A Market Focus

A Market Focus

Renowned systems integrator dominates gaming space for all the right reasons

Since North American Video (NAV) was founded in 1995, the systems integrator has continued to build an outstanding reputation in the physical security market. To date, they have built an installed base of more than 500,000 channels of video at many of the most recognized venues in the world. Although the numbers are impressive, it is what drives them that is perhaps most impressive: their connection with customers, and their ability to integrate beyond technology.

Integrating Technology and People

There have been key cultural differentiators at NAV from the very beginning.

“NAV developed its own operating culture as a result of our core values and practices, not by design,” CEO at NAV Jason Oakley said. “From the earliest days when the company founders were working out of a garage in Brick, N.J., customer transparency and engagement were top priorities. Communicating directly with customers about their needs, concerns, visions and limitations set the table for how systems were designed, configured, implemented and supported. It’s very much the same operating philosophy we follow today, and it continues to deliver positive results.”

The first installation was for a casino property in Mississippi which included hundreds of analog cameras and dozens of recorders routed through a legacy analog matrix system. The design-build process went extremely well, the customer was pleased with the results, and NAV hasn’t looked back as a company since.

In fact, NAV has grown to be a premier systems integrator for the gaming market with more than 100 gaming installations currently active across the United States. NAV has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to deliver complex projects with the highest levels of technology and support, completed on-time and on-budget—one of the most important criteria when working in casino environments dependent on gaming revenues.

Compliance is King

In addition to the typically stringent revenue models found at the foundation of every gaming operation’s business model, the need to comply with federal, state and local regulations have a tremendous influence on operations and business practices. This is specifically relevant to use of video surveillance and security systems in casinos, which are governed by three sets of regulations from local, state, and federal gaming entities. In order to minimize the risk of being exposed to regulatory actions, casinos must comply with an array of requirements that can run the gamut from conducting risk assessments and screenings, to establishing internal reporting systems, to the implementation of specific surveillance performance criteria. Failure to comply can lead to heavy fines and in very severe cases, termination of business operations. To ensure compliance, NAV holds numerous certifications with the world’s leading security and IT companies, and licenses in multiple geographical and tribal jurisdictions to support both new and established corporate and tribal gaming customers.

In addition to technology mandates, casinos also need to adhere to strict regulations regarding risk assessments and screenings. As part of a comprehensive security solution, NAV’s portfolio of services includes highly detailed screening and background checks for employees, consultants, suppliers, vendors, distributors, advisors, lessees and tenants to uncover past criminal and regulatory transgressions, compliance violations, and any misleading or false information on an employee’s application or other documents that verify an identity. Additional screenings can also include past or current litigation issues against any supplier, vendor, distributor, employee or anyone who conducts business with the casino.

True Integration Demands Technology Expertise

“To truly understand the intricacies and complexities of physical security system integration, you need a team that is well versed in all technologies and product categories required for enterprise level solutions,” Oakley said. “We recognized the future and importance of integrated system solutions from day one, and we’ve continued to educate and expand our team so we have the talent on-board to put all the pieces together.”

The company’s close relationships with gaming professionals are mirrored by the close partnerships they maintain with the industry’s leading manufacturers of security, surveillance and IT equipment. These technology partners enhance NAV’s ability to implement and integrate truly complex solutions employing the latest products and technologies. With video surveillance technology being a core competency, an experienced team remains ahead of industry trends, enabling them to design and install best-in-class networked and hybrid solutions tailored to each individual property.

Video surveillance requirements and regulations for gaming facilities often require 30 days’ retention of video, while other regulations may require seven days, or three months. Virtually all gaming institutions are required to have surveillance cameras in place and operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Compliance requirements cover a range of factors, including the image quality; the number, capacity, quality and location of security cameras; procedures for video surveillance coverage, and policies regarding the retention of activity recorded on hard drives or other media.

To meet the litany of compliance regulations, NAV designs and installs video surveillance solutions employing leading technologies from the industry’s top manufacturers and suppliers—all designed and implemented based on the specific security objectives for each property. All video surveillance solutions are natively engineered to integrate across various physical security systems including various analytics, access control, remote and mobile applications, POS, fire and life safety systems, elevators and people movers, and lighting.

But it’s not all about speeds and feeds when designing a casino’s integrated video surveillance and security system. NAV takes a range of factors into consideration including the geography of the installation, noise interference, and other possible sources of system disruption to help ensure that systems are r eliable and secure. Other factors such as ongoing maintenance, streamlined troubleshooting, and scalability for future expansion are also key considerations that are built into every project design right from the start.

Access control is another core competency that is commonly integrated with video surveillance security systems. Electronic access control and alarm management systems are often the primary foundation for any gaming facility’s physical security system, providing a first line of defense from intrusion and other hazards. Properly designed, installed, and maintained access control systems provide high levels of authentication and identification to protect valuable assets, while concurrently minimizing risks and liabilities, and reducing operational expenses.

The company delivers meaningful access control solutions to meet the diverse requirements of gaming facilities that often combine hospitality and gaming operations under the same roof. In fact, many gaming properties employ enterprise-class systems that span multisites and multi-tenants onto a unified management platform. The access control portfolio includes a full range of applicable products, including biometrics, smart cards and proximity devices, card readers, keypads, long-range readers, controllers, mantraps, and visitor management systems, among other products and accessories.

To further enhance and deliver enterprise-level system solutions beyond video and access, the design team also specializes in intrusion detection and perimeter protection to push security beyond properties’ physical structures. Perimeter security is an often-overlooked component of a gaming properties’ protection plan that can dramatically impact the effectiveness of a facility’s overall security. On the other hand, places perimeter security high on its priority list when designing holistic solutions, beginning with a comprehensive assessment of all zones of protection including all exterior locations and vehicle and pedestrian entry/egress points. This allows the design team to best evaluate possible vulnerabilities, which are then addressed in their proposed integrated system recommendation.

Rounding out their extensive technology services portfolio, NAV also offers a comprehensive portfolio of services that range from security risk and needs assessments to on-site training and systems maintenance to complement their systems integration offerings.

An unparalleled experience in the gaming industry is documented by a long list of gaming clients that include: Caesars Palace, Golden Nugget, the Borgata, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos, MGM Grand, Tropicana, Maryland Live!, Fond-du-Luth Casino, Snoqualmie Casino, Soaring Eagle Casino, Seminoles’ Hard Rock Casinos, Pechanga and many other leading commercial and tribal gaming facilities across the United States.

A recent installation has been completed for the Fond-du-Luth Casino in Duluth, Minn., along with the Black Bear Casino located in nearby Carlton, Minn., both owned and operated by the Fond du Lac Indian Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Opened in 1986 in the former Sears and Roebuck building in downtown Duluth, Fond-du-Luth Casino features two gaming floors, 700 slot machines, four blackjack tables and two bar lounges occupying more than 20,000 square feet.

Fond-du-Luth has undergone a number of changes over the years, both in operations and in management. From its original inception as a high stakes bingo hall to today’s full array of gaming offerings, the most recent evolution of the Fond-du-Luth Casino involved a complete renovation of the casino’s first and second floors, as well as an upgrade to the casino’s video surveillance and access control systems.

There were many challenges in modernizing the 30-year-old casino, including a very aggressive time frame to complete the facility upgrade in only three months. Construction and system upgrades had to be completed one floor at a time so the casino could continue operations while the renovations were taking place. The new video surveillance and security system also had to be designed for integration on a unified control platform, be scalable for future expansion, deliver high quality imaging, provide bandwidth control, and provide overall ease of use by operators from a new control room.

To help ensure the success in implementing these requirements, Fond-du-Luth turned to their long-time technology partner. Working together, a plan was put in place to implement a new fully integrated IP surveillance and security solution that would replace the facility’s legacy analog video system and the 30-year-old access control system. The new video surveillance system selected for the casino, includes a VMS along with more than 400 5MP IP mini-dome cameras, and 25 NVRs.

In the new control room, operators manage all system activities via the VMS, and can monitor multiple cameras and views on a video wall composed of eight 55-inch monitors in a four by two configuration. The high resolution 5MP cameras provide the detail and clarity needed in a casino environment while the integration of cameras with the new access control system provides the ability to push live video in alarm situations onto to the video wall for increased situational awareness.

Bandwidth usage is controlled via built-in intelligence, CPU resources, and programmed memory allocation. The new IP cameras also feature H.264 compression to reduce bandwidth consumption, lowering network traffic and decreasing storage costs. Multicast video streams further reduce the bandwidth required for streaming high quality video.

“This was a complex project and process because of the phased deployment of an entirely new video surveillance and security system, but NAV handled it all with extreme professionalism and expertise,” said Bruce Blacketter, the surveillance manager at the Fond-du- Luth Casino.

“Fond-du-Luth Casino is representative of so many of the gaming facilities and properties we’ve partnered with over the years,” NAV Vice President Laurie Smock said. “Their security needs are continually evolving along with the compliance regulations governing their operations. By maintaining close relationships with our clients, technology providers and gaming regulations entities, NAV manages the perfect balance of integrating technology and people. That has and will continue to be what drives our growth and success.”

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of Security Today.

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