Multi-vendor integration observes the highest standards
- By Taylor Foster
- Jan 04, 2016
Merlin Entertainment needed a full-scale security solution for
its new central-Florida triple-attraction complex: The Orlando
Eye, Madame Tussaud’s Orlando and SEA LIFE Orlando.
Their chief security concerns were focused on ensuring a
good flow throughout the property for guests while keeping
unauthorized personnel out of restricted areas. They also wanted extra tight access
control of the ride area, garage parking and electrical rooms.
NETWORK VIDEO SOLUTION INTEGRATED WITH ACCESS CONTROL
To help choose the right security solution, Merlin Entertainment enlisted Signature
Systems of Florida, a long-time provider of Milestone Systems Video Management
Software (VMS), Axis Communications network video cameras, and
Open Options access control products.
Merlin Entertainment Security Manager Phillip Wallinger, along with Signature
Systems of Florida President Phil Lutes and his team, decided the best solution
for the video surveillance component of the project would be to deploy 250
network cameras operating Milestone XProtect Enterprise VMS. The solution
uses a majority of Axis cameras.
The VMS solution worked best for this vast entertainment complex because it
was developed for large, multi-site installations. Its comprehensive features help
operators view many locations with an unlimited number of cameras, allowing
them to react quickly to incidents and efficiently export video. The software includes
configuration wizards and automatic hardware detection, which significantly
reduce the time and cost of installing surveillance systems with many cameras.
The software provides exceptional situational awareness with multi-layered, interactive
maps, sophisticated alarm handling and a unique Camera Navigator for
tracking moving objects.
Daily operations at the Orlando Eye complex are controlled and viewed with
the Milestone XProtect Smart Client. Non-stationary security staff can also access
live and recorded video via supporting applications on mobile devices.
For access control, Merlin and Signature Systems of Florida selected Open Options’
DNA Fusion software. The sprawling complex in Orlando can be managed
via a regular client, the web, or Apple and Android smartphones. It provides a
complete access control solution including door control, visitor management, and
photo ID management in an open platform.
As a true open platform system, DNA Fusion interfaces seamlessly with other
security systems such as video, biometrics and wireless locks. In fact, DNA Fusion
has integrated with VMS products for years.
This provides end users such as The Orlando Eye security team a simple yet
powerful way to deliver access control events and data, which expands integration
benefits for the customer by giving them a choice in where they monitor and manage
their unified security system.
OPEN OPTIONS PROVIDES
PREMIER ACCESS CONTROL
The DNA Fusion software, which provides
access control for all the doors to
the facility, makes it very easy to control
access levels for the more than 500
employees throughout the Orlando Eye
“You come to the drop-down menu,
and it’s just a matter of choosing which
doors you want for which access levels,”
Wallinger said. “In addition, once everyone
has the assigned access, it’s so
easy to go into their profile and add or
subtract access levels.”
Ridanpaa says that Signature Systems
has long recommended Open Options
and DNA Fusion.
“We have been using Open Options
for many years,” Ridanpaa said. “We
have such a great relationship with
them, and have confidence that any issue
we might have will get resolved immediately
with minimal hassle.”
OPEN PLATFORM INTEROPERABILITY
Merlin Entertainment chose this threepronged
security solution with present
and future needs in mind. While Merlin
was impressed with Milestone’s
wide array of feature sets and open
platform, a critical selling point was
the system’s deep, seamless integration
with Axis cameras and Open Options
Using the three together provided a
top-quality, cost-effective solution for
the present while offering more integration
features for the future. Merlin
found the technology easy to train on,
appreciated the flexibility and quality
of cameras as well as features like autofocus
that save time and manpower.
Merlin was also impressed with the access
control software system for door
BENEFITS OF OPEN PLATFORM
Wiljo Ridanpaa, project manager for
Signature Systems of Florida, said that
open architecture technologies provide
a big advantage over competitors.
“It’s a no-brainer to use these three
security platforms,” Ridanpaa said.
Phillip Wallinger, security manager
for Marlin Entertainment said that the
ability to autofocus the cameras was an
important factor when choosing a camera
“Axis has gone above and beyond in
their arena,” Ridanpaa says. “The ability
to autofocus may seem like a simple
tool, but it’s absolutely essential.”
Ridanpaa says he loves the processing
power of the cameras and the convenient
feature sets, like the ability to
rotate views and set up hallway views
with the Corridor Format. Ridanpaa
also appreciates the ability to change
image resolutions which improves how
video gets streamed across the network,
as well as tweaking the format for exporting
and sending photos and video.
“I can put a low-level technician on
a camera installation,” Ridanpaa said.
“They’ll scan the network, see the IP
address automatically picked up in the
Milestone wizard and license the camera.
The default settings give you everything
EASE OF USE SAVES
HOURS OF TRAINING
Wallinger says that Merlin Entertainment
had a certain comfort level with
Milestone from prior uses at other places
such as Legoland and their Michigan
SEA LIFE facility.
“This solution is extremely easy to
use,” Wallinger says. “We have all of
our internal security trained on it, as
well as our dispatchers and some of
our administrators. They know how
to change settings from 4:3 to 16:9 and
how to have one camera on a view or
Training is helpful and quick and is
usually finished within a few hours.
“It’s very dynamic when we do training,”
Ridanpaa says. “In this instance
the main security officer (Wallinger) was
well versed in the software so it was just
introducing him to new features. For
others, it can be one to three hours. This
covers everything from turning the computer
on to rebooting the entire system.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Wallinger says there are exciting future
prospects for the system, especially involving
further integration of the Milestone
video interface and Open Options’
DNA Fusion access control.
“One thing we’re really excited
about is integrating the ID verification
option,” Wallinger says. ”It would allow
us to see an employee’s photo as
soon as they swipe their badge and
make the cameras shift to show video
of the door they’re going through simultaneously.
That way you’re able to
verify the picture on the badge with
the actual image of the person who’s
going through that door.”
Ridanpaa says he is excited about
expanding features available to Merlin
through the joint integrations of Axis,
Milestone and Open Options.
“We have a great starting point
with the Milestone platform,” Ridanpaa
says. “It gives us the benefit of using
mapping features in the XProtect
Smart Client, which lets you quickdraw
a camera or event and hover over
it to get a preview. With Open Options,
we also have mapping ability. You can
click on the door and actually put a
highlight on it to see if it’s being held
or being forced. All these features are in
the planning stages but we are excited
to have them at our
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Security Today.