The Norwegian University of Science and Technology had suffered serious material loss due to theft, burglary and vandalism, leaving personnel and students feeling unsafe as a result. An extensive computer theft justified installing a new video surveillance solution. However, creating such a solution was challenging, as the university area consists of nearly one hundred buildings.
The open platform Mirasys V series, featuring local data acquisition, analysis and recording, combined with effective central management and remote monitoring tools, was installed. The system includes Mirasys RMC, a solution for centralized monitoring and control of several remote surveillance sites.
The investment has paid back as thefts, loss and vandalism have almost ceased. The clear and detailed mages provided by the Mirasys solution have enabled the University to identify culprits and recover compensation. The university, its property and personnel are now protected, and NTNU has an easy-to-manage security solution with effortless system upgrades for a future-proof investment.
Thousands of people have round-the-clock access to the nearly one hundred different buildings on the university campus. Frequent thefts and vandalism had long been a problem for the NTNU, and apart from significant material loss, it also left the students and staff feeling uncomfortable, discouraged, and insecure.
The security system at the time, consisting of a few scattered analogue cameras and VCR recording in the most important buildings, was simply not enough to protect the university and its property; and poor picture quality and a non-integrated security system provided little help in identifying the perpetrators afterwards.
When all of the newly installed computers vanished from a classroom without a trace, Marit Moe, NTNU's Security Manager, had had enough: "I immediately decided to take swift measures to improve the security of the university and its staff and to protect public property. To get as many offers as possible, I decided to arrange a public tender."
Digital recording to the rescue
NTNU wanted a surveillance solution that could be operated both locally and remotely as the university buildings are scattered over a large area. Moe explains: "Digital recording eliminates all the problems caused by poor picture quality, and so it was an obvious choice for us at NTNU. Digital recording also frees resources, because no one needs to change cassettes or clean video heads." Mirasys solutions provide the user with highly efficient operations of video, audio and alarm management, as well as analysis. The solutions are scalable and flexible and include powerful features such as advanced motion detection, secure multi-disk recording, and one-click media clip export to CD/DVD or other media.
NTNU chose three security solutions for an evaluation period that lasted several weeks. Mirasys offered a hybrid solution where our existing analogue cameras can be used individually or together with new IP cameras; and was the only company that offered a Norwegian user interface. As a result, Mirasys won the public tender, the deciding factors being user friendliness, adaptability and scalability. The system can be easily updated and upgraded in a cost-efficient way. Mirasys security solutions are constructed so that a DVR system can be easily built up from four camera channels up to 50 camera channels simply by updating the licence.
A complex network solution
The project started in 2005. The first 10 DINA recorders with 16 camera channels were installed in the main building in December 2005. Since then two new recorders have been installed every month. The cameras are connected to Mirasys DVR servers, which record digital images on hard disks. The DVR servers are programmed to discover and analyse movement in the camera's field of vision and to generate an alarm at critical situations. The images and alarms from the different buildings are transferred to a surveillance centre where the images can be managed with Mirasys RMC software. This software can simultaneously handle thousands of cameras, and keeps a central database of alarms. Up to 10 people can supervise the buildings simultaneously and take appropriate action when necessary. Once the project is accomplished, the number will increase to 100 recorders that are connected to thousands of cameras. NTNU has six RMC stations that are being continuously supervised by security guards. The master RMC station includes eight monitors that cover the whole university area. During spring 2007, all the DINA recorders at NTNU were upgraded to Mirasys V series, which is constructed to support IP cameras and tomorrow's technology. With the V series, data security will be further improved, as users can be assigned different levels of access and different usage rights. The V series also has its own file system, which does not cause fragmentation of data, helping to prevent hard disk failures, which are common in other digital video recording systems.
"Financially the investment has already paid itself back, as theft, burglary, and vandalism have diminished dramatically after the installation," explains a happy Moe and continues: "We could immediately see results. The buildings where Mirasys solutions have been installed have had close to zero thefts. For example, not a single computer has gone missing from the IT classrooms since the surveillance started. Before the cameras were set up, goods worth more than 535 000 NOK were stolen during a period of two months.
"The new surveillance solution as well as our close collaboration with the Trondheim police has increased the safety of the students and staff on the university premises, especially for those who stay at the premises after normal working hours," Moe explains. "If something happens, we transfer images to the police immediately. Mirasys solutions enable us to send sharp and detailed images of, for example, burglaries and vandalism, and the police have been very pleased with the images. Being able to present clear images of the culprits have facilitated the process of getting compensation," says a satisfied Moe.
"Mirasys systems are really easy to monitor and use," says Moe and continues: "Before I could sit for hours and hours looking for images from blurred VCR recordings. Nowadays, with Mirasys search tools I find what I am looking for within minutes, and the images are clear and sharp." The search tools include date and time, event, movement and activity from up to eight channels simultaneously. Moe goes on to explain: "The Mirasys watchdog reacts immediately if something unexpected happens; for example, if there are changes in the input signals from external devices such as a detector or a card reader." Moe smiles and concludes: "The Mirasys surveillance system has been phenomenal for us. The system is stable, the service and support reliable and the update of both hardware and software has been smooth. The university and its property are protected and both the students and staff feel safe. It is quite a system!"