PGA Event Proved Tough to Secure, but Solved Using Hosted Video Solution
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The TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course was designed by Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia to provide a challenging game for golfers. However, when this site hosted the 2012 Valero Texas Open, the players were not the only ones faced with strategic challenges. Providing video surveillance for the annual PGA tour and charity event, held this year in April, was no small task. Given the expansive outdoor layout and limited available power sources, a traditional analog system’s large amounts of cables, wires and recording equipment made it an impractical option in terms of both cost and logistics. Additionally, because the course is built on top of an aquifer, burying the cable was not an option. Television crews’ and production staff’s equipment made additional demands on limited resources. Even finding suitable locations to mount cameras was a challenge, as most of the options were on temporary, movable structures, such as tents and signs. Because the event was televised, copyright issues were also a concern; surveillance cameras had to avoid capturing any part of the event protected by PGA broadcast rights.
David McVicker, national account manager for NAVCO Security, headquartered in Anaheim, Calif., was faced with designing a system that could be quickly and efficiently deployed and still tackle all of these problems. “Hosted video gave us a pretty elegant solution,” McVicker said. Making the most of the available infrastructure, all that was needed to set up the IP video system was the existing Internet connection, a laptop and several PoE cameras. “That really speaks to the simplicity of the installation,” said Matt Krebs, business development manager, Cloud Solutions, Axis Communications Inc., Chelmsford, Mass. The company provided cameras and hosting software for the Valero Texas Open.
Axis Video Hosting System (AVHS) software provides a fully customizable platform that allowed NAVCO’s technicians to quickly configure and deploy multiple cameras and direct video uploading to off-site storage provided by Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corporation. The portability provided by AVHS software combined with off-site video hosting make it an ideal solution for temporary security installations like the Valero Open. Once the cameras are provisioned, the connection to the video host site remains intact even when the system is dismantled, allowing integrators to reduce set up time at the next event. “Some integrators can provision all the cameras at the office [before the event],” Krebs said. “It’s a huge time saver.” This is especially important for events, like the Valero installation, where integrators have to work with very limited, tightly scheduled set up times.
Among the seven cameras installed at the Open, two outdoor-ready Axis P5534 PTZ dome network cameras were used: one at the main entrance and another in the Valero VIP tent. At the entrance gate, coverage of a large area (including the admission tent, main walkway and shuttle bus drop-off) was needed, but camera mounting options were limited. Even though the camera had to be installed approximately 80 yards away, the powerful zoom capability (18x optical zoom) of the P5534 allowed for full surveillance of the area. In the Valero VIP tent, McVicker used the camera’s software to set limitations on the pan/tilt/zoom settings of the P5534, allowing Valero employees to manipulate the camera as needed without inadvertently recording views of the event protected by television rights.
Selected for its thermal imaging capability, an Axis Q1921 Thermal Network Camera was installed at the main gate to monitor the parking lot and golf cart storage areas, providing enhanced surveillance of these sensitive areas both day and night.
Two 5-megapixel/1080p Axis P1347-E cameras were deployed: one to monitor crowds at the highly-trafficked hospitality suite, Cabana at 16, and the other to monitor the cash registers and the patron floor at the Valero Corner Store. A great all-around camera according to McVicker, having a maximum resolution of 2560 X 1920, the Axis P1347 provides sharp details and color contrast, making it ideal for crowd control and use in forensic analysis. While bandwidth considerations can limit the degree of resolution for hosted video, AVHS allows for two streams of video from the cameras to enable hybrid installations in which higher resolution video can be stored on-site.
Though it was not installed for the Valero Texas Open because of time constraints, at the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in September 2011, NAVCO installed an Iomega 4 terabyte PX4-300 NAS drive, featuring redundant array independent disks (RAID configured) to provide redundancy, backup, and quick fail-safe detection to complement the off-site video storage.
McVicker worked with AT&T to ensure the appropriate upload speeds were available for transmitting video to the cloud. “Most people think about download speed,” he said. “Generally Internet providers don’t give a huge upload pipe because people don’t need it.” Because this is often overlooked, McVicker emphasizes that it is critical that integrators to work with the local Internet service provider to ensure sufficient bandwidth availability when designing hosted video solutions.
While reducing the amount of on-site equipment was a logistical necessity at the Valero Texas Open installation, reducing the amount of equipment offers advantages in other environments as well. Less equipment on-site means reduced capital investments and labor costs for clients at initial installation. Because much of the equipment is located off-site and the systems can be maintained remotely, long-term costs for equipment upgrades and maintenance can also be reduced by moving to the cloud. Similarly, if compliance regulations change, it is easier for users to add additional storage by upgrading hosted services than replacing or adding equipment.
Hosted video and hybrid solutions provide many benefits for both end users and the integrators. “Hosted video as a technology is a game changer; it totally transforms how the market will deploy and consume video surveillance,” Krebs said.
“Cloud recording is here: small systems today, enterprise systems tomorrow,” said Jim Kauker, chief sales officer for NAVCO. “If you are not currently an expert in today’s cloud solutions, chances are you will not be ready for enterprise solutions once the technology is ready for you.”
Moving video storage to the cloud offers complete elasticity in pricing, providing end users plenty of flexibility in terms of the equipment and hosting services they choose, said Pat Snow, director of video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) solutions for EMC Corporation. “That’s the transition happening in the IT world, and it’s occurring in the security world. There’s cost-savings to be had.”
Hosted video can protect existing client relationships. “The threat of takeover from competition is virtually done away with as once a camera is locked down into this hosted system, a competitor cannot come in and easily take it over,” Krebs said.
Looking ahead, the trend in hosted video will be toward enterprise solutions catering to industry-specific needs while providing additional revenue opportunities. Current hosted video applications are just the beginning, said Snow, who foresees tremendous potential for bringing analytics to the cloud. Industry experts are searching for ways to mine useful information from all of the video collected by surveillance systems. Understanding how customers move through a store or how employees execute a task can be used to develop marketing strategies or streamline procedures. “The goal is to take that into the cloud and sell analytics on a report basis, which is easier for the customer to use and consume,” Snow said.
Forming strategic partnerships is essential for competing in this space. Krebs said Axis Communications concentrates on developing software and camera equipment, and relies on its partners to provide the best quality services and products in their areas of expertise. “That’s the beauty of IP. It allows you to find the best pieces and bring it all together,” Krebs said.
McVicker believes that a solid partnership with the manufacturer is the foundation for creating good relationships with end users. Beyond providing equipment and software, manufacturers can help educate integrators about the technology and how to market it.
Ultimately, the partnership between NAVCO, Axis, and EMC worked to ensure a successful installation at the Valero Texas Open. McVicker said that the all the feedback he received was positive. The system did what it was designed to do; TPC San Antonio staff and the sheriff’s department were able to monitor different parts of the course by logging in on-site or via mobile devices, and the week-long event passed without an incident. “The cameras achieved what we wanted to do, deter theft and prevent loss,” McVicker said.
Based on their success at the Valero Texas Open and the Deutsche Bank Championship, Krebs said Axis and its partners will seek to provide hosted video surveillance at future PGA competitions and similar events.
“We’ve formed partnerships to provide best-in-class hosting and integration solutions — that’s a strong position to take,” Krebs said.
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