An Eye on Paradise

An Eye on Paradise

Maui County migrates to a centralized security system

An Eye on ParadiseThere are eight main islands that make up Hawaii, and four are a part of the county of Maui: Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. Together, these islands encompass approximately 2,400 square miles and a population of 154,000 residents. Recently, the county implemented an initiative to migrate toward one centralized system for all security, including access control, biometrics and surveillance on its three populated islands, excluding Kahoolawe, which does not have any residents or county buildings.

With 2,500 employees and myriad buildings on the three islands, including business offices, police stations, fire stations, prosecuting attorney offices, water department facilities, golf courses and maintenance yards, integrating a countywide security system was no small feat. With just the surveillance system alone, county officials have more than 125 cameras to maintain and manage on their network. Initially, the system was installed to protect critical infrastructure, including five county administration buildings, the Maui Police Department and the Maui Water Department. After realizing the value of one centralized system, county officials began looking at ways to expand security reach and protect other areas.

“Our goal was to integrate all of our departments onto a single platform that allows us to control all of the security subsystems,” said Dennis Schwind, security coordinator and executive assistant to Maui County’s managing director.

One of the challenges the county needed to tackle was expanding its surveillance system to include cameras that could protect facilities, parking areas, and hundreds of county vehicles after hours.

“We have millions of dollars worth of vehicles parked outside and, in the past, we’ve had vehicles, tires and gasoline stolen,” Schwind said.

In addition, after a tsunami hit Hawaii in 2011, the county decided it needed to expand its surveillance even further to monitor beaches and main highways during emergencies.

The county had been using analog fixed cameras and domes, but was unhappy with the picture quality and performance. County officials also were looking for day/night cameras that could be managed from a network. Due to the expanse of the system, PoE cameras would cut down on cabling costs and make for a more efficient installation. Initially, megapixel cameras were tested at two locations, but county officials did not like the images they were getting in low-light conditions, Schwind said.

A Bright Solution

Together, Maui County and its integrator company, Security Resources, enlisted the help of Don Coker, president of Seevid Inc., a manufacturers’ rep company that helped the organization test out different products and determine which cameras and systems best fit the county’s needs.

“They really helped us work out the deal with the manufacturers to put together trial systems. It’s important to be able to try out these products,” said Patrick O’Brien, chief executive officer at Security Resources.

Ultimately, county officials decided on American Dynamics Illustra 610 day/ night cameras from Tyco Security Products because of their performance in lowlight conditions and their cost effectiveness.

“The decision was motivated by the ability to record and reproduce video with substantially better resolution than we had previously,” Schwind said. “In addition, the higher resolution allows for better coverage from a single camera position, allowing us to protect more areas with fewer cameras. The high-definition megapixel cameras also feature built-in face detection capabilities that the county plans to leverage in the future.

Security Resources had the task of integrating the county’s surveillance, access control and other systems onto one networked platform, a project that cost approximately $1.5 million. Homeland Security grant money was used for the first phase of the project, which included the day/night camera installations, as well as part of subsequent phases of the project.

“One of the key factors of the whole system is having everything communicate,” O’Brien said. “That started with looking at the original system and looking at new technology to tie everything all together.”

By controlling security from a centralized location, the county also wanted to provide the mayor’s office with a video snapshot of what was happening countywide, which a networked platform can help achieve.

O’Brien said from an economic standpoint, the American Dynamics cameras fit into the overall system well because their PoE capabilities decrease cabling costs and they can be tweaked and upgraded right from the network. Auto-zoom and focus features allow county security staff to adjust a camera’s field of view right from the computer, without having to climb a ladder to adjust it.

“The county, like most customers, needed the best products and technology to meet their requirements at the best price,” O’Brien said. “The county can protect an area with fewer cameras and with fixed megapixel cameras, where they might have used analog PTZ cameras in the past.”

No Longer in the Dark

Before to installing the day/night cameras, security staff were not able to see suspicious activity after dark.

“We had one incident where a golf cart was being stolen in the dark, and our old cameras showed only the headlights,” Schwind said. “We couldn’t tell who was on the cart or whether it was a man or a woman.”

One of the benefits county officials realized with the American Dynamics cameras was their anti-reflection technology, which, along with the low-light capabilities, prevented blurred pictures due to headlights or street lamps.

“Our new cameras provide a crystal clear image that can help us identify a person in a situation like this,” Schwind said.

Since the installation, the county has put its cameras to the test. After vehicles at one of the country’s parking facilities were vandalized, county officials identified a suspect from the highresolution video.

“This would not have been possible with the previous cameras we had deployed,” Schwind said.

In the project’s first phase, 12 Illustra 610 cameras were installed outside municipal offices, police stations, fire departments, water department facilities and golf courses. Other facilities, such as the fire department headquarters and new county construction projects, are getting upgrades to high-definition megapixel cameras.

“There is no sense in having a camera if you can’t view the image and determine who is in the video,” Schwind said. “For our needs, a day/night camera was the only way to go to ensure proper surveillance of the exterior of our buildings and our vehicle storage areas.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Security Today.

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