Work Hard Play Hard

Albuquerque hotel, casino upgrades surveillance system to provide best customer experience

Whether you’re visiting for a weekend getaway or a business conference, a meeting or a round of golf, the four-star, family-friendly Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Albuquerque is dedicated to offering its guests a pleasant stay with amenities that include a full-service spa. The security for the property and guests is also full-service.

One of the most secure properties in the city, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Albuquerque decided earlier this year to further enhance the protection offered by upgrading its security video surveillance system. The facility started by seeking advice and estimates for the job.

“We decided that improved security will be welcomed by our guests and improve our efficiency,” said Michelle Barrwick, surveillance director at the facility. “One of our goals included reusing any legacy system components or products, something we knew would be a challenge for the winning bidder. The upgrade is something we wanted to do right away, fully installed and executed by the end of the 2012 calendar year.”

Getting the Upgrades

Upgrading the system to include new, IP-based, high-definition video surveillance cameras and other equipment required an integrator that understood how to design and execute a hybrid system. After a competitive bidding round, the Hard Rock site selected Surveillance Systems Integration (SSI) as the preferred project leader for the migration and upgrade for the property.

SSI is headquartered in Roseville, Calif., and recently announced expansion plans, opening new offices this year in Tulsa and Seattle, as part of its growth strategy eyeing a bigger piece of the casino, retail and commercial markets. Specializing in retrofitting and upgrading existing systems to include the latest in security video surveillance technology, the project at Hard Rock Albuquerque was a perfect match of ability to need.

After receiving notice that SSI was selected for the project, a team was immediately commissioned to evaluate the state of the systems to plan and procure the parts that would be necessary to improve the legacy surveillance system. To meet the needs and solve the challenges presented by the hotel and casino, the team decided to feature Avigilon’s end-to-end solution. Avigilon designs and manufactures high-definition surveillance solutions. The hardware and software work together in a new system or they can work with existing systems to enhance the current capabilities, making it possible to create a customized and scalable surveillance system. The planned system at Hard Rock represents Avigilon’s largest casino installation upgrade in the United States.

“We chose to use Avigilon’s end-toend solution for Hard Rock Hotel and Casino because it is easy to combine with legacy systems,” said Al Croteau, business development manager at SSI. “Also, it helps enhance the existing system to capture footage in high definition, the best image clarity the industry offers, to provide the best evidence possible. This system also offers advanced network video management software, allowing the client to manage the system from workstations that work together. The project requires us to work closely with the surveillance team at the casino and with Avigilon to choose the right products to mix and match with the high-quality existing resources the property already had.”

The Hard Rock project will include an update from analog to HD cameras, additional video encoders to enhance existing equipment, and multiple workstations and servers on a large scale, upgrading the quality and ability to identify threats in real-time while recording continuously. The system will use the Avigilon Control Center, featuring network video management software with high-definition stream management (HDSM) technology. The control center effectively captures, manages and stores high-definition multi-megapixel surveillance video while efficiently managing bandwidth and storage.

The software also records and manages both audio and video from the installed multi-megapixel IP cameras, easily accommodating conventional and PTZ analog cameras, as well as both audio and video from a broad variety of third-party IP cameras and encoders from other manufacturers. The control center allows a hybrid system for a budget-conscious migration from analog to digital, which is just what the client had requested.

Supporting the Plan

The system at the hotel and casino was also designed to support Avigilon NVRs to store up to 30 days of continuous surveillance footage. The video recorders offer the site several distinct benefits: a plug-and-play network video recording solution for managing multimegapixel IP cameras and analog cameras, scalable recording that can record footage from up to 96 cameras on a single HD NVR, a unique workstation configuration that allows standalone viewing and recording from one machine for simple deployment in an installed system, and a server configuration in a standard rack-mount enclosure with enterprise-class hardware to ensure maximum reliability.

With the control center and NVR solution, managing the system from the site’s workstations would be simple and efficient. Additionally, the system uses Winsted Console Systems (Sightline), 18 LCD monitors varying in size from 24 inches to 46 inches, a combination of Cisco Network Switches and Vigitron IP over coaxial devices and West Penn Fiber from the IDF rooms to the head end, and wire for the system wiring. The Winstead Console and LCD monitors are part of a completely new monitor room designed especially for the Hard Rock. One of the most important elements of the migration was that the system was designed and planned so there will be zero downtime during the cutover from the existing system to the new solution.

“With a solution in place to meet the customer’s needs, we could then address one of the other concerns mentioned by the hotel and casino—they wanted to be more sustainable,” Croteau said. “As we reviewed the power requirements for the new system upgrade, we found that by switching to the Avigilon end-to-end solution, we would provide them with not only a high-image quality but one that would actually reduce the annual power consumed by the security surveillance system.

“Our team of SSI engineers and system designers were able to cut up to 70 percent of the annual power usage by the system while also providing recommendations that would increase the security and operations efficiency for Hard Rock.”

After coming up with upgrade suggestions and plans to not only meet but exceed the expectations of the client, SSI shared them with the customer for review.

Staying on Budget

“We were thrilled to see the plans that included state-of-the-art equipment for no more than our requested budget restriction, but we were even more excited when we learned that the new system upgrades would allow us to save up to 70 percent of the power the video surveillance system had used in the past,” Barrwick said. “To us, this exceeded our expectations, especially since we had added so many high-definition, IPbased cameras, as we believed that the newer technology would take more energy to operate. SSI’s choices were a great match to what we had envisioned when we embarked on the bidding process.”

“Being an end-to-end solution provider that is capable of managing the project from the design phase to execution, SSI is able to line up the schedule to meet our clients’ needs, even in their schedule requests. Because we oversee the entire process, we are able to provide a seamless project that minimizes downtime for the customer,” Croteau said.

Training is critical, and employee familiarity with the new system is expected to be minimal. But with powerful solutions such as HD recording and playback timelines, the capability to bookmark and export HD surveillance footage, detailed management, monitoring and reporting of system status and security lets administrators and operators map any camera or system event to an action for faster identification of threats or incidents and improved response times.

“We anticipate minimized installation costs and training costs— the pleasant surprises keep coming from SSI,” Barwick said.

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of Security Today.

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