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Casino Rebuilds With Robust AV

Deftly staying afloat amid the aftermath of Katrina, a New Orleans systems integrator works quickly to build a sprawling surveillance system for a rebuilding casino.

CHALLENGE: Build robust camera surveillance and command & control systems on a short timeline.

SOLUTION: Pre-assemble and wire major componentsin-house to help coordinate among parts and vendors more quickly and efficiently.

AS CHALLENGES GO, just keeping its business operational was tough enough for New Orleans-based Interstate Electronic Systems (IES) last year.

But keeping its head above water during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina paid off nicely in the end for the systems integration company, which specializes in building camera surveillance systems for large facilities such as college campuses and airports.

In fact, with business doubling for the firm amid the rebuilding of the Gulf Region, the firm has seen doors open to new markets that were previously unavailable to it.

For example, the company was recently brought in to handle a $2 million camera surveillance and command & control project for the newly rebuilt Boomtown Casino in Biloxi, MS, one of several floating gambling meccas that were destroyed when Katrina's wrath reached up into the Mississippi Gulf region.

It was a unique business opportunity for IES because casinos like Boomtown typically contract out such surveillance work to integration firms that specialize in closed-circuit camera systems specific to gaming centers. (And most of these companies are based in California and Nevada.)

In the Biloxi, Miss.-based Boomtown Casino's command and control center, surveillance staffers can view up to 45 images simultaneously from the 476 cameras scattered around the facility on a videowall consisting of three 60-inch Mitsubishi VS-60XT20U-AG XGA-resolution DLP cubes and a Jupiter 980 display wall processor.

“It's kind of been a double-edged sword,” says Lloyd Francioni, managing partner for IES. “Because of the hurricane, some of our work is gone. But other work has certainly picked up.”

Like lights on a Christmas tree

Like all casinos in the Mississippi Gulf region at the time, the Boomtown was mandated by state law to be on the water, floating on a barge. (Since Katrina, the Mississippi legislature has relaxed those laws a bit — casinos can now be built on the shoreline.)

The hurricane triggered massive swells that broke the Boomtown's barge loose from its moorings and sent it floating out into the bay. Strangely, the casino and the barge remained tethered to the Boomtown's adjacent coastline administrative offices — the head-end for the surveillance system is located there — by the single cable that linked all of its old security cameras, an effect similar to pulling the lights off a Christmas tree.

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