Safety and comfort of the highest standards
"We have an enlightened approach to our systems and security, using the most current technology. Pan Pacific Hotels Group is an organisation that embraces opportunities to be more effective by making better use of information. We aim to deliver information to our associates as quickly as possible to facilitate a higher quality of service to our customers," states Mark Fancourt, Vice President Information Technology at Pan Pacific Hotels Group. "Being a people-centric business, comfort and life safety issues are foremost for us. We have always had a high focus on security in terms of insuring a very robust life protection infrastructure - not just since the events of recent times - it is part of our brand."
These high security standards are evident at the Pan Pacific hotels: Mark Fancourt says that the level of surveillance in the design is quite extensive. "In Bangkok we have a property with 150 rooms and public areas such as a Lobby, Restaurants and Pool Deck. The property has 100 surveillance cameras installed in the building as an illustration of the importance we place on life and safety matters. Whether it's short or longstay business, we ensure our environment gives our customers the confidence that security is factored into their stay."
Hotels have a broad scope to keep track of and monitor, being multiple access locations with significant public traffic at all times of day or night. Large function and event spaces add to this requirement. Fancourt describes the hotel environment as an open yet controlled environment from the management point of view, with security challenges similar to the busy milieu of shopping centres.
|The Milestone open platform approach enabled convergence of the system from analogue to IP|
Upgrade from analogue to IP with fast implementation
The flagship Singapore location on Raffles Boulevard has 785 rooms and is busy year round, with 600 employees tending to customers' every need. In October 2007, the IMF Conference was held in the SUNTEC Convention Center adjacent to Pan Pacific Singapore, where many of the delegates were housed. This event provided the impetus to upgrade the hotel's analogue video surveillance system to ensure that the very latest security tools would be available. Milestone Systems XProtect™ open platform IP video management software was chosen as the core of their solution, and since then is rolling out to other hotel locations (Pan Pacific Seattle, Pan Pacific Hotels Group corporate offices and Pan Pacific Serviced Suites, Bangkok).
An initial budget was estimated around USD 359,000 to meet the needs for the IMF Conference, and the technology upgrade migration plan at Pan Pacific Singapore with 250 cameras was scheduled for a two-month period to complete the project. Impressively, however, with the leaner setup infrastructure required for the IP system, implementing was much faster and very efficient.
"One of the advantages with open IP technology is that you don't need such a large physical space for your security operations, as you do with purpose-built, proprietary analogue installations. It's a lot more modular today thanks to the independent network software approach," explains Mark Fancourt.
There are many opportunities with the software and integration, both through the cameras that provide greater innovation such as analytics at the edge, and other connected systems like access control, parking systems or guest registration software.
"The motion-sensitive recording in Milestone makes a significant difference for us in terms of storage capacity as we only record video when needed. Efficiency-wise it changed everything, improving the cost of our investment and the system performance," states Fancourt. "The software does what it needs to do when we need it to do it."
Leveraging the security investment optimally
The Milestone open platform approach enabled convergence of the system from analogue to IP: Pan Pacific leveraged their earlier security investment by keeping their analogue cameras and running them through video encoders that digitised the images to be managed by the Milestone software. Mark Fancourt explains that the analogue cameras have now been replaced by network video cameras from Axis Communications, and all new camera installations are IP models.
"The motion-sensitive recording in Milestone makes a significatn differene in terms of storage capacity"
The process for selecting analogue versus IP technology came with deep discussions from the Pan Pacific Singapore and the Pan Pacific Hotels Group team, and also included third-party security experts' feedback in the evaluation. The final decision was based on the following criteria:
- Ease of expansion: To be able to scale the system to more sites and with more or new cameras had to be easy so upgrading could be accomplished based on unit and group needs over time.
- Lower total cost of ownership: Cost efficiency comes from using standard IT hardware and network resources such as hard disks, PCs, switches, etc. Maintenance by the IT Department becomes a natural part of all data management, with the efficiencies of a flexible, central operation, yet with local capabilities.
Open Platform software-based solution that's future-proof
Milestone XProtect software was chosen because it provides an independent, true open platform architecture, which allows the Pan Pacific Hotels Group to select best-of-breed models and brands for every component in their IP surveillance eco-system.
"We wanted an independent, software-based solution that did not require specific hardware. This provides a flexible model to address the multiple functions of our business with scalability in the future. We needed the ability to place various types of cameras in various locations; have wireless access or even mobile clients. We chose the Milestone solution as part of the technology scope for the entire company network. The way we construct the hotels today lets us build the security into the overall network design, keeping the video stored and archived, accessible like any other data, available to those who need access. We no longer run coax cable around the buildings when we erect new hotels - it is much more cost effective and flexible with IP as a unified platform for our properties to operate on."
|Milestone XProtect Smart Clients provide the interface for security operators to live and recorded video|
"We also use the Milestone surveillance to monitor staff and hotel operational processes. This helps us ensure a smooth operation. We monitor access matters, staff as they are coming and going, vehicle movements, supply deliveries, etc." adds Mark Fancourt.
For Pan Pacific, aesthetics are also important. This is managed with the discreet camera models from Axis.
"The quality of analogue surveillance cannot compete with IP - so sharp and detailed. This has changed everything in terms of how well we are able to monitor and resolve issues. One of our PTZ cameras lets us see hundreds of metres from the corners of the buildings, out to the streets and surrounding areas, and pick up sharp detail. You could never do that with analogue CCTV. Our security operations love it," confirms Fancourt.
"It used to be all about the cameras - and Axis cameras are great - but we are no longer dependent on the camera setups any more, and there are many to choose from today. We have mixed-use properties that have retail, residential and hotel operations in some of our complexes where hotels are located. This model provides economy of scale across the whole project. The flexibility to put any camera on the network platform makes a difference to us going forward."
Milestone ease of use and fast response
The Milestone XProtect Smart Clients provide the interface for security operators to see both live and recorded video, for total overview of situations, the ability to respond quickly, and evidence to resolve incidences.
"Milestone provides an IT approach that allows my users to easily interface with the system - PCs are their daily working tools. Controlling Milestone from the comfort of the PC was a dream come true and the user friendliness of Milestone makes the whole process much simpler than expected," confirms Mr. Vinod, Director of Security at Pan Pacific Singapore.
|Milestone's IP cameras provide sharp and detailed images which analogue surveillance cannot offer|
Mark Fancourt concurs: "Milestone takes advantage of the computer tools of today and it is simple to use. With no training I was able to use it immediately - very intuitive. When there is an incident, the security team can access the video footage quickly with a non-stop flow of evidence from camera to camera. Sharing information with law enforcement bodies is also a simple process. In fact we are able to support third-party, real-time access to the surveillance, as we needed to for IMF in Singapore. The speed of availability is vastly different from analogue systems, and quickly provides the necessary information for faster response. There are also alerts that trigger proactive actions to prevent situations from escalating. The software is well thought out and designed, easy to configure, maintain and use. It really is a great piece of technology."
A long-term vision
Mark Fancourt explains that they have the Milestone Product Maintenance Agreement and get the most out of that investment by keeping current with the latest technology as new versions of the software become available. Future opportunities from the open platform IP technology are clearly in sight for Pan Pacific Hotels Group.
"We can take advantage of the software as it becomes smarter. Integrations with new advancements that come along will allow us to become even more effective, freeing up human resources that don't have to sit glued to a screen, getting alerts when needed. I foresee having a city-wide surveillance approach instead of in the separate businesses: a single point of central control with local and mobile access points. Emerging technologies in future are available to us with this solution. My aim is to recommend to our owners this long-term vision, through the software-based, hardware independent Milestone solution - it is the right one for us."