On any given day, casinos may play host to hundreds of customers; thousands in some of the larger resort complexes. But with this welcome traffic can come a collection of undesirables ranging from cheats and advantage players to pickpockets and grifters, who can not only ruin the fun for good customers but cost casinos to lose millions of dollars in revenues.
Screening out these bad elements can be a daunting task. Fortunately casinos now have at their disposal an ever improving arsenal of security and surveillance equipment that can not only spot undesirables as they enter, but also record evidence needed to convict and put them out of circulation.
During the past decade, security equipment has gone from analog to digital, which provides sharper images to better identify miscreants so they can be intercepted before they can do harm. And the addition of digital video recorders enables not only the storage of more images over longer periods, but also enable personnel to quickly find the images that either catch criminals in the act or detect cheating on the gaming floor.
The most commonly used products in casino security are high resolution pan-tilt-zoom cameras, monitors and CCTV keyboards. Analog cameras are digitized and recorded on RAID 5 disk arrays. Digitizing is done either by digital video recorders (DVRs) or by encoders. Casinos have also recently started to look at the adoption of high definition cameras for certain applications.
They also are replacing VCR-based recording technology with digital recording, which consists of traditional DVRs and IP recorders.
Security and surveillance suppliers are constantly tinkering with all these products, adding technologies to make the devices more efficient, cost effective and easier to use. Here’s a rundown of the latest technological advancement from some of the gaming industry’s better known security equipment companies.
FAILSAFEBosch Security Systems’ VIP X1600 video encoder/iSCSI solution combines the strengths of DVRs and IP video to eliminate the loss of images from DVR, network video recorder (NVR) or network failure. With earlier systems, security personnel could lose images from all cameras in the event of a system-wide power failure. But being modular, the VIP X1600 limits loss of video to four cameras at most. And the whole unit has a redundant power supply to help prevent failure. The iSCSI disk array is also directly attached to the encoder, making the solution independent from the health of the network.
To help security personnel monitor cameras more effectively, video content analysis embedded in an IP camera or encoder (called VCA at the edge) reduces the amount of video that is sent to personnel to monitor.
Indeed, it is possible for the system to only transmit alarm video in which a potential security concern has occurred. With VCA at the edge, some systems can be programmed to trigger alarms based behavioral analysis, which can accurately identify loitering, the removal or theft of objects from a scene, or objects left behind. Once an alarm is triggered, the system automatically increases the frame rate and resolution of the recording to capture the event in more detail and send the video to storage.
Bosch Security Systems also recently introduced a complete portfolio of HD solutions for casinos that provide more detailed images so operators can distinguish small features in a scene, thus making them ideal for facial recognition and similar applications.
All products in the Bosch HD portfolio feature advanced H.264 video compression, intuitive operator software, ONVIF conformance and a “vision-friendly” 16:9 aspect ratio, according to Gert van Iperen, director of Bosch Security. In addition, the Bosch H.264 implementation offers the benefits of broadcast quality video with up to 50 percent less storage space compared to MPEG-4; with every detail in the image captured without compromise in frame rate, thus improving object recognition, van Iperen said.
BIGGER IS BETTER
INSIDE AND OUTToshiba Surveillance Video has combined fault tolerant engineering with multi-format support of up to 32 IP network cameras – including megapixel models – in its new NVS network video recorder. Capable of speeds up to 30 pictures-per-second per camera with audio, NVS recorders are a single-box networking solution for IP video surveillance applications demanding ultra-high resolution recording, mass storage capacity up to 4TB, and compatibility with cameras from all major manufacturers. Dozens of Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) control protocols are also supported.
All models are field upgradeable, thus eliminating the need to send units away for service. Available internal RAID 5 achieves full data redundancy, while multiple levels of security prevent unauthorized access. Video signal loss detection alerts administrators if a camera is no longer functioning.
Casino security personnel can use this equipment to conduct searches based on motion, sensor events, thumbnail previews, or graphical timelines. Once located, targeted video can be exported as AVI video, JPEG images or as individual frames printed out for further review later. Search, playback and backup are performed simultaneously.
For surveillance outside a casino, Toshiba offers the IK-7100A day/night color bullet cameras that include several features that improve their ruggedness, imaging prowess and installation. Encased in a weather-resistant IP66-rated metal housing, the IK-7100A resists corrosion, bad weather and vandalism, while 16 long-range, high-intensity infrared LEDs enhance performance of the camera in dark conditions where object detection and subject recognition is critical. The 850nm LEDs are invisible to the human eye yet illuminate a clear image at over 30 feet in total darkness.
Toshiba offers two analog versions: The IK-7100A-3.6 has a 3.6mm lens for a wider sight range, while the IK-7100A-8 has 8.0mm lens for mid-range applications.
VISUALLY APPEALINGAn upgraded version of the VisualCasino system has been introduced by Biometrica Systems Inc.
“VisualCasino 6 includes new facial recognition software package that is many times more effective than in previous versions,” said James M. Pepin, vice president of sales and marketing at Biometrica. “Incorporating the best technology used in systems employed by government and airports, this next generation solution will enable casinos to better control who enters and plays on their premises. It is designed to be even more user friendly than earlier systems.”
Features of this system include the automated Live Recognition program that can be used in certain key areas (such as at turnstiles, escalators or other places where most patrons will be facing in one direction) to search all faces 24/7. Casino security personnel can direct surveillance cameras to capture images of suspected people. The program will then automatically search existing databases to see if they match any known persons the casino would like to keep out.
“The program can quickly scan the suspected person and see if he matches any of 4,000 or so people in the database and in a fraction of the time a human might take, and alert surveillance personnel when a close enough match warrants closer review,” Pepin said.
Also added to VisualCasino 6 is the Mobile Communications Module so that surveillance can send alerts (photos and data) about a person of interest right to a manager on the casino floor. The alert goes through a secure connection to an iTouch, iPhone or other web-based phone, Pepin noted.
I'VE SEEN A FACEThe iGWatch Facial Recognition System offered by iView Systems also enables security people to flag a suspicious person seen entering on a surveillance camera.
“Instead of flipping through mug books to verify the match, iGWatch automatically checks the person’s face against stored images,” said Martin Drew, president of iView. The scanning and checking process is performed instantaneously, enabling security to intercept the verified miscreant before he can vanish inside the casino.
The system, which seamlessly integrates with iView’s iTrak Incident Reporting and Risk Management System, also can be used to flag problem gamblers, or even alert employees to high rollers to provide them instant recognition and service.
DEFINED POSSIBILITIESSanyo Security Products Group offers a line of full high-definition surveillance cameras and video recording systems for critical security monitoring.
The HD Series consists of nine HD full-frame-rate cameras that capture crisp yet clear video images with up to 4 megapixel resolution. Images captured by these cameras provide six times the detail as earlier cameras using standard definition or analog formats. Applications include not only monitoring portals where the improved capture of facial details pinpoint miscreants, but also at cash cages where cheating can be stopped and mistakes corrected by capturing banknote serial numbers and details on customers’ hands like jewelry or tattoos.
The line also contains three compact box cameras (all with CS mount lenses, focus assist drive and a camera motion noise reduction system) that are offered in two day/night versions and one color version.
NICE AND EASY
EYE IN THE SKYThe Oncam IP cameras from North American Video (NAV) feature Grandeye technology that enables 360-degree surveillance in 5-megapixel digital and 3-megapixel analog formats with 12-bit 5- and 3-megapixel color and image processing along with sophisticated video analytics.
Oncam cameras are designed with several unique features, including on-board camera generation of multiple, independent perspective-corrected virtual camera views (up to four), each of which can be controlled manually or by using the in-camera video analytics.
“The cameras also feature support for electronic pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) functionality throughout the entire 360-degree field of view during live viewing or playback,” said Daniel Jackson, system specialist at NAV.
Complete scenes can be viewed in panoramic or multi-view screen mode. The latter is supported by the camera and may be composited at the client end in either the NVR or on a PC running a standard Web browser.
GETTING THE LOWDOWNIndigoVision North America has introduced the 11000 PTZ Series of high-definition security cameras that can be used in everyday CCTV applications that provide high image quality in very low bandwidths.
For use in day/night applications, the HD PTZ Dome camera incorporates a dedicated encoder chip, which guarantees full frame rate (25/30fps) HD video under all conditions.
“Its unique use of pure digital signaling from sensor to network results in typical bandwidths of 2Mbps to a maximum of only 6Mbps under full PTZ,” said Oliver Vellacott, CEO of IndigoVision.
Both HD and SD cameras can operate seamlessly on the same network. And the HD 11000 has a 10 times optical and 12 times digital zoom, allowing operators to zoom in and identify fine detail such as license plates and people’s faces.
MARSHALL PLANTechnology also is advancing in equipment used in the rooms where security personnel monitor feeds from all secreted cameras.
The MD series of rack-mounted monitors fromMarshall Electronics integrate Telecast Fiber System’s TeleCube Fiber-Optic HD/SDI transmission input/output modules. These new fiber modules deliver the industry’s broadest range of digital rates while maintaining pristine signal quality that broadcasters and integrators demand. And they provide video imaging comparable to that used in television broadcast production.
MD series monitors offer a flexible modular solution to system integration. They can be configured with a variety of video inputs that can be “swapped” or interchanged in the field based on your evolving needs and requirements. This eliminates the need to upgrade or replace equipment when a different input or application is required.
The monitors also come in a variety of sizes and configurations, with the new V-MD434 and V-MD503 monitors featuring a new slim design with advanced front panel menu and feature control.