Hurray for Hollywood Casino’s Video Solution

What happens when an educated end user sets out to design its own 2,100-camera surveillance system? In the case of Indiana’s Hollywood Casino and its new superboat, tremendous success – thanks to a cohesive partnership among end user, integrators and suppliers.

Building The System’s Brains

Hollywood Casino’s new control room is one of the country’s largest. Access is monitored by IGC, so a mantrap and separate review room was built to streamline the process. The round-the-clock demand placed on agents led Krabbe to design a comfortable, user-friendly work environment.

Also taken into account was the casino’s anticipated 60,000-square-foot expansion of undeveloped space. Thus, the control room and neighboring equipment room plans changed about 10 times to accommodate the best configuration.

Krabbe worked with ADS to design the functional flow and layout of the room, utilizing the latest technology available from the manufacturer. The team had planned to use analog outputs to projectors for the monitor wall but instead decided to install Synectics’ IP Video Wall, a solution enabling the functionality of a unified monitor wall at a fraction of the cost.

“While in concept we understood what the IP Video Wall could do, now that it’s installed and working we are very pleased we went this route and were able to save money through this innovative solution,” says Krabbe.

ADS’ Pulver adds, “By learning about Hollywood’s functionality requirements, then applying leading technology to the best of its ability to meet those needs, we were able to maximize the value proposition. This is how we bring power to the solutions we install and the greatest benefit to the end user.”

A spacious equipment room was built to accommodate the DVR equipment as well as four UPS units for backup, and three HVAC units that cool the room and protect against equipment failure. In addition, 10 intermediate distribution frame (IDF) closets were added on the casino floor. While most are currently used for existing analog equipment, they will eventually accommodate future migration to IP cameras.

So quickly is technology changing nowadays that the manufacturer’s encoding method evolved between the planning and installation phases. Synectics introduced a new internal architecture for encoding and storage that accommodated more cameras and superseded its originally s
pecified external eight-channel H.264 encoders.

The internal 16-channel PCI-e encoders enabled up to 32 channels of 4 CIF, 30-frames-per-second recording for each networked server. This reduced the number of chassis and saved more than 30 percent of the rack space, which is a plus considering the anticipated system expansion.

“The density of Synectics’ solution enabled us to fit all 1,800 cameras on the vessel into eight racks. This saves a great deal of space and power, while reducing the end user’s overall operating costs,” says Pulver.

Customizing Helps Cut Costs

Through extensive planning between Dallmann Systems, ADS, Synectics and the end user’s surveillance team, a host of challenges were successfully managed. There were at least 100 revisions to the camera layout, in large part due to a complete redirection of the new casino’s interior design theme. Complex design elements on the casino floor created a challenging environment for determining camera locations that would meet regulatory viewing requirements for slots and table games.

For example, The Hollywood on the Roof projection dome reaches up and stretches across the ceiling over the stage and bar, which limits where cameras can be placed to monitor video slots and POS activity at the bar. Creative solutions were developed to strategically place cameras in the ceiling grid at the edge of the dome – 31 feet above the ground. Pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) cameras were mounted to the bar backdrop, then faux painted to camouflage their bases.

Midway through the project flexibility was called for when automatic failover for cameras and DVRs had to be implemented to accommodate the multiroom recording environment (landside and vessel) and specified functionality parameters of the new Pelco 9700 Series matrix switch. If hot-swap had been enabled in just one of the two rooms, the amount of tie-lines would have had to double to ensure there was no impact on viewing video.

Faced with adding tie-lines or running coax the old-fashioned way — both very expensive options — the integrator asked Synectics to develop an alternative solution. The result was a custom, full duplex alarm management application to allow multisite hot-swap between the two recording locations and eliminate the need for more tie-lines.

A 2-Phased Installation

In May 2008, Krabbe’s technical team began the first phase of installing 300 digital channels on the landside of the casino and integrating to the existing Pelco matrix switch.

The property’s new digital system was originally controlled from a small room on the landside of the property and featured a combined Synergy server (the software controlling third-party integrations, user customizations, management reports, etc.) and incident locker that stores long-term events for review and evidentiary use. Combining the Synergy server and incident locker enabled a relatively small footprint to monitor the initial 300 cameras.

In November 2008, the second phase of the project focused on connecting the landside and vessel surveillance systems with the addition of 1,800 analog cameras. Because the surveillance incident growth pattern would increase dramatically when the new vessel casino opened, the Synergy server and incident locker had to be separated to accommodate these new channels of high demand recording.

ADS had to physically move the critical infrastructure components from the small landside room to the new room on the vessel, and did so with very little downtime. It took just 20 minutes to transport the server from one side of the property to the other, and there was no loss of recording at any time. ADS set up the new incident locker in the vessel control room, seamlessly changing combined-function hardware into a single-function piece.

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