Security by the Book

Security by the Book

Pick any county in the United States, money is scarce to non-existent, and in the pecking order of who gets the available money, the county library is way down the line. Funding has been scarce for the Uinta County Library in Evanston, Wyoming. Despite being loved by the local citizens, the library just didn’t seem to be a pressing need.

There haven’t been any recent break-ins at the library, though it has long been recognized that the security technology in use, was not first rate. The few security cameras the library had no longer functioned and a second-hand anti-theft gate didn’t have all of the necessary parts to work properly considering the layout of the building.

“There was a strong feeling that personal security took precedence over security of property, so we focused on cameras,” said George Strawley, Uinta County librarian. “The county commissioners were already imposing budget cuts across the board because of sharp drops in the energy revenues that mean so much to Wyoming’s economy. The pain has been felt across the state.”

Strawley was determined to upgrade the security system, not just for protection, but also to determine how well the functionality of the library, specifically how many people were coming and going on any given day. The bottom line, for Strawley, was the library being used?

“Libraries run on statistics, circulation figures, patron registrations and door counts to name a few,” Strawley said. “When our old system that used a beam counter failed on us about a year ago, we were left unable to gauge how many people we were actually serving.”

Knowing that the library needed security, but that money was tight, Strawley found himself in a bind. He began a conversation with an integrator in Wyoming, who quoted a price for equipment and installation. That plan was just out of reach.

A second conversation with an individual in the security industry revealed a possible plan that eventually worked out. Strawley was able to stay within budget and get a best-of-breed solution.

The Uinta County Library is as old as the county itself. Well, almost. The library came to light in 1906, whereas the County Seat of Evanston was incorporated around 1886. Libraries of yesterday functioned primarily as a place for outdated news and a collection of books that could be checked out by a patron.

Today’s library is a social media hub.

Pinching Pennies

While every county in the state has lost significant revenue, and commissioners have been watching every dollar they spend, they were able to get the project off the ground by installing the necessary conduit. The building didn’t initially have what was needed as The Uinta County Library moved to their present location, a location that used to be an independent grocery store, about 30 years ago.

With the conduit installed, the next step was pulling cable. The integrator chose North American Cable Equipment (NACE) DataTronix Cat-5e throughout. These cables can be used in any application up to 100 meters, and they exceed Cat-5e requirements as per ANSI/TIA/ EIA-568-C.2.

“These conductors are 100 percent pure copper and not a copper-clad aluminum like you see in some cheap cables on the market,” said Aaron Starr, president of NACE. “The jacket is a high-quality PVC, and the wire can withstand a pulling force of greater than 25 pounds.”

Because every security installation needs a little bit of software to connect equipment to the network, the library selected Salient Systems CompleteView VMS. CompleteView ONE edition of the product was the right fit, but also included Cognimatics software to count patrons.

“The system works great. The Salient VMS allows us the ability to do a thumbnail search of captured images. We are getting numbers from the people-counting software,” Strawley said. “I still think the numbers we are getting will be within a reasonable range. It’s possible to install these cameras using someone who has general technical know-how, but you do run a risk. I think this is a good example of what a professional integrator can help you avoid.”

The VMS provides a full feature set and investigative tools for deployments up to 32 cameras; the price works out well for facilities on a budget.

“Lost property identification was an unintended benefit of the new surveillance system,” said Brian Carle, director of product strategy at Salient Systems. “Library staff can quickly match up owners to property, or easily identify what happened with missing property using their new investigation tools. The already mentioned thumbnail feature will expand that time frame to a series of new thumbnails. With three clicks of the mouse, the library staff can narrow down an event to within seven seconds.”

Who is Coming, Who is Going

The library’s funding is directly tied to the number of people using the facility, so Cognimatics was chosen to count the number of patrons entering and exiting the library each day. With Cognimatics, a camera was no longer just a camera but is instead turned into a highly advanced and powerful sensor that delivers hard data or statistics and not primarily video or still images. This way of viewing the camera opens up for an entirely different field of new products and solutions that are not traditionally solved by using a camera.

“We are thrilled that we were able to help the Uinta County Library restore their sense of security,” said Steve Darragh, business area director, South Central, Axis Communications Inc. “We’re also glad to see that they’ve deployed Cognimatics to help with people counting and to enhance operational efficiency. As the educational hub of the county, it’s important that visitors feel safe and secure while browsing literary masterpieces and learning about new and exciting topics and trends.”

The camera sensor is an abundant source of raw data, but the information hidden in the video or still image is often hard to extract. Cognimatics’ technology is designed to unveil this hidden information even in harsh conditions. The technology for detecting objects in video and still images is based on so-called Machine Learning and has a unique patent pending technology that gives small and reliable software the ability to detect objects in a wide variety of shapes, appearances, lightings and also viewing angles. The technology is very flexible and can be applied to detect a large range of objects such as faces, eyes, torsos, cars and more.

Now, with everything in place, the library fully restored its security capabilities and still has plenty of room for expansion when that time comes. For example, the library can opt to enhance the system by using the TouchView Mobile app, which will allow full system access using any Apple or Android smartphone or tablet. Using the app, authorized library employees have access to video, digital PTZ camera control and recordings from the system throughout the facility.

“This has been a well-organized installation and one that we were happy to consult and offer professional advice,” said Brent Edmunds, president of Stone Security, located in Salt Lake City. “Each piece of the installation fits well together and will serve the needs of the library very well.”

When it comes to security, sometimes the budget is the only thing standing in the way. When Strawley needed security for both the library and the books inside, he was able to find solutions that matched his needs. Now, the Uinta County Library can move past making security products they already have work, and enjoy an interoperable system that will serve them well for decades to come.

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Security Today.


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