Harrah's Cherokee Selects PI Vision's UVMS Network Video Recording Solution

Jan. 14, 2005
North Carolina casino moves from analog to network video recording as part of its expansion phase

As part of an ambitious expansion and renovation program, the Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel in the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains (North Carolina) has installed a Network Video Recording (NVR) system from PI Vision.

Harrah's Cherokee Casino & Hotel is located on the edge of a National Park and is renowned for its scenery and luxury accommodation. Harrah's is currently doubling the size of the hotel and casino, with work expected to be completed in early 2005. As part of the upgrade, the casino is migrating its video surveillance recording from VCR/analogue to hard-disk recording, using the Universal Video Management System (UVMS) from PI Vision.

The UVMS is a feature-rich, digital video surveillance management system which gives the user instant access to archived footage and a host of powerful search and camera navigation functions, as well as Evidential Video Master (EVM). EVM is a software suite which enables users to identify and export evidential-quality video clips for investigations and prosecutions. In addition, the UVMS has virtual matrix capabilities, with support for PTZ camera control and video wall displays.

Juan Owle, surveillance manager at Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel, commented: "The system is very user friendly. It has saved our department time performing reviews that we now use to actually apprehend suspects. Any installation and commissioning issues which may have been experienced with the system initially were all handled quickly and to desired outcomes."

David Myers, managing director of PI Vision, said: "We are very pleased to have been chosen by Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel following a highly competitive selection process. Since its launch, the UVMS has been recognized for its robustness, functionality and scalability, making it the ideal system for a wide range of demanding digital video surveillance projects, including casinos, now and in the future."

UVMS at Harrah's Cherokee records 850 cameras located throughout the hotel and casino complex. The casino and hotel has two video access stations - one in the main control room and another at an undisclosed location to provide additional monitoring capacity during busy times.

UVMS workstations typically employ a triple-monitor display solution - three flat-screen TFT monitors which function as a single desktop, enabling the operator to display camera navigation maps, overview screens and spot monitors at the same time. Triple-monitor displays are supported as standard by the UVMS, but each workstation can be configured with between one and three monitors.

UVMS is network-enabled and can sit on the casino's IP network, enabling video to be retrieved from anywhere on the network by a workstation that is equipped with PI Vision's access station software (subject to security controls and password access). Additional workstations can be positioned at any location that has a connection to the corporate LAN.

The UVMS installation is part of a phased expansion and upgrade of the video surveillance system. In the first stage, the casino and hotel is migrating existing cameras in their current configuration to digital recording. They will also expand the number of cameras on-site as construction work is completed.

Highly modular in design, the UVMS can be expanded simply by adding new processing and recording hardware to the system. As customers upgrade from analogue to IP network cameras, these can be plugged straight into the UVMS. The UVMS supports PTZ control for IP network cameras.

With the UVMS, Harrah's has chosen a system that is very secure and robust. The strength of the UVMS architecture lies in the fact that there is no single-point-of-failure. Unlike other systems, it doesn't rely on a central database server to provide an index of image files. In the UVMS, this information is distributed throughout the system, ensuring the continuity of the image file index in case of hardware failure.

This is the latest in a series of major casino projects for PI Vision in the United States. Recently, PI Vision completed the installation of a 1024-camera recording system at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Minnesota. With over 100 terabytes of recording capacity, the system is one of the largest Network Video Recording systems in the world.

The UVMS system converts analogue video signals to digital video through MPEG and JPEG capture hardware. The recording resolution is 4CIF on all channels and the chosen recording rate ranges from 3fps to 30fps (NTSC) as required. In addition to recording video, the casino has chosen to take advantage of the lip-sync audio recording capabilities of the UVMS in certain areas. The recording media is RAID level 5 for maximum safety and redundancy.

Engineering support for the installation was provided by PI Vision engineers from the company's UK and USA offices. This included installation support, configuration and commissioning of the system. While the engineers were on site, they also created customised camera navigation maps for the casino and hotel complex. PI Vision provided engineering and user training as part of the installation. Support for PI Vision products is available from its offices in Orlando, Florida and London, England.