Whether it’s a convention center or a luxurious home, the quality of a security systems installation makes itself evident by its lack of conspicuousness. This requires melding environmental aesthetics with optimal functionality, seamless integration and ease of use. Doing so necessitates the skill, superior design and innovation it takes to win Security Sales & Integration’s Integrated Installation of the Year Award.
Announced as the biggest among many winners during SSI’s SAMMY Awards ceremony in Las Vegas April 5, Denver’s Digatron Inc. and Imperial Security Systems Inc. of Watervliet, N.Y., distinguished themselves among several other talented security contractors and were awarded special plaques for, respectively, Integrated Commercial/Industrial and Residential Installations of the Year.
In its winning installation, Digatron integrated access control, CCTV, intercom, intrusion detection and fiber-optic systems for a one-million-square-foot addition to the Denver Convention Center.
Imperial installed intrusion detection, fire, carbon monoxide, water-level, access control, CCTV, central vacuum, telephone/intercom, home theater and whole-house audio systems for a 7,000-square-foot residence in Loudonville, N.Y.
Considering both Digatron and Imperial had previously been runner-ups, these two installations are indicative of the outstanding craftsmanship they routinely wield. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them so special.
2005 Commercial Installation of the Year:
Digatron Demonstrates Dazzling Skill in Denver Convention Center
Digatron Inc. is a systems integrator and designer of integrated digital video and security systems that has been serving its national client base since being founded in Denver in 1980. The company has earned recognition by providing advanced network-based systems to the most exacting specifications of Fortune 500 corporations, as well as federal, state and local government agencies.
Although it operates at the high end of the market, Digatron remains in touch with its humble beginnings by sponsoring community events and participating in association causes. Speaking to its expertise, President/CEO Tony Ibarra is the only electronic security representative on the 20-member Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee, and also serves on Security Sales & Integration’s Editorial Advisory Board.
The enterprising Digatron also operates a sister company called DigaNET that supplies full-motion digital video and audio recording solutions. Aside from its government clients, some of Digatron’s high-profile customers include Invesco Field at Mile High, Coors Field, Denver Museum of Natural History, Riviera Hotel and Casino, Denver University, Hertz Rental Car Corp., Hewlett-Packard and Safeway.
The Denver Convention Center can now also be included on that list thanks to the fantastic job Digatron did in meeting the needs of a customer that is at the focal point of Colorado’s biggest city.
New Addition Stimulates Greater Security Interest
For some time, the Denver Convention Center had lagged behind other cities with newer, more spacious and prestigious venues. That all began to change when city and private planners approved a one-million-square-foot addition that would nearly double the size of the existing facility, including 600,000 square feet of contiguous meeting space and 60 loading docks.
Denver city officials were determined to make sure their upgraded convention center was as sound security wise as it was in aesthetics and function. That’s why they enlisted local integrator Digatron.
“9/11 changed our world and the Department of Homeland Security has listed both Denver and its convention center as prime targets for another act against our nation,” says Digatron’s Ibarra. “This facility is like a little city in which staff, vendors, exhibitors and the public require protection, assistance, surveillance and support.”
Integrator’s Expertise, Client Focus Bolsters Its Bid
Digatron already had a history with the venue, as the company had repaired the existing security and surveillance system on several occasions. The company’s track record, technical expertise and cost-sensitivity ultimately won it the project.
“I selected Digatron after interviewing most, if not all, of the other Denver-area systems integrators,” says Randy Montoya, director of security for the convention center. “Digatron listened to my needs before trying to sell me anything. Their genuine concern and pertinent questions were among the factors why I selected them.”
Montoya adds Digatron demonstrated stronger technical aptitude than other security contractors and shared knowledge that backed up what was proposed. The company showed Montoya how the center’s security investments could be leveraged through the years. Further, Digatron improved upon the original project specifications done by another consultant.
“This is perhaps where our company impressed the end user, general contractor, electrical contractor and, of course, the city, as we took the time to truly evaluate the installation requirements originally specified in the bid,” says Digatron’s Ibarra. “We recommended improvements that would reduce costs and provide a better solution.”
The integrator provided the city with a value-added design offering higher quality day/night IR cut-filter removal pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) cameras compared to those originally specified. The upgraded cameras operate in lower light levels by switching from color to black and white, rather than slowing down the shutter speed. This feature also meshes nicely with the DVRs that were selected.
From a big picture perspective, security measures were called for inside and outside the buildings and parking structures to monitor the comings and goings of people — including celebrities and politicians — and materials, including expensive equipment, vehicles and art, into the complex. Other concerns included the potential for vandalism, aggressive behavior, vagrancy and medical assistance.
“The convention center had more than 300 entry/exit points that needed to be secured at varying times either during or outside event hours,” adds Ibarra. “Medical emergencies are common, requiring emergency intercoms and life-safety systems to be installed that allow security personnel to react quickly and evaluate any condition. A light rail station and bus terminal also surrounds and is part of the center.”
Plans, Trains and Golf Carts Top Installation Challenges
The scope of the Denver Convention Center project meant Digatron had to call upon all of its capabilities to pull it off. The company spent about two years coordinating with other trades to complete the job, which came in on time and on budget.
Coordinating with those other trades and coping with the light rail station proved to be among the most challenging issues associated with the project.
“We had to work around all the other trades. As any integrator knows, studs have to be installed before walls go up, and so on, with security being the last element,” details Ibarra. “Also, a light rail train with tracks going through the convention center was in operation throughout construction. We had to work around its schedule to mount strategically located cameras.”
Another problem was how to deal with the expansive confines of the convention center. The facility was so immense that Digatron decided to buy an electric golf cart for its installers to zoom around the site. This helped keep Digatron on schedule.
“I was very impressed by them investing in an electric golf cart to scoot around the site,” says Montoya. “It was the envy of some other trades here.” As Ibarra reveals, that envy led to another unusual security concern. “A special security system had to be installed as others liked to ‘borrow’ the DigaCart after hours,” he says.
Full-Motion Video, Integration Pace Convention Center Project
With integrated, user-friendly operations in mind, Digatron interconnected video surveillance, intrusion detection, motion detection, intercom, parking control equipment and emergency call stations that interface with digital facility maps within the control center. When an alarm is activated, the area is pinpointed on the map and the appropriate camera provides an image.
“The entire project combined cameras and access control to fiber, integrated seamlessly with an alarm surveillance and CCTV master command station with full motion digital video recording,” explains Ibarra. “We recommended and were approved to use full-motion digital video recording for all cameras because we believed it would save on investigative time and offer the client a better return on investment.”
In all, the project involved 55 p/t/z and 48 fixed cameras branded with Digatron’s own DigaNET insignia that linked to the head-end via fiber optics. All the cameras are day/night color and utilize IR cut-filter removal to offer exceptional operation in lowlight environments. Images from these cameras are fed into an American Dynamics matrix and recorded onto seven DigaNET 16-channel DVRs.
“While others recommend MPEG-4 video compression technology, we have adopted MPEG-4-AVC-10, which takes up only 90Kbps for a 30-frameper- second video feed compared to the 2-4MBps required by traditional MPEG-4,” adds Ibarra. “This allows for future remote connectivity by management and law enforcement, using limited bandwidth channels, including wireless.”
This approach to video surveillance was one of the most appealing aspects of the project as far as Montoya is concerned.
“The best part of is that all of my cameras are recorded in full-motion video. The outdoor cameras do not slow down their shutters at night,” he says. “My staff benefits from this as we are asked to review many claims or requests for specific cameras to be played back from specific times. The high resolution makes my investigative team’s work that much easier.”
310 Doors, 21 Video Feeds Part of Interconnected System
In addition to the advanced video capabilities of the Denver Convention
Center project, Digatron also installed an extensive access control and intrusion system utilizing DSX products to accommodate 310 doors and 30 proximity readers. Also incorporated were Zenitel intercoms.
Most of these systems are interconnected via International Fiber Systems (IFS) products. The multimode fiber network includes 21 video feeds originating from six telephone closets located throughout the facility that display video on 10 Sony monitors.
Ibarra further illustrates how everything ties together to create a comprehensive security solution: “A forced-open door alarm will move a corresponding p/t/z camera to view the alarmed location, sounding a local audible alarm as well as opening up the associated intercom station. The matrix switcher also calls up other surrounding cameras on monitors. Digital video recording is then marked as an alarm received to aid in retrieval of recorded images.”
End User Calls Job Most Trouble-Free He Has Ever Seen
The two-year Denver Convention Center job consumed more than 2,600 man-hours and came in at around $500,000. Not only did Digatron hit the schedule goals, it did so with minimal problems or errors.
“When it came to the inspection, we had less than 20 or so punch list items identified in the final walkthrough after making thousands of connections and installing hundreds of pieces of equipment,” proudly asserts Ibarra. “This was a testament to our installation crew and project managers, especially since most of the items were minor, such as labeling, etc.”
Perhaps what’s most important is that the customer is tickled pink about the installation and Digatron’s professionalism and commitment to customer service. According to Montoya, the system has already helped resolve several instances of vendors/ clients damaging the facility and even successfully identified a license plate in a hit-and-run crime that led to an arrest.
“I have been in the business for about 25 years and this is one of the most trouble-free installations I have ever been through,” concludes Montoya. “Their commitment to total quality was apparent over the past two years during both the planning stage and installation.”