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American water authority boosts productivity and secures assets with Dedicated Micros CCTV solution

Published on 15 February, 2008

Cove Dam, one of many sites operated by the Western Virginia Water Authority and now monitored with Dedicated Micros NetVu camerasThe US-based Western Virginia Water Authority, which provides a water service to 155,000 customers in Roanoke and Roanoke County, has adopted a NetVu Connected CCTV solution based around Dedicated Micros surveillance technology.

Since 9/11, water authorities across the US have been duty-bound to re-examine whether their critical assets, such as dams, reservoirs, and water treatment facilities, are secure against threats.

The Western Virginia Water Authority - which oversees assets including four reservoirs and water treatment plants, two waste water treatment plants, 30-40 water storage tanks, and 20-30 wells and pump stations - was looking for a digital CCTV solution that would support their existing analogue cameras, but also utilise new technologies such as Internet Protocol (IP) connectivity and high-quality digital recording.

United Security & Control Systems, Inc., a leading dealer and installer in Virginia, was selected for its solution, which centred on the Digital Sprite 2 (DS2) Digital Video Recorder (DVR) from Dedicated Micros.  Manufacturer representative firm, Southeast Security provided the six Dedicated Micros DS2 units and vital technical support during the installation process.

The Dedicated Micros NetVu Connected architecture has given the Authority a flexible, scalable platform for integrating all of its cameras, recording devices, and monitors. In some locations such as the headquarters, cameras and monitors were connected directly to the DVRs using coaxial cable.

In more remote locations, the DV-IP Codec and DV-IP Encoders were used to encode data from analogue cameras for transmission through the network and recording on remotely located DS2 DVRs.

Today, the DS2 units provide the Authority with flexible, digital, control over video surveillance.  A standard Ethernet connection allows live and recorded viewing on a networked PC using Dedicated Micros' NetVu ObserVer software or via web pages using a standard Internet browser.

"From my office computer, NetVu ObserVer lets me simultaneously monitor 36 cameras, which is nearly every camera we have installed," says Scott Agner, Special Projects Manager, Western Virginia Water Authority.West Virginia Water Authority headquarters

"All of our division directors also are authorised to view live camera feeds or recordings anytime they want from any computer attached to the network.  We can even log onto the network and observe from home using secure VPN lines.

"The interface of NetVu ObserVer is familiar and intuitive," Agner continues.  "This makes it easy to pick out exactly which camera or angle you want to see. It's also easy to set up a ‘tour' that mimics the actions of a sentry by looking at a particular area for a specific period of time and then moving onto another location."

MultiMode Recording is another important product feature because it gives the Authority the ability to set different record rates, resolutions, and compression algorithms for individual cameras.  For example, some indoor cameras are set up to record at a higher resolution and 24-fps rate when there is motion detected and then conserve storage when there is no activity in the area.  Other cameras, such as the ones located on top of the dam or reservoir, continuously record at 1 to 5-fps.  The recording profile for each camera can be customised with the system.

The Dedicated Micros solution has delivered several benefits to the water authority.  For workers, the surveillance system provides an extra level of protection.  One worker can, for example, remotely monitor the activities of another worker who is taking inventory in the dangerous chlorine storage room of a water treatment plant.  During periods of severe weather, the system also helps keep workers out of risky situations by allowing them get a remote view of an asset, such as the crest of a dam, rather than checking it physically.

Security at the Authority's headquarters building in downtown Roanoke is just as important as at the remote water production assets.  Employees in the collections office, where customers can pay their bills in person, now feel more secure knowing that the surveillance system is there - both as a deterrent to theft and a means of recording customer behaviour when there are disagreements.

Looking ahead, the project has been such a success that the Authority currently has plans to install an additional DS2 DVR at an equipment maintenance depot.

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