Since 1967, Southside Medical Center has been providing affordable healthcare and related services to the insured, underinsured, and uninsured in downtown Atlanta. As one of the oldest and largest community health centres in Georgia, Southside Medical Center has continued to advance healthcare in the area by becoming the first Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) of Excellence to offer additional services beyond primary care. “We are in a new era and are moving forward with plans to have the nation’s first Federally Qualified Health Center of Excellence,” explained David M. Williams, MD, CEO at Southside Medical Center. “Having state- of-the-art technology will help get us there in an efficient and reliable manner.”

In its quest to provide advanced patient care, Southside Medical Center has made security a top priority, deploying the Avigilon High Definition (HD) Surveillance System to ensure the safety of more than 30,000 patients, 30 physicians, and 240 employees.

High-performance surveillance systemWe can now rely on the clarity and performance of the Avigilon HD Surveillance System to capture the necessary detail"

Southside Medical Center faces many serious security challenges, including physical disputes among patients and theft. “We also have armed individuals who are not necessarily gang members entering our facility on a regular basis, providing another layer of risk and concern,” explains Barlon Lundgren, JD, CHPA, and director of corporate affairs at Southside Medical Center. “With a relatively small security team, we rely on the performance and image clarity of the Avigilon HD System for around-the-clock surveillance and investigations as incidents occur.”

With limited security personnel on site, Southside Medical Center needed a high-performance surveillance system to monitor the 46,230 square feet facility and three adjoining parking lots. The previous analogue-based system simply could not meet the medical centre’s needs. “The analogue system was grainy, monochrome, and couldn’t zoom to capture specific details when needed,” notes Lundgren. “With a high rate of break-ins, we can now rely on the clarity and performance of the Avigilon HD Surveillance System to capture the detail we need to identify, confirm, and ultimately, convict.”

Three of the Avigilon cameras were installed specifically to capture license plates"

Analogue to IP surveillance migration

Working with the security experts at Southeastern Security Professionals LLC, a provider of design, installation, and service of life safety and security systems in the Southeast Region, Southside Medical Center installed one Avigilon 16-megapixel camera in addition to several Avigilon 11 and 5-megapixel cameras on the exterior of the facility for perimeter monitoring. “Three of the Avigilon cameras were installed specifically to capture license plates,” explains Lundgren. To further boost the Avigilon HD Surveillance System, Southside Medical Center kept its existing 28 analogue cameras, which have been installed throughout the interior of the facility.

Nine Avigilon analogue video encoders were used to integrate the existing analogue cameras into the new Avigilon HD Surveillance System, creating a high-performance hybrid system that facilitates the migration from analogue to digital as budget allows. Southside Medical Center also installed three Avigilon HD network video recorders (NVRs) to store up to 14 days of continuous surveillance footage and plans to add a stand-alone storage system to boost storage capacity to 30 days for greater scalability.

Efficient face and license plate capture With the Avigilon HD Surveillance System in place, we can find what we are looking for twice as fast"

According to Lundgren, the primary goal of the Avigilon HD Surveillance System is to capture the detail required for evidence collection. “The bulk of our time is spent reviewing footage for investigative purposes,” says Lundgren. “With the Avigilon HD Surveillance System in place, we can find what we are looking for twice as fast as we could with our previous analogue-based system.” This feature was put to the test on the first day that the Avigilon HD Surveillance System was installed.

Four teenagers entered the premises in a stolen vehicle and stole a second car from the parking lot. “Leveraging the zooming capabilities of the Avigilon 11- and 5-megapixel cameras, we were able to capture facial details and license plate numbers that we immediately shared with the police.” Law enforcement officials have since retrieved the stolen vehicle and the perpetrators have been charged with theft.

Simplifying remote surveillance

Using Avigilon Control Center Network Video Management Software, the security team at Southside Medical Center can easily move back and forth between live and recorded footage for evidence collection. But according to Lundgren, ease-of-use was another key selling feature of the Avigilon HD Surveillance System. “Using Avigilon Control Center software, we can easily transfer footage onto DVDs, making it very easy to share evidence with law enforcement,” comments Lundgren. “And Avigilon Control Center allows us to download images along with the player, making it easy for local law enforcement officials to view footage, a key differentiator and top reason why we chose the Avigilon system.”

We can also add or import views, such as satellite images of the facility, for even greater coverage"Multiple screens enable users to seamlessly monitor several views at once, providing complete coverage for the entire facility. “We can also add or import views, such as satellite images of the facility, for even greater coverage,” notes Lundgren. Avigilon’s simple management tools have also made it easy for Lundgren to monitor and reduce the bandwidth required for remote surveillance.

Central monitoring

Scalability was another key requirement for Southside Medical Center, which plans to build a 60,000 square foot facility across from the main building to accommodate the new services it will soon offer as Georgia’s first FQHC of Excellence. “Within the next two years, the Avigilon HD Surveillance System will triple in size, so we needed to deploy a surveillance system that could easily expand to meet our future needs,” says Lundgren. “We also plan to gradually integrate our satellite clinics into the Avigilon HD Surveillance System so we can monitor activities at all our facilities from a central location.”

Just one Avigilon megapixel camera can deliver the same coverage of at least four analogue cameras"Seamless integration

According to Lundgren, the Avigilon HD Surveillance System was much simpler to install and integrate into the facility’s existing infrastructure than other surveillance solutions would have been. “By selecting the Avigilon HD Surveillance System, we required less additional equipment and we achieved far greater performance at the same cost,” notes Lundgren. “And because just one Avigilon megapixel camera can deliver the same coverage of at least four analogue cameras, we saved more time and money during installation.”

By deploying the Avigilon HD Surveillance System, Southside Medical Center was able to achieve even further cost savings by not having to invest in the additional equipment required for pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) functionality. “If we had deployed an analogue-based system, we would have had to invest in additional PTZ housings and motors to achieve greater coverage. With Avigilon, we get even better coverage with less hardware.”

Cost-effective surveillance solution

By monitoring the Avigilon HD Surveillance System live, Lundgren and his team can act on a tip, monitor a situation, and call in the police to stop a potential break-in or criminal act before it happens. “Not only does this help us avert a potential crisis, it also reduces the time and cost associated with police investigations,” says Lundgren.

The Avigilon HD Surveillance System is an excellent choice for any healthcare provider wanting to enhance patient and staff safety"Southside Medical Center has also saved HR-related costs by leveraging the Avigilon HD Surveillance System to monitor employee performance. “We can now confidently resolve ‘he said/she said’ conflicts between patients and staff,” explains Lundgren. Southside Medical Center also uses the surveillance footage to resolve complaints, performance improvement issues, internal theft, and confrontations between patients and on site. “We have planned and designed the system so that we can add audio monitoring in certain areas to further improve customer service if we choose,” adds Lundgren.

Enhanced healthcare security

As the chair of the Georgia chapter of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS), Barlon Lundgren plays an influential and far-reaching role in the state’s security industry. “I have hosted several healthcare providers to see the Avigilon HD Surveillance System in action and have also invited Avigilon to showcase the solution at a local IAHSS event,” concludes Lundgren. “With its exceptional image clarity, reliability, and scalability, the Avigilon HD Surveillance System is an excellent choice for any healthcare provider wanting to enhance patient and staff safety.”

Download PDF version

In case you missed it

What characteristics do salespeople require in the physical security industry?
What characteristics do salespeople require in the physical security industry?

A basic tenet of sales is ABC – always be closing. But it's a principle that most professional salespeople would say oversimplifies the process. Especially in a sophisticated, high-tech market such as physical security, the required sales skills are much more involved and nuanced. We asked this week's Expert Panel Roundtable: What unique characteristics are required of salespeople in the arena of physical security systems?

Can microchip implants replace plastic cards in modern access control?
Can microchip implants replace plastic cards in modern access control?

A futuristic alternative to plastic cards for access control and other applications is being considered by some corporate users in Sweden and the United Kingdom. The idea involves using a microchip device implanted into a user’s hand. About the size of a grain of rice and provided by Swedish company Biohax, the tiny device employs passive near field communication (NFC) to interface with a user’s digital environment. Access control is just one application for the device, which can be deployed in lieu of a smart card in numerous uses. Biohax says more than 4,000 individuals have implanted the device. Using the device for corporate employees Every user is given plenty of information to make an informed decision whether they want to use the deviceCurrently Biohax is having dialogue with curious corporate customers about using the device for their employees. “It’s a dialogue, not Big Brother planning to chip every employee they have,” says Jowan Österlund, CEO at Biohax. Every user is given plenty of information to make an informed decision whether they want to use the device. Data capture form to appear here! “Proof of concept” demonstrations have been conducted at several companies, including Tui, a travel company in Sweden that uses the device for access management, ID management, printing, gym access and self-checkout in the cafeteria. Biohax is also having dialogue with some big companies in the United Kingdom, including legal and financial firms. Österlund aims to have a full working system in place in the next year or so. A Swedish rail company accepts the implanted chip in lieu of a paper train ticket. They accept existing implants but are not offering to implant the chips. Österlund says his company currently has no plans to enter the U.S. market. The device is large enough to locate easily and extract if needed, and small enough to be unobtrusive Access control credential The device is inserted/injected below the skin between the index finger and the thumb. The circuitry has a 10-year lifespan. The device is large enough to locate easily and extract if needed, and small enough to be unobtrusive. The only risk is the possibility of infection, which is true anytime the skin is pierced, and the risk is mitigated by employing health professionals to inject the chip. Use of the device as an access control credential or any other function is offered as a voluntary option; any requirement by an employer to inject the device would be illegal, says Österlund. It’s a convenient choice that is made “based on a well-informed decision by the customer.” Aversion to needles, for example, would make some users squeamish to implant the device. More education of users helps to allay any concerns: Some 10% of employees typically would agree quickly to the system, but a larger group of 50% to 60% are likely to agree over time as they get more comfortable with the idea and understand the convenience, says Österlund. Protection of information The passive device does not actively send out any signals as you walk. It is only powered up by a reader if a user has access rightsIn terms of privacy concerns, information contained on the device is in physical form and is protected. The passive device does not actively send out any signals as you walk. There is no battery. It is only powered up by a reader if a user has access rights. With use of the device being discussed in the United Kingdom, there has been some backlash. For example, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has said: “Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers.” A big misconception is that the chip is a tracking device, says Österlund. It isn’t. “We love people to get informed,” says Österlund. “If they’re scared or apprehensive, they can just read up. It’s not used to control you – it’s used to give you control.”

Ethical consumption: should you buy security products ‘Made in China’?
Ethical consumption: should you buy security products ‘Made in China’?

Should ‘Made in China’ be seen as a negative in security systems and products? It’s an important and complex issue that merits a more detailed response than my recent comment in the Expert Panel Roundtable. For me, there are two sides of the answer to this question: Buying products that have certain negative attributes that are not in alignment with some part of a belief system or company mandate. Buying products that do not perform as advertised or do something that is unacceptable. For integrators and end users making the buying decisions, the drive to purchase products may not be based on either aspect and instead on the product that can do the best job for their business. But for others, a greater emphasis on the ethical implications of purchasing decisions drives decision-making. What is ethical consumption? Ethical consumption is a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of ‘positive buying’ in that ethical products are favouredEthical consumption — often called ethical consumerism — is a type of consumer activism that is based on the concept of ‘positive buying’ in that ethical products are favoured, and products that are ethically questionable may be met with a ‘moral boycott’. This can be as simple as only buying organic produce or as complex as boycotting products made in a totalitarian regime that doesn't offer its citizens the same freedoms that we enjoy in the United States. Consider the goals of the Boston Tea Party or the National Consumers League (NCL), which was formed to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. Some examples of considerations behind ethical consumption include fair trade, treatment of workers, genetic modification, locally made and processed goods, union-made products and services, humane animal treatment, and in general, labour issues and manufacturing practices that take these factors into account. Increase in ethical consumption The numbers show that ethical consumption is on the rise. In a 2017 study by Unilever, 33 percent of consumers reported choosing to buy and support brands that they believe are doing social or environmental good. In the same study, 53 percent of shoppers in the United Kingdom and 78 percent in the United States said they feel better when they buy products that are ‘sustainably’ produced. There’s clear evidence that products from some Chinese companies suffer from cybersecurity vulnerabilities Though the aforementioned question that sparked this conversation centres around concerns with products made in China, there are many other countries where, for example, governments/dictators are extremely repressive to all or parts of their populations, whose products, such as oil, diamonds, minerals, etc., we happily consume. There are also a number of countries that are a threat in terms of cybersecurity. It may be naive and simplistic to single out Chinese manufacturers. Impact on physical security products Product buying decisions based on factors other than product functionality, quality and price are also starting to permeate the security marketplace. While this hasn't been a large focus area from the business-to-business consumption side, it's something that should be considered for commercial security products for a variety of reasons. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating" There’s clear evidence that products from some Chinese companies suffer from cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Last fall, 30 U.S. companies, including Apple and Amazon, were potentially compromised when it was discovered that a tiny microchip in the motherboard of servers built in China that weren't a part of the original specification. According to a Bloomberg report, “This attack was something graver than the software-based incidents the world has grown accustomed to seeing. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating, promising the kind of long-term, stealth access that spy agencies are willing to invest millions of dollars and many years to get.” This, along with many other incidents, are changing the considerations behind purchasing decisions even in the physical security industry. Given that physical security products in general have been lax on cybersecurity, this is a welcome change. Combating tech-specific threats In early January, members of the U.S. Senate introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors and ensure U.S. technological supremacy by improving interagency coordination across the U.S. government. The bill creates the Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House, an indication that this issue is of critical importance to a number of players across the tech sector. Members of the U.S. Senate introduced bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors To address a significant number of concerns around ethical production, there are certifications such as ISO 26000 which provides guidance on social responsibility by addressing accountability, transparency, ethical behaviour, respect for stakeholder interests, respect for rule of law, respect for international norms of behaviour and respect for human rights. While still emerging within physical security, companies that adhere to these and other standards do exist in the marketplace. Not buying products vulnerable to cyberattacks It may be counter-productive, even irresponsible, to brand all products from an entire country as unfit for purchasing. Some manufacturers’ products may be ethically questionable, or more vulnerable to cyberattacks than others; so not buying products made by those companies would make sense. The physical security industry might be playing a bit of catch up on this front, but I think we're beginning to see a shift toward this kind of responsible buying behaviour.