Players Casino opts for OnSSI’s Ocularis solution to manage its camera network

Ventura, Calif.-based Players Casino is a newly relocated and remodeled card room with live poker, blackjack and other state-sanctioned card games. The casino itself is a single large building, approximately 30,000 square feet, with a large parking lot and 28 tables for card games.

In 2010, the casino initiated a large-scale three-phase expansion of facility operations to eventually include video surveillance, access control, point-of-sale, audio, data infrastructure, data security and domain/file share as an integrated solution. The integrator, Long Beach, Calif.-based Customized Contractor Services (CCS), is a full-service contractor that specializes in turnkey solutions. CCS’s Ryan Gleason was assigned as project manager for the entirety of the expansion.

During the first phase of the project, “Megapixel and IP video really had not been adopted yet at any wide scale in the gaming industry,” Gleason said. Bosch analog cameras were installed, with approximately 120 cameras in place by the time the second and third phases began in March 2011. At that point, Gleason said, “There was very strong feedback from the gaming community about the growth possibilities and being able to maintain compliance with a simple software upgrade.”

The Ocularis video management solution from OnSSI helps operators monitor and track events from multiple security cameras with fewer people.
The Ocularis video management solution from OnSSI helps operators monitor and track events from multiple security cameras with fewer people.

For phases two and three of this gaming installation, as camera counts began increasing dramatically, manpower for monitoring became another significant issue along with tracking and noting incidents and events; making an IP system with a VMS essential. Players Casino requested demos and ultimately selected OnSSI’s Ocularis, using encoders to migrate many of their existing analog cameras over to avoid the expense and inconvenience of having to rip and replace every analog camera. One key factor in the decision for Ocularis was the software’s fast, easy training for both new and seasoned employees.

“It’s an easy-to-use interface that provides all the functionality you need for day-to-day surveillance operations,” said F. Michel Velo, IT director and surveillance supervisor for Players Casino, who led his team in making the choice to utilize Ocularis. “Unlike older analog systems with cumbersome controls and difficult-to-understand modules, Ocularis makes it easy to get the most out of your surveillance system without needing to be an expert. The ease of use is a huge benefit when training your surveillance operators.”

Gleason concurred “The operators running the system required an easy to use, quick interface to respond to incidents quickly,” he said. “Being able to link camera actions together into a series of events simplifies how many actions are required for operators to actually pull up the appropriate cameras. Training for new recruits can be conducted in as little as 15 minutes. For training new employees, OnSSI was the best option.”

“Ocularis is also able to ensure no data is ever lost,” Gleason added. “Because of Ocularis and the expandable nature of the system, we’re able to make this system 100 percent fail-safe. You really couldn’t get that with any type of analog system, and that’s why the gaming community is starting to embrace IP. That’s the approach that Players was going toward with OnSSI; they need to know that they’re not going to have any loss of data.”

COST-EFFECTIVE APPROACH

Since budget was an issue, it was important to deploy a solution with an unlimited number of client connections, as Players Casino did not want to be faced with sudden unexpected costs in the future when adding clients, as any growing business is certain to do. “There wasn’t a nickel-and-dime aspect to the installation and expansion of the system,” Gleason said. “I think that is big, especially for gaming properties where they’re not interested in hidden costs; they want to know what it’s going to cost. With Ocularis, they can have as many clients as they want, they can keep their clients on a USB and install it freely as they like.”

The first steps of what will ultimately be a fully integrated solution have been taken with Ocularis delivering automatic notifications when selected doors open and close. “With Ocularis, they have an all-inclusive, no-headaches approach to the installation,” Gleason said. “They did not want something that was going to cost them a lot of money to maintain year after year.” Since the system gives triggered alerts only when the doors open and close, it also helps Players search for footage. For example, if they’re lookingfor something that occurred around the time that the count room door opened they can review their log and view footage from that specific timeframe.

In the near future, the casino plans to integrate access control as well as point-of-sale into the system.

Currently, Players Casino is utilizing a combination of 3-megapixel 1080p and 720p Axis cameras, as well as Bosch analog cameras on encoders with an Axis high density rack. For their remote parking lots, which by law must be under surveillance, they have a CISCO wireless bridge system that is wirelessly point-to-point transmission encrypted. According to Gleason, Players has maintained a100 percent uptime for all remote parking lot surveillance without ever dropping a frame.

For recording, Players has a custom-built server with an NVR farm using super high-performance machines with Intel chipsets and direct-attached storage that pulls the footage at high speed. Both the network infrastructure and the data security were provided by CCS.

Players’ executive management is highly satisfied with the system. “With a secure remote connection in place, we can browse footage from anywhere with an Internet connection as easily as if we were connecting remotely to check your office e-mail,” Velo said. “I can easily log in to the recording servers and perform any maintenance that needs to be done.”

While the video surveillance system now in place at Players Casino is quite sophisticated, the successful casino already has plans for expansion. Additional megapixel cameras will be deployed in the parking lots, replacing current analog cameras on encoders. As the property adds business value, Ocularis can continue to grow with the installation.

“Because Ocularis is a Windows-based application, it can be more easily integrated into our business computer network and is easier to configure when compared to old traditional analog systems,” Velo said. “This has made it easier for us to distribute secured access to the system via any compatible Windows-based PC.”

OnSSI is a Pearl River, N.Y.-based provider of IP video management software. For more information, visit www.onssi.com.