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Prestigious Roman music academy preserves national musical heritage with Milestone network video technology

The Challenge of protecting musical treasures

As the crown jewel of the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Rome, the Academy of Santa Cecilia is one of the oldest and most important musical institutions in the world. Its position and fame have steadily grown since it was founded in 1585. Today, it is internationally renowned, both as a venue for symphony orchestra concerts and as the custodian of a heritage of inestimable value, which makes it a landmark for academics and music lovers.

Unique and irreplaceable pieces are the rule in this heritage collection consisting of 120,000 volumes. These include 7,000 manuscripts, 3,000 librettos, 850 editions from before the 19th Century, concert programs and brochures, as well as 25,000 tapes, disks and videos, more than 20,000 photographs and 290 instruments, including the priceless Stradivarius violin known as "Il Toscano".

Shortly after 2000, when it became necessary to arrange the transfer of these treasures to the Parco della Musica Auditorium (the multi-functional complex designed by Renzo Piano), one of the first problems to be solved was to guarantee their security while at the same time making them accessible to the public in the new Book and Media Library, which opened to the public in 2003.

Book & Media Library of the Santa Cecilia academy
Angelo De Santis, Logistics Superintendent, with Gianmarco Acbano and Dario Porru of e-Jam
Among other things, the decision was made to install a video surveillance system which, based on the specifics of the project, was required to protect the entire premises of the academy, both the new ones at the Auditorium della Musica and those remaining at the original site in Via Vittoria. Moreover, the system needed to be scalable in order to adjust to new requirements over time.

During the critical period of transfer to the Auditorium, it had to guarantee the protection of exhibits as they were placed one by one on the shelves of the library, and of equipment in the new offices adjacent to the library. Lastly, the video surveillance system had to rely on the server farm set up at the Auditorium.

The IP solution: cost efficient use of IT infrastructure, future scalability

"When the Academy awarded us the project, we performed a feasibility study which showed that it would be appropriate, also in terms of the cost/benefit ratio, to implement a system that took advantage of the existing IT infrastructure of the Auditorium. In fact, although the projects dated back to the 1980s, the designers of the structure had already anticipated the possibility of installing IP video cameras by laying category 6 structured cabling at video camera height. We also proposed using the Power Over Ethernet protocol, which had not yet been ratified as a standard in 2002 but was already applicable, to supply the video cameras to use the same cable as those used for the data transfer, thereby achieving further savings in the implementation costs of the system," said Gianmarco Acbano of e-Jam, the system integrator who designed and implemented the video surveillance system.

In practice, the feasibility study revealed that new generation technologies could be used without requiring large investments to implement an efficient and effective system that, above all, looked to the future.

All images stream into a single control center, located in the Auditorium
Milestone software gives flexibility to the Academy

This approach succeeded in convincing the client because, as Angelo De Santis Logistics Superintendent of the Academy explained: "It allowed us to both use the existing arrangement of Ethernet cabling present in the new premises and to access an innovative technology without additional costs. An IP-based solution also guaranteed important advantages: the ability to gradually scale up the system as the new spaces and offices were occupied, and the ability to establish centralized management of video surveillance, even at the remote location connected to the principal site via VPN."

Once this approach was accepted, e-Jam began to identify the technologies to be used. The choice was in favor of Axis network video cameras and the XProtect Professional software platform from Milestone, which research proved to be the most complete open platform and the most used in the market due to its ability to manage different video camera models from a single server that can also be accessed remotely.

The most appreciated features of the Milestone software include the flexibility it gives the Academy in managing the system directly from the recording server - almost point to point with the utmost freedom. In fact, all of the video cameras installed (Axis 2110, Axis 2120, Axis 2420, Axis 211) are equipped with motion detection and work on a Milestone-customizable schedule that varies from camera to camera, and is activated at different times according to area-specific requirements.

All images stream into a single control centre, located in the Auditorium, where, in compliance with the applicable privacy regulations, they can be accessed only at the request of the judicial authority or are overwritten with a pre-determined frequency.

The Book and Media Library also contains a station where the images captured by the individual cameras can be viewed live. The system is also used by e-Jam during technical support and maintenance.

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