Feb 1, 2001 12:00 PM,
By Frank Abram
Effective CCTV Monitoring in the Complex Assures ShopperConfidence and Protection
AS A LEADING TOURIST DESTINATION, Orlando, Florida, offerssomething for people of all ages, with its concentration ofcolossal theme parks and attractions. It’s also a leadingdestination for business meetings and conferences, with itsconvention facilities, resorts and hotels. At the center of it allis a new upscale entertainment, retail, dining and shopping complexcalled Pointe*Orlando.
Situated on International Drive across from the Orange CountyConvention Center, Pointe*Orlando is strategically located a fewshort miles from Orlando International Airport and the world’s mostrenowned and frequently visited theme parks. With 450,000 squarefeet (41,805 square meters) of space encompassing 17 acres (6.88hectares) and housing over 60 tenants, Pointe*Orlando offers arelaxing outdoor experience with lush landscaping, rows of toweringpalm trees, comfortable cafes, theme restaurants and brightlycolored buildings with distinctive architecture. The complexfeatures over 240,000 square feet (22,296 square meters) of retailspace with a host of specialty stores, high fashion boutiques fromtop designers like A|X Armani Exchange and Polo Jeans Co., as wellas FAO Schwarz’s flagship toy store. Entertainment facilitiesinclude Wonderworks™, an interactiveattraction, and Muvico Pointe 21 Theaters with anIMAX® theater.
“We offer a mix of popular national retailers, one of akind stores, theme restaurants and bars, interactive attractionsand movie theaters that you simply can’t find anywhere else inCentral Florida,” said Chad Martin, president ofPointe*Orlando. “We appeal to every consumer taste andpreference, from the tourist who wants to take his family to aninteractive attraction, to the local resident in search of arelaxing place to shop, have lunch with friends and then catch thelatest movie.”
As you would expect, security at Pointe*Orlando is a priority.Walking through the facility or parking garage, you’ll notice themeasures taken to instill the feeling of being in a safe and secureenvironment. In fact, signs posted throughout the complex featuringyellow smiley faces inform visitors they are under continual videosurveillance.
Planning for the extensive CCTV system started during theconstruction phase of Pointe*Orlando. A security consultant hiredby the facility’s owners selected Mavco Incorporated to design andinstall the system. With Mavco’s reputation for high-end securitysolutions in several of the area’s leading theme parks,Pointe*Orlando’s management was confident that they could rely onthe company’s recommendations and turn-key capabilities.
“At the beginning of the project, we were primarilyworking with construction people, and they were very open toinnovative security systems,” said Doug Wyatt, systemdesigner on this project and general manager at Mavco. “Byevaluating the site plan, we were able to design and recommend aCCTV system that covers virtually the entire Pointe*Orlando complexusing a reasonable number of cameras.”
“We’ve installed over 90 cameras at the facility,”said Bryan Stephens, Mavco’s salesperson handling Pointe*Orlando.“As we progressed with the installation, there were at leasta dozen or so cameras added to the initial design by Pointe*Orlandomanagement to assure a safe and secure environment.”Pointe*Orlando features a complement of Panasonic CCTV cameras,including 13 color unitized camera systems, seven black-and-whiteunitized camera systems, 49 black-and-white CCD cameras, and 22color CCD cameras.
Mavco selected Panasonic’s black-and-white unitized camerasbecause they feature DSP technology and deliver an impressive 570lines of resolution with a minimum illumination of only 0.08 lux.Additional features include digital backlight compensation, cameraID, noiseless aperture correction, vertical 2H enhancer and a kneecircuit for a wide dynamic range.
Low-light operation was a key feature for Mavco when specifyingcameras. Panasonic’s general-purpose black-and-white 0.33-inch(8.47mm) CCD cameras with 380 lines of resolution and a minimumillumination of only 0.1 lux offered the ideal balance ofresolution and sensitivity for Pointe*Orlando. For coverage areaswhere color was required, Mavco selected Panasonic’s 0.33-inch(8.47 mm) color CCD cameras that feature a micropixel on each lensto provide a minimum illumination of only 0.9 lux. In addition, theunits deliver advanced digital backlight compensation, auto tracingwhite balance, electronic light control and auto gain control toassure clear images in low light.
Tom Lloyd, security director at Pointe*Orlando, was hiredshortly after installation of the CCTV system had started. “Icame in after some of the CCTV equipment had already been put inplace,” said Lloyd. “One of my biggest areas of concernwas the high visibility of the property because of its proximity tothe convention center and all the hotels in the immediate area. Iwas also concerned with the fact that this is a late-nightentertainment complex. Because of that, we needed to design a CCTVsystem to keep both the patrons and the employees safe.
“Collectively, it was our intent to provide comprehensivecamera coverage for both the complex and parking garage,”continued Lloyd. “Our security plan called for providing asafe and secure shopping environment utilizing cameras with thecapability to simultaneously record every image. To accomplish thiseffectively, we decided to use a combination of color andblack-and-white cameras.
“Color cameras are employed to cover all perimeter accesspoints so that we can supply our guards with detailed descriptionsof what someone is wearing as they enter or leave theproperty,” said Lloyd. “The interior cameras for themost part, are all black-and-white and are used to identifyactivity. If there is a fight, or if someone is behavingsuspiciously, we can easily identify those actions usingblack-and-white cameras. With our color cameras on the perimeterand black-and-white cameras throughout the interior sections of thefacility, we get the best of both worlds. We have comprehensivecoverage using a fairly economical approach.”
In addition to monitoring the main concourses of Pointe*Orlando,cameras are employed to provide clear coverage of stairwells,delivery entry points and back areas. A color camera was also addedlate in the design stage to provide 360 degrees of coverage for anATM located off the main promenade of the complex.
According to Ken Theisen, Mavco’s Project Manager forPointe*Orlando, the type of construction posed several installationchallenges. The exterior walls and facades were fabricated usingdrywall with foam on top which made it difficult to mount equipmentand run cable. “All of the video lines and speaker cables areembedded in the structure and covered with concrete. So it’s kindof permanently attached to the building,” said Theisen.“Aside from the garage, no conduit was used. This eliminatedabout 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) of conduit. They elected to dothis for aesthetics and for cost considerations. As it turns out,they were able to budget more cameras with the money theysaved.”
The parking garage at Pointe*Orlando also presented a number ofchallenges for the CCTV design team. It’s a massive structure withfive floors and very low ceiling and includes numerous columns.“We’ve done other garages, but this one was so large and solong that we spent quite some time in the pre-design phase,”said Wyatt. “We finally decided to install the cameras in across-firing pattern. If you look down the main aisle in thegarage, you can see opposing cameras shooting at each other. Thisprovides very good coverage of high-traffic areas. In addition,five camera systems are installed on the roof level of the parkinggarage. The units provide complete coverage of the parking area andare also used to monitor some of the locations inside thecomplex.”
“We have a bicycle patrol in the garage and a footpatrol,” said Lloyd. “We have a lot of coverage in thegarage because that’s usually a facility’s primary source ofincidents. We have had very few incidents in the garage. Again, Iattribute it to the visibility of the cameras and ourpatrols.”
A satellite monitoring station is set up in the parking garageoffice. The CCTV system is used to help regulate traffic patternsand also allows the parking staff to assist security by reportingsuspicious activity that they may initially see at their monitoringstation. Because of the vast distances between the main controlroom and parking garage, Mavco designed the CCTV system using twoPanasonic Matrix System 500s. “Early on, we knew we weregoing to be using over 64 cameras,” said Lloyd. “Wealso knew we were going to have over 50 cameras in the garagealone. So we physically located one of the two Panasonic MatrixSystems in the garage instead of running 50 or so camera lines over780 feet (237.7 meters) back to the main control room — thatwould have been a very large bundle of cable.
“With Panasonic’s Matrix System 500, we have thecapability of running up to 3,000 feet (914.4 meters) between thecontroller and the matrix. As a result, we decided to put thecontroller in the main control room and leave the matrix in theparking garage office. So all the camera runs enter into the matrixin the garage and then are routed to the main control room througha handful of outputs. This configuration reduced our cable run byapproximately 80%. It was a very efficient way to use thehardware.”
The main control room at Pointe*Orlando is manned 24 hours aday, seven days a week. Two Panasonic WV-CU550A controllers on themain console provide the facility’s security staff with completecontrol of the Panasonic unitized cameras and CCD cameras. All ofthe cameras are recorded on Panasonic SVHS AG-6740 time lapserecorders and are viewed on a variety of monitors.
“We went with Panasonic’s top-of-the-line SVHS time-lapserecorders for their high resolution,” said Lloyd. “Therecording system is the weakest link in any security system. We’vegot at least 380 lines of resolution coming in from the cameras. Wedid not want to reduce the resolution down to 240 lines using VHSequipment; that would just be silly. We feel very strongly aboutrecording resolution. When you need to review a tape and have thatextra resolution, it’s critical for identification and generaldetail recognition.”
Late one night, the security officer on duty in the control roomwas “touring” the facility and noticed a small firesmoldering in a trash can adjacent to one of the restaurants.Security officers were immediately dispatched with fireextinguishers only to find that the small fire had rapidly spreadto a recently installed video monitor enclosure mounted on thebuilding. The security staff was able to contain the blaze whilewaiting for the fire department. The early detection provided bythe CCTV system allowed Pointe*Orlando’s security guards to quicklypinpoint and react to the problem, averting potential large-scaledestruction.
“The system is like having 90 additional pairs of eyes onpatrol because it is designed to see so much,” said Lloyd.“The security staff really likes the CCTV system because theyuse it to follow people all around the center. We have about 90%coverage of the complex. We find lost kids and reunite husbands andwives that have gotten separated while shopping. It’s a greatservice to provide our patrons, above and beyond the securitybenefits.
“We knew it was the right choice,” Lloyd continued.“Panasonic CCTV equipment minimizes our service calls, whichallows us to confidently offer extended warranties on the productsand the installation. The last thing a client wants is for theirsecurity to be compromised, and we do not want to have to makerepeated service calls,” Wyatt added.
“I’ve been very pleased with the performance of thesystem,” Lloyd concluded. “It was Mavco’srecommendation. We relied on our vendor to supply us with qualitymerchandise, and I’ve been happy to date.”
Frank Abram is the general manager at Panasonic Security SystemsGroup. For more information about Panasonic’s CCTV products, visitwww.panasonic.com or circle246 on Reader Service Card.