Casino Surveillance: Integrator Gives House a Hand at River Rock

The sign on the door reads “tech room,” but that vastly understates the role of the room housing the “brains” of the largest casino security and surveillance installation in Western Canada.

Open the door, and you’re greeted by neatly bundled color-coated wires, floor-to-ceiling DVRs, matrix switchers and the crew behind systems integrator Advanced Audio Concepts (AAC) — the guys who keep the River Rock Casino and Resort’s complex surveillance system running smoothly.

Located in Richmond, British Columbia — on the south edge of greater Vancouver’s lower mainland — River Rock opened for business in June 2004, with its hotel portion slated to open this August. River Rock is the only resort and casino combination in the Great Canadian Gaming Corp. family that includes seven casinos and five horseracing tracks across Canada. It’s the largest among the Great Canadian properties, with a 90,000-square-foot gaming floor, 1,000 slot machines, 70 table games and the largest poker room in Canada.

River Rock’s system is different from others for a number of reasons, including the unique set-up of the tech room, the innovative design of the surveillance rooms and the use of self-designed “node points” throughout the facility. However, what really sets this installation apart is the fact integrator Doug Gilroy and his key team of Marty Funk, Mark Bayrock, Tom Davidson and Gary Kielpinski had total freedom in the design and commissioning of the system. That freedom has now extended to the system’s upkeep.

Prep Work Started With Building Tech Room
When River Rock was still a shell of a building, the integrators worked directly with the construction team to make sure the tech room was completed first. This would allow them to begin installation immediately.

They also designated spots for 18 node points — 4X4-foot areas throughout the facility where each camera receives its power and pan/tilt/zoom control while transmitting 48 cameras at a time back to the tech room.

Though many large-scale installations include node rooms that can support up to 200 cameras, the integrators intentionally designed a system with several smaller node points positioned close together for greater efficiency. The advantage to nodes is a “plug-and-play” style of integration, allowing the integrator to quickly add cameras.

“In the initial design stage, we figured out where we’d likely have camera clusters, and then worked with the electrical contractor to plan conduits to the node points,” says Gilroy.

The 10-member AAC team had just 10 days to integrate 600 cameras on the gaming floor. With such a tight timeline, they aggressively approached the job and installed 60 cameras per day.

To help speed the integration, cameras were preconfigured, preterminated and precabled in an offsite facility. For the tech room, the equipment was preterminated in an off-site facility. When the equipment arrived, the crew then installed cable trays, colorcoded the cables, reterminated the ends and commissioned the system.

The integrator has a long-term relationship with Honeywell Security and the Honeywell Systems Group, which worked closely with the integration team and supplied suggestions on how to make its products more effective.

The tech room was uniquely designed with Honeywell Enterprise network video recorder (NVR) racks facing the matrix switch racks in two parallel rows. This set-up allows Mark Bayrock, the IT arm of AAC, to swivel between both systems and quickly program cameras.

Cameras Designed for Quick Connect and Expandability
The River Rock facility was originally designed for 1,100 cameras, but AAC wired it for 2,500 to leave room for expansion. They designed a video balun in conjunction with a Honeywell KD6 camera and a MuxLab video converter that allowed for quick camera integration.

“When camera placement is decided, the technician installs the camera and plugs it into the node,” Gilroy explains. “We look at the color of the wire, cross-connect it in the tech room on a large BIX wall into the matrix and give it a camera number. It’s as easy as that.”

The installers racked equipment to allow room for the system’s growth. In the short time since the initial installation, they have already expanded from 28 to 32 servers, with 1,024 channels and more than 500 terabytes of RAID-5 storage outputting through a Honeywell MAX-1000 matrix onto 160 monitors at 12 workstations.

The integrators also added a unique element in the tech room — an LCD monitor installed above the BIX wall that allows them to tap into any camera signal coming in from a node.

Casino Installation’s Cabling Goes for Miles and Miles

The installation at River Rock might go down as one of North America’s largest, at least in terms of the amount of cabling used. There are 40 miles of twisted-pair cable running throughout the facility, as well as access-control cable and integration wiring.

Simple aspects make things easier for the integrators that troubleshoot the system, like color-coding cables between the matrix and encoder inputs, as well as labeling the IP addresses and server numbers.

Even the two surveillance rooms, which include 160 monitors and six plasma screens, were built with unique features.

“The ability to get up and move around in the surveillance room, coupled with the ergonomically placed monitors, makes life easier for the surveillance team,” says Gilroy. “We designed our own console and used a local manufacturer to build exactly what we wanted – there was a significant cost savings.”

The surveillance rooms are equipped with the Honeywell ULTRAKey TM keyboard controller, which allows the operators to choose any one of the cameras throughout the facility on a touchscreen display. They can also print images directly from the cameras and E-mail them.

Installer Connects to a Lasting Relationship
AAC has been installing and designing surveillance equipment for 15 years with Great Canadian. Working closely with its product supplier Honeywell, River Rock served as an advanced testing ground for some of Honeywell’s newest integration software, including the MAX-1000 matrix switch and its enterprise network video management system.

The lessons learned at River Rock stand to benefit future users of the products, as the integrators found ways the equipment could work better and Honeywell made changes accordingly.

Proving beneficial for AAC was the installers’ relationship with Great Canadian Director of Surveillance Doug Morrison and the gaming firm’s director of security, Pat Ennis.

“In most installations, there’s little or no continuity between the people that designed the system, install it and the people that operate the system. In this facility, we were responsible for the design, from inception to creation,” Gilroy says. “It’s rare when the integrator plays all these roles. There has to be cooperation and communication between all parties.”

River Rock Installation Wins Future Business
Now that the River Rock project is completed, things are not slowing down for Great Canadian Casinos and AAC.

As Great Canadian expands and acquires casinos throughout Canada, Gilroy and the crew of AAC will be involved with the planning and execution of
the surveillance system at each new location. They’ll also be leading the effort to convert Great Canadian’s existing surveillance systems from analog to digital by 2007 — a mandate from the British Columbia Lottery Corp.

“With new casinos spread all over Canada, we’re hoping that Advanced Audio Concepts can oversee each project, even if they’re not able to be there physically,” said Great Canadian’s Morrison. “We want our systems to look the same from a surveillance operator standpoint no matter what casino you’re in.”

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