IP video recording systems offer high-resimaging, speed & analytics to its end users Familiarity with analogue systems Familiarity is one factor in the slow conversion of casino customers to IP technologies. Many end users and integrators are comfortable with and have long-term experience with the more simplistic analogue systems. However, as IP systems continue to become easier to install and maintain with more plug-and-play technology, this dynamic should change. A problem of latency when controlling pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) functions of IP systems also suffered by comparison to responsive analogue technology, but the problem has been solved. The conversion from analogue to IP has been slower than expected, but the trend is beginning to accelerate, says Larry Wanvig, senior national account manager – gaming, Tyco Security Products. Most casinos recognise the benefits that IP can offer in terms of resolution, speed, control and integrations, he adds. As such, casinos often turn to a hybrid approach and try to slowly phase in newer IP video recording systems and cameras. It seems that smaller casinos migrate and adopt IP technology more quickly than the larger “corporate” casinos, which have been a bit slower to make those types of investments, Wanvig says. However, IP conversion is largely decided by budgetary factors. One of Tyco’s casino customers has been a long-time Intellex DVR user and is now deploying the Victor Unified Client and preparing for migration to IP while continuing to use their existing digital video recorders (DVRs). Victor Unified Client allows the casino and others to migrate as budgets permit by providing a single user interface not only for the newer network video recorder (NVR) technology, but also for the older DVR technology. This maximises the casino’s investment and makes the transition to IP easier. Improved resolution & control renews IP interest High video resolution, a unified interface that leverages video and access control, and reductions in PTZ camera control latency have all impacted casinos’ acceptance of IP significantly, says Wanvig. With increased resolution come improvements in live and recorded video as well as playback quality, which deliver more detail for investigation and incident confirmation. Most casinos recognise the benefitsthat IP can offer in terms of resolution,speed, control and integrations. Casinosoften turn to a hybrid approach and tryto slowly phase in newer IP videorecording systems and cameras The significantly reduced latency of Tyco’s Illustra IP PTZ dome – it can move to position in as fast as 512 degrees per second – has really accelerated the acceptance of IP within gaming. Compared to the responsiveness of traditional analogue PTZ technology, some of the earlier IP PTZ cameras experienced significant lag time between the real-time movement of the object and when the image was displayed, making tracking an object difficult. The responsiveness of the new PTZ dome far surpasses that of these older IP PTZ cameras. Tyco Security Products has been providing market-specific products and support to the casino surveillance market for more than 30 years. Historically, Tyco has provided analogue matrix systems to help casino operators easily manage multiple viewing monitors from a single keyboard and Intellex DVRs to help casinos migrate to digital video recording. Today, as casinos upgrade their analogue cameras and recording equipment and move to IP cameras, NVRs and virtual matrix systems, Tyco’s Victor Unified Client provides seamless control of both analogue and IP environments from a single user interface. Tyco’s low-latency cameras give this casino real-time tracking and monitoring, high-resolution imaging, and low bandwidth usage, which cut costs. Powerful NVRs allow the casino to use multiple video streams for live and recorded video and to access it quickly. The unified client leverages real-time alarms and events with video surveillance to give the casino a comprehensive view of their facilities. Any casino that values high-resolution imaging, speed, advanced analytics and complete view of its security could benefit from a similar deployment.
With the power of new technology and analytics, security systems could be used in other ways as well Security and surveillance systems are valuable beyond strictly providing compliance in the casino market. Even beyond ensuring physical security on premises outside the casino floor, systems are providing additional benefits including customer service, marketing and profitability, says Maureen Bruen, vertical market specialist – gaming, Honeywell Security Products Americas. Traditionally, access control, employee badging and visitor management have been a lower priority in casinos; however, they are essential to providing a total security solution, she adds. Combining departments for better business outcomes While surveillance of the casino floor is generally a separate department from physical security, with appropriate equipment selection and software partitioning, requirements of both departments can be met without compromise, says Bruen. Beyond simple loss prevention, combining people counting and point-of-sale provides invaluable information to marketing and finance, adds Bruen. By understanding the number of customers within any specific area of a casino combined with slot and point-of-sale data, these departments can better understand customer-to-cash conversion ratios. The level of success of any promotional activity can be easily measured. "While surveillance of the casino floor is generally a separate department from physical security, with appropriate equipment selection and software partitioning, requirements of both departments can be met without compromise" Bruen says point-of-sale (POS) is often overlooked in casino surveillance. Statistics show that internal theft is on the rise. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 75 percent of employees have stolen from their employers. Of those, nearly half will steal again from the same employer. An estimated 50 billion dollars is lost annually from U.S. businesses due to employee theft. Honeywell’s IDM (integrated data manager) for loss prevention Honeywell’s IDM (integrated data manager) can cut losses with the help of surveillance, loss prevention and food and beverage departments. IDM is a cost-effective solution that increases bottom-line profits through proactive loss prevention. IDM mines large amounts of data quickly and provides powerful customised reports with graphical results and instant video. Integrating video surveillance with data from point-of-sale, slot machines, cash counters, and ATM machines protects the casino’s bars, restaurants and retail interests against employee misconduct and internal loss. Physical security systems are often used to thwart the “bad guy” in the form of a breach, theft, or unwanted act. But with the power of new technology and analytics, these systems could be used in other ways as well, agrees Larry Wanvig, senior national account manager – gaming, Tyco Security Products. "Integrating video surveillance with data from point-of-sale, slot machines, cash counters, and ATM machines protects the casino’s bars, restaurants and retail interests against employee misconduct and internal loss" An example might be a system’s ability to notify management and hospitality teams when a VIP arrives so that they can ensure the VIP is taken care of appropriately. The notification could be based on an analytic rule or might also be accomplished by the unification of multiple systems, such as the surveillance and the loyalty/rewards program systems together, or the integration of surveillance and license plate recognition to notify staff as the guest arrives in the parking garage. Video and access control merger carries outstanding benefits The technology choices made by casino surveillance and security departments are typically made with compatibility in mind, as each department needs the capacity to share video and other information when needed, says Laurie Smock, vice president of sales, North American Video. For example, business operations often benefit from integrating a property’s point of sale system with the surveillance system to assist with reducing shrinkage. Access control is another vital security system element that is often integrated with surveillance, Smock says. When done properly, it provides a wealth of data that can be shared among multiple departments within the casino. NAV works with clients’ surveillance management to identify the video security technologies that will provide them with the functionality, scalability, and sustainability they meet. Once the technology has been identified, NAV’s design services configure the system layout for each individual property to ensure proper implementation and coverage. “We bring the same level of focus and individualisation to each casino we work with,” says Smock. “When the system design is complete, the NAV operations team installs and commissions the system. Once the system is up and running, NAV provides the customer with regular maintenance visits as well as any emergency on-site technical support that is needed.” "One consideration that is often overlooked is how the system performs and behaves, and how user-friendly it is on a day-to-day basis. It’s important that a solution can be flexibly and freely used for both monitoring and investigations, with easy-to-use playback operations, rewind, pause and so on of 24/7 recordings" Struggling with separation Based on DVTEL’s experience, the separation between the casino surveillance and security departments leads to separate decision-making, driven by different budgets and requirements. As a result, these can be seen as two separate sites/projects, says Ron Grinfeld, director, global vertical marketing, DVTEL. One consideration that is often overlooked is how the system performs and behaves, and how user-friendly it is on a day-to-day basis, says Grinfeld. It’s important that a solution can be flexibly and freely used for both monitoring and investigations, with easy-to-use playback operations, rewind, pause and so on of 24/7 recordings. For visibility into the entire casino, it’s also important that the system can easily display multiple tiles simultaneously. Furthermore, a customer should consider whether the solution has a single point of failure, how fast it recovers from breakdown and what would be the damage or loss of recorded video. DVTEL’s Latitude NVMS DVTEL’s enterprise-grade Latitude NVMS is a common choice for casino customers as it allows them to manage and monitor hundreds of cameras across the casino floor. Features such as failover and redundancy enable optimised viewing and help casinos avoid system downtime under any circumstances. Advanced add-on tools for the DVTEL system, such as camera stitching technology, maps, and POS, access control and other third-party integrations, are a common choice for the daily operations of casino customers.
In casino surveillance, there must be an understanding of the behaviour of thieves and cheats. In particular, casinos must understand how the behaviour of a casino adversary differs from that of a legitimate guest. The end result of the understanding is that only threatening or fraudulent behaviour is challenged, leaving other guests free to simply enjoy their visits to the casino. Responding to behaviour anomalies requires understanding that comes from analytics capabilities emerging on the casino scene. Behaviour monitoring and analysis Technology provider Oncam, for example, can monitor for card counters who exhibit specific behaviour patterns. Once alerted to those variances and nuances, Oncam’s cameras can probe further to track, interrogate and verify, which means delving into previous behaviour in earlier video frames to confirm or challenge the findings of the cameras using analytics. From an analytics perspective, facial recognition capabilities are being watched very closely by the casino surveillance market, says Laurie Smock, vice president of sales, North American Video (NAV). As analytic algorithms and analytic delivery technologies improve, casino surveillance systems will be able to implement systems such as facial recognition to identify subjects and cross reference them with a consolidated database that can be shared by multiple properties. This will dramatically improve efficiencies across multiple organisations, says Smock. Barriers in analytics adoption The adoption of analytics has been limited by the current state of the technology, says Smock. Current analytics technology limits its deployment on a broad scale in any application. As a result, those casino operators who do choose to deploy analytics are doing so on a smaller scale in order to utilise the technology properly. As analytics technology advances, and large-scale deployment become feasible, the adoption rate among gaming properties will increase significantly, she predicts. "As analytic technology continues to improve and more market-specific rules are launched, operators are becoming more efficient with their investigations" says Larry Wanvig of Tyco Security Products Analytics for crime analysis “One of the biggest technology changes I see gaining ground is the adoption of analytics within the casino surveillance operation,” says Larry Wanvig, senior national account manager – gaming, Tyco Security Products. “As analytic technology continues to improve and more market-specific rules are launched, operators are becoming more efficient with their investigations. This will obviously be of great benefit to casino operations, as they are better able to understand trends and patterns in events and their business operations.” Analytics have the ability to bridge the gap [between casino surveillance and the physical security department] by allowing business groups to take full advantage of the video analysis, says Wanvig. For example, analytics can help casinos understand the foot traffic patterns within their retail stores to better position displays, to validate credentialed employees in the facility’s private areas, and to better manage lines at the hotel front desk. The analytics offered by the surveillance system can be reviewed for specific trends and used to spot incidents of concern or to correct procedural problems. Challenges of big data analytics Another trend is Big Data analytics. As the amount of data that casinos gather each day increases exponentially, operators will need to rely on analytic technologies to help them make sense of all the noise, says Ron Grinfeld, director, global vertical marketing, DVTEL. Tools like video analytics, license-plate recognition, heat mapping and other applications will be increasingly useful for larger casino customers. Facial recognition also will change everything, from surveillance on the gaming floor for player identification, to customer check-in for VIP experience, Grinfeld says. More cameras will be put in places that haven’t been thought of before. Customers are also interested in video analytics for physical security needs (such as protecting the perimeter or securing the parking lot area), as well as business intelligences applications that use heat maps, movement patterns and other tools to analyse trends and behaviours, he says.
Video surveillance systems are extensively used in the casino market, but ironically casinos are more often than not behind the curve when it comes to installing newer security systems. Video technology adoption in the casino market has recently slowed down because of the economy. Analogue to IP migration The economic downturn slowed the analogue-to-IP transition process of video surveillance technology used in the gaming market, says Laurie Smock, vice president of sales, North American Video (NAV). As a result, casinos across all North American gaming jurisdictions, for example, have elected to transition slowly from analogue to IP – using IP video management systems (VMS) that enable them to leverage existing analogue cameras. This hybrid approach has become a common solution for existing properties. Conversely, newly constructed properties almost always choose to install all-IP systems. Smock says the migration to IP has accelerated recently as economic conditions have improved and the U.S. gaming market has seen business levels increase. New construction and technology-refresh activity have continued to accelerate in 2015. “When migrating from an older analogue system to a new IP platform, it’s important to plan a strategy that incorporates cost-effective updates when the budget allows,” says Smock of NAV. Here is a hybrid example: “For companies that are replacing their VMS and storage, but continuing to utilise their existing analogue cameras via encoders, we often recommend additional storage and a larger network that will accommodate HD IP cameras in the future,” Smock says. “This simplifies the transition from analogue to HD IP cameras; when an older analogue camera fails, it is simply replaced with an IP HD camera with no additional storage and minimal infrastructure changes needed.” Security systems integration "When migrating from an older analogue system to a new IP platform, it’s important to plan a strategy that incorporates cost-effective updates when the budget allows ", says Laurie Smock, VP of Sales, NAV North American Video is a leading systems integrator serving the gaming market. Its primary focus is on designing, selling, installing and servicing enterprise-class video surveillance and management systems that are tailored for casino applications. System designs include the integration and installation of access control, point-of-sale (POS), building control and alarm systems in order to provide a complete security and surveillance solution for NAV customers. North American Video works with many of the leading corporate and tribal gaming entities that operate multiple casinos across the United States. Clients take advantage of NAV’s full range of integration services, from delivery of a single camera all the way up to the design, build, service and installation of systems with thousands of cameras, integrated access control and other technologies. Impact of budget Other companies active in the casino surveillance market also point to the economy as a factor in slower technology adoption. Lack of budget still seems to be one of the biggest factors impeding more rapid adoption of new technologies, says Larry Wanvig, senior national account manager – gaming, Tyco Security Products. Generally, IP technology is more expensive than its analogue counterparts, although the technology often pays for itself with the efficiency offered by IP, Wanvig notes. Another security solutions manufacturer, Honeywell, sees an impact of budget on determining the speed of migration to HD IP video. “Most of our customers migrate to HD IP video in a phased approach, starting with high-priority shots such as table games, cage and cash, and choke points,” says Maureen Bruen, vertical market specialist – gaming, Honeywell Security Products Americas. Budget is the single greatest barrier, she adds, and leasing is one option to overcome it. Technology decisions are usually ROI-driven, adds Ron Grinfeld, director, global vertical marketing, DVTEL. Casino customers must see that an investment can provide return on investment (ROI) and add value, such as improved quality of service, greater business intelligence, global awareness applications, more efficient and secure transactions (through analytics and POS integrations), people counting, crowd management and so on, he says.