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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.

All analog video images captured by the cameras are routed by a Pelco 9780 matrix switcher to the Jupiter display wall processor, as well as a Pelco Endura IP recording solution, which converts the analog video signals into digital and copies it to a Pelco RAID 5 storage farm. This server system —which was furnished by IT distributor CDW — features more than 400 hard drives capable of storing up to 170 Terabytes of data.

The entire surveillance system is controlled with a custom-designed user interface, created in Version 4 of 360 Surveillance's Cameleon software, which ties individual software management for components such as the cameras and the videowall into one graphical user interface (GUI).

“That interface is the glue that holds everything together and really minimizes the complexity of operating this system,” Francioni notes. “From an operator's perspective, you're only dealing with one system.”

All told, the addition of a videowall drove the cost of integrating the head-end room up about 15 percent higher than it would have been with a standard casino command & control install. “But it was a value thing rather than a cheapest price thing,” Francioni notes.

Not only did the videowall provide a solution that eliminated the clutter of having dozens of individual monitors scattered about, it provided casino surveillance staffers with a more aesthetically pleasing solution that enabled them to more precisely control their display environment.

Building this head-end system was also the toughest challenge for IES, given the project's short execution timeline. With Penn National officials anxious to get the Boomtown back online, the integrator had to be in and out in 90 days, its work complete by the end of June.

“We pre-assembled the majority of the rack-mounted systems in New Orleans,” Francioni says. “We then broke it down, shrink-wrapped it, had everything delivered to the site, then re-assembled it. There's so much confusion at a site like that — there are far less distractions by doing it here at our own facility.”

The day after

Fortunately for IES, its Big Easy headquarters survived the ravages of Katrina with only a broken window. However, with the city flooded and largely evacuated — and a number of employees' homes destroyed — the company's biggest challenge was staying open and available for the coming influx of new business.

“My partners and I all evacuated to Houston,” Francioni explains. “And for the first few days after the storm, we literally operated the business from the dining room table at my brother-in-law's house. My partners lost their homes, and a number of employees lost theirs, too. We told everyone to take care of their personal business first, and if you can come to work, come to work. Nobody missed a paycheck.”

Once Francioni and his team had a chance to regroup, one of the first orders of business was to consolidate headquarters into the company's Baton Rouge, LA, satellite office, which was only shuttered for a day amid the calamity. The power at that facility remained out for some time, but IES purchased a generator to sustain operations. “We took 8,700 square feet of employees (in the headquarters office) and put them in 2,500 square feet in Baton Rouge,” Francioni says, noting that the company's server system was also migrated over to the building.

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