Technology @ Work: September 2012
Emergency Communications Solutions: Focus on Communication Drives Smooth University Installation
When American University, located in Washington, hired a new director of public safety, Daniel Nichols, one of his first goals was to update the university’s aging security infrastructure, which included installing emergency phone wall mounts and towers throughout the campus from Talk-A-Phone, Niles, Ill. Nichols, who had previously spent the last 27 years working for the U.S. Capitol police, most recently as assistant chief of police, hired Integrated Security Technologies (IST) to oversee the installation of the new emergency phones. Michael Ruddo, vice president of business development for Integrated Security Technologies (IST), took on the task of managing the American University project, and he started off by making sure everyone was on the same page.
Ruddo focused on clear communication and acted as the liaison between all departments involved in the project at the university as the project unfolded, which helped address any issues right way.
“We laid out the engineering and design and then went over it with all the parties, so that everyone’s concerns were addressed and accommodated,” Ruddo described.
The first thing addressed was the emergency tower color, Ruddo shared.
“The university’s architect, facilities, public safety, and IT departments all had different ideas and concerns regarding the emergency phones, even down to the color. Everyone got together and we settled on a color called Purple Haze. That’s how IST works. We got everyone at the university involved so everyone could end up happy with the result.”
The project called for the installation of 25 new towers in place of aging and out-of-date units. Fifteen of those had to be integrated with new security cameras.
The existing units consisted of a telephone and a blue light attached to a thin, four-foot-high metal pole. Those units, along with their cabling infrastructure and small concrete ball bases, needed to be removed before the installation of the new, more durable towers.
IST then installed new cabling from the nearest buildings to accommodate the new emergency phones and surveillance cameras. Concrete bases were poured so that the towers could be installed. Security cameras and emergency phones were mounted and connected to the new cabling. Because the towers were connected to an existing switched AC power feed, Talk-A-Phone also supplied their backup power system with all the components mounting cleanly within the tower. This ensured that all electronics had power at all times.
Campus police wanted to make sure that they had updated security surveillance coverage across the campus. Ruddo helped with integration of the emergency phones and security cameras. Each emergency phone activation triggers nearby and built-in surveillance cameras to focus on the location of a caller.
In the digital age of cell phones it is not always obvious how emergency phones are beneficial to the campus community, but location information is one key benefit. Nichols explained, “The advantage that we have with these units over cell phones is that we don’t have to guess the location of the caller. We automatically know where they are and we can remain in contact with them while we’re on route.
“These units show that we are directly connected in a variety of means to the campus community, and by having these Talk-A-Phones in strategic locations around campus, the students and visitors can easily and readily identify the locations where they can summon police assistance,” he said.
Vivian Roussel, an American University sophomore, said, “As a student you know that there’s always something nearby as a safety tool if you run into a problem. As a girl it’s nice to know that if I press this button someone will be there for me.”
According to Nichols the new units are also used as “force multipliers” on American University’s campus, “The installation of these towers means that we don’t have to have police officers at those locations all the time, allowing them to engage in other patrol opportunities. This cuts down our costs and allows us to allocate officers to where they’re needed the most. The integration of security cameras with our emergency phones only enhances our response time and awareness across campus,” he said.
Nichols considers Talk-A-Phone a “large part” of the university’s upcoming master security plan. However, this project wouldn’t have been possible without a reliable partner such as IST that focused on communications from the very beginning of the project, creating a positive and active link between individuals and entire departments at American University. Everyone’s ideas and concerns were addressed and ultimately a new and advanced integrated security system was put in place.
Video Surveillance: Combining Panoramic, Day/Night Options BroadensCoverage for Non-Profit
Heifer International in Little Rock, Ark., works with communities globally to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth. Heifer provides gifts of livestock and training to help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. The non-profit organization refers to the animals as “living loans” because, in exchange for their livestock and training, each family agrees to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need. Heifer’s world headquarters facility in Little Rock blends art and eco-friendly innovation and serves as a testament to its purpose and desire to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth.
Heifer International was expanding its campus and needed a surveillance system in a new warehouse. When designing the system, it was impossible to ignore the flaws of the existing system. The previous analog system had been problematic and expensive to maintain as well as poorly designed and implemented. The customer sought a solution based on better technology to address surveillance needs both in the new construction and to upgrade the existing system. Four weeks of additional consulting and design were invested to ensure the new system would be effective.
When choosing IP-based cameras, the end-user and integrator decided on Arecont Vision to provide megapixel cameras for the new surveillance system.
“Analog solutions are not in our arsenal,” said Zachary Wirges, president, Genesis Datacom LLC, the integrator. “In today’s world, IT professionals are making the decisions for security in their environments. We want to make sure we provide a solution that is IT-friendly, and rich with features that make sense to IT staffers.”
Genesis Datacom is a new player in the structured cabling arena, but the company’s staff members average 15 years of experience as reflected in their certifications and portfolios. The company emphasizes stellar service to clients — no shortcuts allowed — and seeks to be the premier integrator of structured cabling systems and IP technology in the state of Arkansas. The company says its focus does not stop at the “jack,” but extends to providing solid, applicable IP solutions, including Arecont Vision megapixel cameras that are “edge devices” on the network.
The new system at Heifer International provides surveillance for three buildings, and cameras are monitored by a central guard station. The IP-based system also makes it possible for multiple departments to monitor their areas, according to Tom Spinnato, facilities/IT specialist, Heifer International.
“Arecont Vision provided the most robust features, and the panoramic options are beyond impressive,” Wirges said. “The customer easily perceived the quality of the product, which allowed performance and versatility to be the focus of the design rather than price.” Wirges and Neil Jones designed the video system and performed the installation.
At Heifer International, three Arecont Vision AV8185DN SurroundVideo® Day/Night 8-megapixel H.264 cameras are now being used. The cameras are designed for applications where mechanical pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) devices might otherwise be used or where multiple cameras would be needed to view expansive areas.
Arecont Vision Model AV8185DN is an 8 megapixel, 180-degree panoramic H.264 IP camera that incorporates four 2 megapixel CMOS image sensors that can be switched between day and night manually or automatically to provide 6400 x 1200-pixel panoramic images at 5.5 frames-per-second (fps). The panoramic view can also be set at lower resolutions to provide faster frame rates. The 180-degree panoramic camera can substitute for up to 24 analog cameras. Features include image cropping and up to four regions of interest.
In addition, Heifer International uses an Arecont Vision AV365DN camera, which is a SurroundVideo® Day/Night 8-megapixel H.264 camera providing 360-degree panoramic views, the Arecont Vision AV2825IR camera, a full-HD mode, 1080p H.264 MegaView IP camera that includes an IR illuminator, and two Arecont Vision AV3155DN cameras, each a 3-megapixel H.264 network (IP) MegaDome integrated camera, lens and IP66-rated dome. The AV3155DN cameras employ H.264 (MPEG 4, Part 10) compression to minimize bandwidth and storage requirements while maintaining real-time image resolution.
Finally, four Arecont Vision AV1355 H.264 MegaDome® IP cameras provide 1.3 megapixel (1280 x 1024-pixel) images at 32 frames per second in an integrated all-in-one camera, lens and dome. The cameras have features similar to the other models.
The cameras all use power-over-Ethernet (PoE), and there are fiber connections between network switches. Two Gateway GW-500 systems by Next Level Security Systems provide analytics and network video recording.
The increased image quality of megapixel video played the largest role in solving surveillance system issues at Heifer International. Expanded coverage areas and day/night options of Arecont Vision cameras also contribute to a successful and effective new system.
Image detail at the forensic level gave Heifer International the confidence in its surveillance system it previously lacked.
“The system can clearly deliver faces, license plates, vehicle details, physical details and even capture video in low light,” Wirges said.
Wirges said the picture quality and digital zoom capabilities of Arecont Vision cameras far exceeded the previous analog technology and allow Heifer International to retrieve usable video. Combined with recent cost reductions in NVR storage and network switches, the use of fewer cameras allowed Heifer to transition to high-quality video at a minimum cost.
In addition to lower bandwidth and storage requirements, the megapixel cameras also helped decrease costs related to other elements of the system, such as fewer software licenses, fewer lenses, and a decrease in man-hours needed to install the system.
As all eyes turned to London for the Olympics this summer, Bosch Security Systems continued helping to ensure London stayed safe and sound even as hundreds of thousands of additional people visited the city. Its security and communication systems watched over key travel networks and provided information to passengers.
On Eurostar services that run through to St. Pancras International station in London, Bosch cameras provide uninterrupted surveillance footage from inside the tunnel, ensuring the safe passage of 26,000 people and 50,000 tons of freight every day.
In London itself, Bosch technology can be found across the transport network. Many of the London Underground stations have Bosch surveillance cameras, which provide high definition imagery and give peace of mind to London tube travelers. For example, Woolwich Arsenal Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station uses Bosch’s public address and emergency warning system.
“The cameras provided by Bosch in the Channel Tunnel and the public address system at Woolwich Arsenal DLR station are just two examples of the Bosch technology that is helping to keep London safe and secure this summer,” said Peter Fouquet, president of Bosch UK. “Bosch has operated in the UK since 1907 and is an established presence within the London and wider national transport networks, providing safety and security systems that protect both people and the infrastructure itself.”
The Transportation Department of the Stanwood-Camano School District in northwestern Washington State transports 2,700 K-12 students to and from eight schools each day. The sheer volume of the student body requires a large bus fleet for the daily schedule, and protection against theft and vandalism is pertinent to keep everything running on time.
The school district has introduced mobile surveillance into its fixed security system to enable quicker evaluation of potential security incidents, using the MobileCamViewer mobile surveillance application from mobiDEOS to help keep transportation routines intact.
Lee Heinrichs, director of transportation for Stanwood-Camano School District, was looking for an application to expedite the process of incident response. Heinrichs downloaded MobileCamViewer to his iPad, immediately slicing two minutes off the security system login process — a potential difference-maker in critical situations. Today most calls coming from the district’s security company alert Heinrichs of general intrusions or alarms set off by staff — but the peace of mind that comes with an expansive security system incorporating fixed and mobile surveillance is priceless, Heinrichs said.
SightLogix thermal video analytics systems were chosen by the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) to protect five large North Hudson River bridges: Bear Mountain Bridge, Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, Mid-Hudson Bridge, Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge and the Rip Van Winkle Bridge which together serve more than 1 million Hudson River crossings each week.
“Threats to infrastructure in our country continue to this day,” said NYSBA Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero. ”It is our obligation to protect these critical bridges and to do so in a comprehensive and cost-effective manner. These video analytic systems will play an important role in accomplishing that vital task.”
The SightLogix perimeter security systems will be integrated by Transdyn, a leading systems integrator for intelligent transportation and security/surveillance systems.
Milestone’s XProtect® open platform IP video management software (VMS) was implemented in more than 30 government judicial buildings in Costa Rica. With an increase in reported violent crimes prosecution of more offenders has resulted in an increase of threats directed toward judicial employees working in 31 government offices around the country, which had previously been left vulnerable with out-of-date analog surveillance systems.
Milestone XProtect® Enterprise VMS was implemented for a full-scale surveillance improvement throughout the nation’s government buildings. The software operates through the organization’s wide area network to the monitoring centers, where administration and supervisors are located.
For the new system, two types of IP network cameras were installed: the SNC-RS86N pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) day/night outdoor rapid dome camera with 36x zoom capability and H.264 data compression, and the SNC-DH180 network 720p HD vandal-resistant, fixed mini-dome camera with view-DR technology and IR illuminator — both manufactured by Sony.