Enrolling a Solution

Integrating IP video surveillance solution with IT infrastructure

At Chapman University, officials are creating a system of digital security cameras to take advantage of a fiber-optic network that serves the 76-acre tree-lined university campus in Orange, Calif.

A key consideration in selecting digital video systems for Chapman University is scalability—the system is being implemented in stages to cover various geographic parts of the sprawling, non-contiguous campus in the historic Old Towne district of Orange. Looking for a scalable, IT-based system with an emphasis on image quality, Dave Young, director of information technology at Chapman University, has chosen technology from Panasonic System Solutions Co. for current and future video surveillance needs. Panasonic is working with Orvac Electronics, in Fullerton, Calif., and The Pacific Group on the project.

Protecting Present, Future Investments

The Chapman University Department of Public Safety has 11 full-time officers, a part-time officer and an administrative assistant. The department employs several electronic devices, including fire alarms, red ring-down phones and blue-light emergency phones, on campus.

Marion Knott Studios, the new home of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, is a $41 million, 76,000-square-foot building that includes a 500-seat theater, a digital arts center, and a television and broadcast journalism center. When this facility was completed in 2006, it included the university's first comprehensive installation of a video surveillance system based on a prior generation of analog cameras. With Panasonic's highly flexible IP-based platform, Chapman is able to grow with the efficiency of network cameras, while coopting the legacy system into a single interface.

Emphasis on Scalability

Given the need for scalability and the availability of fiber-optic connectivity on the campus, it made perfect sense to choose a networked digital video system.

"Video quality is important to us, but when considering DVRs, we hit some awkward scaling limits," Young said. "Some suppliers told us their DVRs could support 16, 20, 30 or 40 cameras, but at the frame rate and resolution quality we needed, that's almost never true. You get maybe four cameras to a DVR, and that really changes the cost equation—for every four cameras you're buying a new DVR. It just doesn't scale very gracefully, not to mention the DVR needs to be collocated or very nearly collocated with the cameras, and that presents its own set of problems."

Instead of a system using multiple unwieldy DVRs, Young opted for a networked system. The 56 cameras installed at Chapman University send images to an NVR with capabilities to hold up to nine removable 1 terabyte disk drives of storage. The NVR can record up to 64 network cameras simultaneously—and at D1 resolution— with multiformat recording. Plans are to add about 15 cameras per month at Chapman University, and when the camera total exceeds 64, the university will stack additional NVRs as needed. A universal system controller provides the "surveillance cockpit" of the system to give the operator total control, including a detached joystick control for camera PTZ and a jog dial and shuttle ring to operate the NVR.

The operation and management software enables live images to be received directly from the cameras or via the recorder. The software allows up to 3,200 cameras to be registered, and a multimonitor option enables simultaneous use of operation display, live display and map display, each on a dedicated monitor.

"At Chapman University, we already have a robust network architecture of fiber-optic cables between the buildings," Young said. "We are able to leverage that, augmented by existing Cat-5 and Cat-6 cables, as our campus-wide communication infrastructure out to the cameras. You don't have to have a parallel infrastructure to get to the cameras; you have the network infrastructure in place. Another element of scaling is the recording space. With high resolution and high frame rates, there is a lot of data that's being stored."

The 56 installed cameras include 42 i-Pro WV-NF284 color fixed mini-dome network cameras offering PoE, which has greatly simplified installation. The cameras provide a VGA image size up to 30 frames per second in dual streams of MPEG-4 and JPEG for simultaneous live monitoring and high-resolution recording. Other system cameras include four i-Pro WV-NW964 weatherproof day/night dome network cameras for images in virtually any lighting condition. The all-in-one PTZ units feature 30x optical zoom and auto image stabilization to compensate for vibration or wind.

Also in use are five vandalproof day/night fixed dome network cameras that are IP-66-rated, making them resistant to water and dust, and include a dehumidification device for use in various weather conditions. A WV-NP304 megapixel day/night network camera covers a wider viewing area with superior images and features a user-selectable light control to ensure image clarity in changing lighting conditions and/or different camera locations.

Four WV-CF294 compact day/night fixed dome cameras include a high-performance digital signal processor to provide better image quality. Adaptive black stretch technology transforms dark areas into crisp images. The mini-domes are used with a four-channel MPEG- 4/JPEG encoder to convert analog images into MPEG-4 or JPEG dual-streaming video.

The Future

The flexibility of the Panasonic solution will be paramount as the system expands in the coming months.

"Various factors will impact how the system develops; for example, if we have a critical mass or certain density of cameras in an area or if we want to keep bandwidth off certain parts of our network, we need flexibility," Young said. "We enjoy a very responsive network and are carefully monitoring how video surveillance is impacting it. At any point, if we need to segregate the video portion of the network, run it over separate fibers or make tradeoffs, we can do that."

This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Security Today.

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