustainable levels of operational efficiency. IP-based systems are inherently easier to install than analog systems due to reduced cable and hands-on programming time at the camera.

Operational costs have also been reduced with PoE-compliant IP cameras that are powered over existing/new network Category 5 cabling that delivers standard 10/100/1000Mb Ethernet service. Power is transmitted over Cat 5 Ethernet cabling, enabling the transition to a networked platform to be achieved in a centralized, more simplified, and easy to manage environment. Additionally, new PoE power supplies are available that also allow non-compliant PoE cameras to be powered over the network using simple, inexpensive adapters.

High performance, system integration, scalability and lower cost of ownership will be the factors that continue to drive the expansion of IP cameras in gaming and other markets.