The FullSight camera from Sentry 360 Security Inc. shows the overhead doors for the emergency ambulance entrance and staff parking lot.

As Great Plains Regional Medical Center in North Platte, Neb., has tripled in size over the last 20 years, improved electronic devices have kept the security guard detail at its current level.

Both Jeff Whalen, biomed supervisor, and Tom Didier, Great Plains’ director of engineering services, have been at the medical center for about 22 years and have witnessed the center’s growth.

Either just one or two security guards are on duty around the clock, and increased electronic security such as video cameras or access control devices have made the difference in allowing the center to keep security personnel costs down.

“It has allowed us not to have to increase the security staff as the hospital has grown in size,” Didier insists. “We’re getting off-site locations, but we’re still able to control what we need to watch, so we haven’t had to expand the number of guards.”

The latest upgrade to the hospital’s five-year-old security camera system is installation of 360-degree cameras -– 11 in total — to watch primarily public areas inside and outside the medical center.

“The ability to see an entire room, especially out in our atrium area, made it very advantageous,” Didier emphasizes. “It continued to enhance the whole system and give our guards an opportunity to really use the cameras as a security tool, because the clarity was there. That made a big difference.

“We really didn’t have a lot of our main entrances covered with cameras when we did that project,” Whalen says of the five-year-old surveillance camera installation. “The way those entrances were facing right to the west and the sun going down, there really wasn’t any shade there, so they aimed right at the sun every day. Over those years, they got to where they weren’t very good and weren’t the highest quality of cameras, even back then five years ago.”

The camera in the dome outside the cafeteria and doctor’s entrance to Great Plains Regional Medical Center, North Platte, Neb., has a 360-degree view.

All Directions at Once

The cameras used for this job are 360-degree digital FullSight cameras from Sentry 360 Security Inc., Naperville, Ill., that have analog outputs.

The processor inside the camera takes the load off the server. All proprietary analytics and logistics run inside the camera, making it easy to integrate with any DVR on the market.

“You can take this camera and you can drop it onto any system out there and it works, because the processing is done at the camera,” points out Rick Scheer, network solutions manager for integrator Glacier IT, a division of Control Masters Inc., Omaha, Neb.

The FullSight camera uses industry-standard protocols for pan-tilt-zoom control, thus enabling its seamless integration into existing infrastructure.

Scheer estimates each 360-degree camera can replace five to seven fixed ones. “It depends on the size of the room, what odd angles are in it, and what would obstruct a fixed camera from getting your full field of view,” Scheer explains. “You don’t have to worry about jumping from camera to camera — it’s all on one, especially if you have it set up to track. It just follows them around the corner.”

Points out Tom Carnevale, Sentry 360’s CEO, “For the end user, it reduces the number of cameras needed to be installed, purchased, maintained, and very importantly, investigated.

This 360-degree camera overlooks shipping and receiving, the loading dock, employee entrance, some car parking and the maintenance area.

“The analog feeds from the camera go to the video management system, and a live operator can choose what graphical interface to deploy on a live video,” Carnevale explains. “You can have multiple virtual cameras pointed in a single direction or a different direction coming from four different angles from each channel on a single camera, or you can have a panorama view. You can mix and match different displays in live mode all displayed on the video management system called eGuard.”

Because the 360-degree camera captures the entire view through a single, fish-eye lens, up to eight different views total can be viewed and panned simultaneously live within that field of view. This is done by using different portions of the 360-degree visual data from that single viewpoint.

Those virtual camera views are recorded on eGuard DVRs while the entire 360-degree view is recorded digitally in three-megapixel resolution by the FullSight recorder.

That master view can be replayed later without any loss of quality in 3-megapixel resolution, so anything that is missed by the virtual cameras can be captured later in the 360-degree view.

“No matter where the camera was pointed, you can go back in time and pan, tilt and zoom through 360 degrees of recorded video evidence,” Carnevale maintains.

The camera also has video analytics. The museum mode is designed to target high value items and will only trigger an alarm when an outlined object is missing from the scene for a predefined period of time.

The advanced tracking mode will track up to 64 different objects within the 360-degree field of view, which is ideal for any unmanned or partially manned CCTV installations.

Same-day surgery including the waiting area, registration desks and outside entrance is inspected by this 360-degree camera.

Selling and Installing the Job

Glacier IT obtained the hospital job when Scheer telephoned them. “My parent company, Control Masters, had done some work in that part of the state, so I made a call on them,” he tells.

He showed managers at the medical center a 360-degree camera, and they became enthused about the concept.

“I put the camera up — I’ve got a pole I can mount it on — and we go to just anyplace it would go,” Scheer relates. “I like to put it up and let everybody see exactly what they’re going to see once they have it. The camera sells itself at that point.”

Installation proceeded with the assistance of the hospital staff.

“The job was completed in two weeks,” Scheer reports. “It actually took me about half a week to do my piece of it. They did some of their own camera installation. Their physical folks did that. They did a wonderful job. Three, four days is what I had in there to physically put the cameras into the housings, do the configuring for them, and do the DVR system.”

Terry Matthews, Great Plains’ maintenance technician, worked on installation of the cameras. “Sometimes you had to adapt the cameras for the places you had to put them, make shelves to put the FullSight recorders up in the ceilings and make special brackets to mount in the ceiling so they’d be sturdy enough so they wouldn’t shake,” Matthews relates.

“We dressed them up so you couldn’t see the cable hanging,” he continues. “We put them in different casings and things like that and painted them to match so they looked presentable. We have problems with bulkheads, and so we couldn’t cut into the ceiling. We had to mount them lower so they could get around for better views.”

The cable from the FullSight camera to the FullSight recorder that records the entire 360-degree view digitally cannot be any longer than 10 feet because of the speed at which the digital information must travel, Carnevale explains.

That speed is 108 MB per second, faster than the gigabit Ethernet, he asserts. The high-resolution video is stored without any compression to preserve image consistency and quality.

That distance limitation will be gone with an improved IP version of the camera which was announced this month. The new FullSight IP camera features 5-megapixel resolution and a faster processor to create an almost unlimited amount of independently controlled views, while still being able to run video analytics onboard.

Two more eGuard DVRs have been ordered to provide additional functionality to the FullSight system. With this addition, any authorized person will be able to view cameras remotely, produce incident reports and conduct advanced video searches, while making the solution IP-available.

Cable runs for the new system included analog cable that extends from the new cameras to the medical center’s security room.

The 360-degree cameras give a new sense of security to staff members, Whalen maintains.

“I think our admissions people feel a lot better — we now have that fairly well-covered,” Whalen relates. “Sometimes they’re faced with someone not feeling well or sick. Patients sometimes get agitated, so I think they feel a little more secure that somebody might be helping keep an eye on them.”

As the medical center’s size expands, enhancements to its security system are expected to continue. “We’re constantly growing,” Didier declares. “We’re looking at another major expansion in the next couple of years.

“With that expansion, all the security services will be built right into the project itself,” he promises. “This is equipment that we’ve really started to get into since about 1998, and now instead of it being something special, it’s just part of the project. It’s the way we choose to do business.”

Sidebar: On the Job

  • From Sentry 360 Security Inc., Naperville, Ill.,

  • 2 Sentry 360 eGuard 120fps, 16-channel hybrid DVRs

  • 11 FullSight cameras

  • 11 FullSight recorders

  • 5 FullSight domes

  • 6 FullSight power supplies

  • 5 FullSight outdoor wall mounts

  • 3 FullSight outdoor corner mounts

  • 5 Altronix power supplies

  • Pelco KBD300a keyboard

  • Pelco keyboard power

  • Pelco code distribution unit

  • RS232-RS485 converter

Sidebar: PROJECTS in the News

More than 300 network cameras fromAxis Communications, Chelmsford, Mass., were installed in three casinos owned by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The network cameras will be used in conjunction with the universal video management system solution from Petards Inc., a security supplier to the Choctaw Nation. The network cameras were installed in the Durant, Broken Bow and Pocola casinos to monitor gaming floors, high-stakes poker tables and slot machines. The Choctaw Nation selected a network-based solution because it wanted to implement a more advanced surveillance system that could handle the increased foot traffic in existing and new casinos.

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A major thoroughfare on the south side of Milwaukee, National Ave., benefits from day/night high-resolution cameras with 5-55mm and 8.5-85mm varifocal lenses fromRainbow CCTV/ISO, Costa Mesa, Calif. The lenses produce views of known trouble spots from storefronts in an area with a history of social problems. A main receiving center on National Ave. is equipped with 32-channel digital video recorders with 2 terabytes of storage. This wireless, IP-addressable system has its analog signals converted using interfaces from Pelco. The installation was performed by S-O-S Electronics Corp., Milwaukee.

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Adesta, LLC, Omaha, Neb., was awarded a $1.4 million contract from the Port of Houston Authority for the design, installation and integration with the port’s existing access control systems of an intelligent video security surveillance system. It will monitor the outputs of approximately 150 cameras at port terminals. The expected project completion date is Feb. 2008.

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One of the largest privately held convenience store chains in the United States, E-Z Mart, selectedWestec InterActive, West Des Moines, Iowa, to provide bidirectional interactive security and operational improvement systems chain-wide for the company’s 300-plus stores. The installation and upgrade of all systems is expected to be completed this month. E-Z Mart, based in Texarkana, Texas, began using Westec’s advanced interactive systems in 1999, and now has more than 125 systems installed in its locations. E-Z Mart plans to upgrade and reconfigure existing systems to the Westec iVR, intelligent video recorder, which offers flexible recording options, online account management, and enterprise-wide device management capabilities. A number of stores will have eight to 16 cameras, depending on their size and monitoring needs.