Swapping the Cards from Analog to IP
By Mariko Higashiyama The daily operations of a casino require tight security and a reliable surveillance system. The "eye in the sky" never sleeps, monitoring risks such as cheating, fraud and theft on the premises. Having a reliable security and surveillance system is crucial for the daily operations of a casino, and many cases have been solved with recorded video. While analog systems have worked well in the past, advancements in IP have made networking a viable option for casino surveillance. Recently, a group of scammers partnered with a casino's dealer, threatening to walk away with thousands of dollars. Video analytics and a megapixel camera helped lead to their arrests.
Despite proof that IP is indeed valuable, decision makers are still hesitant about migrating. The upfront costs of an overhaul into the future with a fully integrated IP system remains an obstacle to wider uptake. Casino security and surveillance keep tabs on cash, people and property.
As soon as one steps into a casino, every movement is recorded. Surveillance cameras dot the ceiling like stars every square inch of a casino floor is covered by one or more cameras. They work 24/7, sending a constant image feed back to the central control room for review. Casinos are facilities where large sums of money are exchanged and kept, which call for advanced surveillance and security systems to combat numerous risks, as well as keep patrons and employees safe.
Casinos built in the past have relied on an extensive wired network of analog cameras, operated by security personnel who would manually zoom in on suspicious areas. They would then keep a close eye on the area for any irregularities before confirming it was safe or if security personnel should be called to the scene. However, this method can prove to be time-consuming and tedious, since it is impossible for a handful of security personnel to keep tabs on more than 1,000 image feeds simultaneously.
Analog Systems in Need of an UpgradeFull analog systems form the majority of security systems in casinos today. "Sixty to 70 percent of the casinos in Nevada still rely on analog systems," said Tommy Burns, CEO of Burns & Associates. However, I P h a s abundant advantages over analog. "Analog is no longer wanted because storage is always an issue. More can be done with digital storage capabilities when using the right compression format."
This is significant because gaming regulations determine the amount of time video footage is kept. "Casinos are required to store video surveillance recordings for a defined period of time from one week to 30 days, depending on their location and state laws. As a result, many casinos must store thousands of video cassette tapes with recorded video," said Ian Crosby, CCTV Product Marketing Manager, Bosch Security Systems.
It also expends unnecessary money and manpower. " Casinoscould have 500 to 1,000 VCRs recording camera video. Each VCR requires a tape change every eight hours, and tapes have to be rewound and stored for seven days. On a typical eight hour shift, an operator would spend 60 to 90 minutes purely dealing with the tape changes," said Oliver Vellacott, CEO of IndigoVision.
Gaming is the only market which still heavily relies on analog. "Airports, schools and other large installations which require constant surveillance have all migrated to IP. This is because IP products yield better performance, are easier to service and have lately become more available, whereas analog digital equipment is starting to become harder to find," said Bill Miller, CEO of Reliable Security. "Analog digital hybrid systems end up with obsolete equipment, such as the matrix switch and analog input DVRs. IP systems have the type of advanced capabilities many users cannot find in an analog digital hybrid."
Making the SwitchCasino operators understand the benefits of megapixel and HD cameras. "Opportunities for analog video systems in this important market are disappearing fast. IP is seeing a lot of growth, and it can be attributed to an increase in the number of casinos and casino security professionals who are unsatisfied with their existing SD cameras and are taking steps to upgrade them," said Paul Bodell, VP of Global Business Development, IQinVision. "Prior to 2005, this wasn't an option since the low-light and frame rate performance of megapixel and HD cameras was not adequate. However, the best megapixel and HD cameras now offer full 30 fps with image quality that is better than analog cameras, and these cameras have the low-light performance capabilities that meet casino requirements."
A casino's defense against risks cannot be lowered during upgrades and overhauls. "Video surveillance is the heart of the security system in a casino. No casino table is allowed to operate without the corresponding surveillance system running," said Roger Tsang, District Manager for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, ADT Security.