Wirelessly Integrating Cameras and Doors at the Hotel Northampton

Integrator Viocen delivers a wirelessly networked IP video and door sensor system to an historic property


“We choose our cameras for the stability of their software, and the completeness of their product line,” says Sheik. “The third component is what we call the ‘projectile test’ – something rapidly passing by the camera. We throw a keychain back and forth in the view of the camera and we won’t use it unless it captures this keychain flying across the room. You’d be surprised, but not all IP cameras are able to grab this movement.”

When Viocen came back to Ghalibaf with some ideas for the Hotel Northampton, they had a number of different technologies. There would be IP cameras across the facility, looking down the stairways that lead to rooms, in the hotel’s main public spaces, and in parking lots. For the parking lots, they went with a pole-mounted Axis camera that allowed 360-degree PTZ functions, and an auto patrol function. Standard fixed IP cameras were used in the interior spaces and some outdoors areas. The found a Toshiba camera that not only gave high resolution, but was so small it looked like a thermostat. It was perfect for the front entrance area, and because it was a megapixel model, it had mechanical pan and tilt, but the zoom was able to be digital, saving space and keeping the size of the camera down

Door position sensors were wireless, and were mounted at select locations. Being fire-exit sensors, they could also could buzz the front desk, and would also alert the night staff. Cameras and sensors protect the second building, where seven rooms are located with luxurious furnishings like plasma TVs.

Bringing all the video back together was a Milestone XProtect server system. The IP-based video can then be delivered to the front desk, but also to Ghalibaf’s office, and via the Internet to his home outside town, where Ghalibaf has a DSL connection. He finds that the remote video delivery is actually almost as good as the live video on-site at the front desk.

Both Viocen and Ghalibaf explain that having the video archived through an effective video management platform was essential to the project. Because there is not a dedicated monitoring staff, it’s often the duty of the night crew to watch the split monitor at the front desk. But since their tasks often require them to respond to guests needs, they can’t commit to full-time monitoring. The server-based recording has allowed them to easily review incidents. It’s important since the hotel often uses the surveillance video not only to catch criminals in this sleepy town, but to protect itself from liability issues.

Going network was its own challenge, says Sheik. They had an existing network in the hotel, but Sheik says “one of the traps is to share an enterprise network with a camera network, and that is generally a bad thing to do.” Instead they set up a separate network with two access points to serve the door sensors and the camera video. Sonic 12 firewalls were added to secure the entire security network. Asked whether he had any concerns that the security network might not be secure, Mitchell was quick to respond:

“It can be made as secure as 128-bit encryption,” said Mitchell. “It can be just as secure as the transfer of financial data. Obviously, if it’s not done properly, you can open the door to others, but CCTV over wireless can be made very secure.”

Now, as the project wraps up, we asked Ghalibaf if this security integration project worked well for the hotel.

“I’m very happy with the quality,” says Ghalibaf. “It is a very good investment. Just last night, the night auditor used the surveillance system and noticed a person acting weird in the elevator. We thought he might do some vandalism to the property, and we were able to watch him to make sure that didn’t happen.”

What they used…
…a partial list of technologies used in the project:

  • Axis 231D camera for auto-patrolling the parking area (360 degrees)
  • Megapixel Toshiba cameras for monitoring indoor areas of the hotels with no lights during the evening hours
  • Axis 211 cameras for general purpose outdoor viewing/recording
  • Milestone XProtect Server software for monitoring/recording
  • Visonic PowerCode wireless door transmitters for fire-exit doors
  • Sonicwall firewall router for VPN secured remote access to viewing, monitoring, and recording material
  • Dell desktop PC with 19-inch flat panel monitor