A Sure Bet

Aug 1, 2007 12:00 PM


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After a two-year search for a video surveillance system to meet its needs, the Barona Gaming Commission, an independent regulatory body that also monitors casino surveillance in the Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino in San Diego, selected the Dallmeier Casino Team to design a tailor-made surveillance solution. The result is a fully digital matrix system with real-time continuous monitoring.

“We previously used an analog monitoring system, and we decided to implement a more innovative program,” says Raymond Welch, director of surveillance with the Barona Gaming Commission. “Regularly changing the tapes and archiving them was simply too expensive, and searching for relevant pictures was tedious.”

Since the award-winning property opened in 2003, Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino has developed and adopted a number of technological innovations, including the cross-platform “ticket-in and ticket-out” technology now found on almost every casino floor in the country. Barona also uses a patented thumbprint technology for guests in the resort's high-end private gaming rooms. In December 2005, Barona first offered server-based gaming through IGT, a Reno, Nev.-based provider of casino gaming products and services. Barona and IGT are jointly developing games and attributes for the server-based platform on the floor at Barona, which has the potential to significantly change the way casinos deliver new games, themes and customer relationship management (CRM) to their guests.

Given the Barona Tribe and casino management's penchant for embracing leading technology, the system offered by Germany-based Dallmeier was a natural choice. “Barona's new monitoring system will become a model for many other casinos in North America,” Welch says. “One of the most important factors in choosing Dallmeier was their understanding of our vision to create a customized solution using the best available technology.”

More than 1,100 DIS-2/M MPEG encoders with a total recording capacity of more than 330 TB with full redundancy were installed for the system. The DIS-2/M is a modular audio/video recording and transmission system in a 19-in. rack construction with slide-in units. Its construction makes it suitable for monitoring critical areas in casinos where compact high-quality recording and real-time transmission are required (broadcast quality).

The system consists of modules, each based on the Linux secure operating system. In each module, there is a connection to one video and one audio signal. The video input has been designed as a composite and Y/C input. Four input contacts and four output contacts are available on each channel for control and switching tasks. In addition, each module features a RS232/485 interface for controlling pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras.

The modular construction of the system and the hot-plug function of the individual modules that the redundant power supply units of the rack also possess ensure highest availability of a complete solution. An additional advantage — and cost savings — is a 50 percent space saving in the IT rooms.

The systems record directly to the integrated memory and thus ensure maximum availability of the recorded data, even if the network experiences problems or fails. Furthermore, the requirements to the network (e.g. the bandwidth) are minimized through this memory concept. It is possible to simultaneously record, transmit live video signals and replay recorded images in an unrestricted manner.

The Barona Casino began replacing existing cameras with Dallmeier CasinoCams with Cam_inPIX technology. The sensor concept of Cam_inPIX technology is based on the Digital Pixel System (DPS) platform from Pixim Inc., Mountain View, Calif. Each individual pixel of picture information is converted digitally when the picture is taken, and each is then optimally processed. Even sites affected by high-contrast lighting conditions can be captured and documented with outstanding picture quality. Specially developed software enables the CasinoCams to supply top-quality pictures in specific casino conditions. There is, for example, the “gambling” preset for the surveillance of roulette tables. The clear color playback makes it possible to reconstruct disputed situations correctly in order to resolve problems. The reflections from shiny chips are suppressed. The “poker table” preset is ideal for the clear identification of playing cards on various felt surfaces (green, blue, black, brown, etc.). High-contrast and true color playback enables identification of the print on playing cards perfectly. The CasinoCams also include a “wheel” and a “slot machine” preset.

Workstations and analog monitor walls were installed to operate the system. The system can be controlled and managed using keyboard, jog-shuttle and graphical user interface, specially customized for Barona Casinos.

“To ensure optimum reliability and functionality, the system was tested in every detail before being put into service,” says Konrad Hechtbauer, manager of the Dallmeier projects and applications team. “The complete installation was assembled in the Dallmeier Electronic GmbH in Regensburg, Germany, so that when it had its works inspection, the whole system had been examined and tested, including the complete infrastructure and the network environment. The flexibility of the management software enabled further adjustments to be made for the special conditions in the Barona Casino during the works inspection and before the commissioning.”

To ensure that the changeover to the digital solution went smoothly and without any interruption to the continuous operation, for a time, the new system was running alongside its predecessor. Some of the security staff was working with the new system and was trained so that there were no glitches caused by human error. Only when this was completed was the old system switched off. The CCTV system has run faultlessly since September 2006, and the decision makers plan further expansions of the video surveillance system.

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