Casino environments are difficult, and, as such, so is the design and implementation of a casino surveillance system.
Historically, whether by design or restriction of available technology, many casinos have operated on separate Pit Cam systems (for surveillance of gaming areas including blackjack, roulette, and baccarat) and general surveillance systems (covering slot/pokie machines, bars and entertainment areas, entrances/exits and public walkways).
Each system has its own core server, recording server and workstations housed in separate locations, and requiring separate teams for operation and maintenance. This dual system approach largely has been due to the available analogue technology, which was leading in its day, and included matrix switches and DVR's, with BUSS connected PTZ controllers with limitations of cable distances and distribution points. However, an important question has arisen: with new IP Video Management System (VMS) technology, do we still need separate Pit Cam & general surveillance systems?
Among the reasons for preserving dual surveillance systems is the ability to restrict feeds to individual operators, thus assuring their focused attention. IP VMS technology, however, provides the ability to distribute camera feeds to any given point on the CCTV network and can allow or restrict operators to view these individual feeds.
Consider that we no longer have restrictions of cabling distances because the entire system is managed this through carefully designed and engineered network switch points, and all devices connected such as cameras, servers, workstations, spot monitors and PTZ keyboards communicate over this designed IP infrastructure.
Therefore, IP technology allows more flexibility for distributed architecture within all aspects of a complex casino environment. We have the ability to allocate our VMS server and recording hardware in a centrally managed location, but then, through system programming, can create individual "virtual" systems and allow only the relevant users to have access to one or both of these systems. This then offers us the appearance of two individual systems at an operator’s level through aggregation of systems while managing our resources in a more efficient manner. Specifically, the same security and/or IT department can maintain with ease these designs, databases and infrastructure, lowering maintenance and operational costs for the casino and raising efficiencies.
Miki Manjal is a security industry veteran, having spent the last 12 years with Pelco. Manjal leads the development and implementation of Pelco's global strategic plan within the Casino and Gaming market. Matthew Horne, Pelco Sales Manager, contributed to this article.