Dallmeier has installed a high-tech video surveillance solution at Britain’s largest casino, the Aspers Westfield Stratford City Casino. We talked to David Livermore, Group Security and Surveillance Manager for the Aspers Casino Group, and James Walker, Managing Director at Dallmeier electronic UK, about this exciting project.
Mr. Livermore, could you tell us a little bit about the casino?
David Livermore: The Aspers Westfield Stratford City Casino opened in December 2011, in the heart of East London. The Casino currently has 50 gaming tables, 150 gaming machines, 100 electronic gaming terminals, a large sports bar with sports betting as well as a restaurant and a fabulous Sky Bar with views over the 2012 Olympic park. The casino has been such a success that since opening we have expanded the operation to 60 gaming tables and installed 30 more electronic terminals with a huge poker room. After the Olympics we will be expanding again into an area that has begun its fit out and which will make us one of the largest casinos in Europe.
Would you describe the video surveillance system for the casino?
David Livermore: At this moment our video security system is the largest system of its kind ever to be installed in a casino in the UK. It was developed in collaboration with Dallmeier. We have three control stations as well as a large video wall and a supervisor station. We currently employ 38 security officers and 12 surveillance staff members, and, in addition, one Surveillance Supervisor and one Security Supervisor.
What areas are being monitored?
David Livermore: Of course, the main focus is on the gaming area, specifically the gaming tables and the various gaming machines and gaming terminals as well as an operational review station. The video system is an indispensable tool when it comes to quickly and unequivocally resolving arguments or ambiguous situations as well as fraud detection and incident control. The video installation also helps us keep a close track on the cash with extensive coverage of the cashiers’ areas. We also monitor hospitality areas for general security as well as the cash tills. Compliance is also a major issue in casinos and the entrances are carefully monitored along with external and back of house areas.
Why was Dallmeier selected?
David Livermore: We decided in favour of Dallmeier, as the state-of-the-art SeMSy system is both innovative and one of the user-friendliest systems on the market. We have chosen the product specifically for its user-friendly interface, its intuitive operation and the recognised after sales service.
For many years now, Dallmeier has been working very closely with Casino Surveillance Directors around the world. The experience that they have gained is essential to understand the particularly demanding requirements of casino surveillance and the challenges of obtaining clear close up images on gaming tables as well as perfect overviews for identification and the demands of a 24 hour operation. Dallmeier is well versed in these requirements and expectations and has had a good track record in some of the largest casinos in the world in Australia and Macau with huge installations. I am also keen to move forward with Dallmeier in the area of integration and this will be our aim over the next twelve months.
Mr. Walker, could you tell us more about the SeMSy management system?
James Walker: SeMSy III is a high-performance and future-proof video management system with highest reliability, achieved through an elaborate redundancy concept. It offers a comprehensive range of functions, including the display of live images, various search options within the footage, the control of PTZ cameras and an easy archiving of relevant sequences.
One of the main highlights of SeMSy is its flexibility. SeMSy III is modular in its structure, which means that the user can easily move the modules around and create a graphical interface that exactly fits his specific requirements. And flexibility from a technical point of view: SeMSy III offers a lot of integration possibilities, especially with regards to HD or even higher resolutions, like our new Panomera multifocal sensor system, and with regards to third-party systems that casinos want to integrate in their surveillance system.
Could you give us more details on the “redundancy concept” mentioned earlier?
James Walker: On the one hand we offer “storage redundancy”, i.e. the availability of recorded footage, which can be achieved through mirrored recording on two hard disk drives. According to the casino’s needs, different redundancy levels can be obtained, e.g. in the Aspers Casino we’re using RAID 5.
On the other hand we have “recording and system redundancy”, i.e. the functionality and accessibility of the surveillance system. An elaborate redundancy concept is an integral part of our Security Management System SeMSy. Let me shortly explain this: Every SeMSy Main Server manages up to 1500 cameras/encoders. Every Main Server can be linked to a Standby Server, which takes over the management, if the Main Server should fail. In the unlikely case that both the Main Server and the Standby Server should fail, the SeMSy Workstation uses the locally mirrored database, to ensure continuous operation, like camera switching or PTZ control.
Where are the camera images recorded?
James Walker: The cameras’ pictures are recorded on several DMX 1600 Smatrix. The Smatrix is a hybrid VideoIP appliance with integrated storage system. It is characterised by its space-saving design as well as by its low power consumption and low thermal output. It is ideally suited for applications requiring high-speed recording, expanded storage capacity and low power consumption while ensuring maximum security – in other words, ideal for use in the Aspers Westfield Stratford City Casino.
David Livermore: Yes, looking at a green solution was part of our brief and inside the Olympic area it was a priority. Not only are we decreasing our carbon footprint by choosing the Smatrix appliance, as opposed to a more traditional DVR and RAID 5 solution, but we are also making savings on space, air conditioning and electricity while we do it. This made the choice of supplier very easy.
What happens if the casino converts to new technologies or expands operations in the future?
James Walker: At Dallmeier, we have always been relying on an open system architecture, which means that our solutions are flexible regarding future changes and technologies. Moreover, recorders from previous generations for example can easily be used in mixed operation with our latest recording devices, or analogue cameras together with HD cameras. This is a huge financial benefit for the customer, because an existing system does not have to be replaced completely but can simply be expanded. We call this a modular principle. Through the high flexibility of that concept expansions are easy and straightforward. It does not matter whether it is about hardware or software components, the modular design keeps the system open to new technologies and possibilities at any time.
This principle has also already proved itself for the Aspers Westfield Stratford City Casino: due to the success of the casino, the CCTV system is currently undergoing its fourth expansion!