OMEGA is one of the Australian security
industry’s youngest video surveillance importers and it’s impossible not to
think of it as the one with the greatest untapped potential. If this
observation surprises, it’s worth considering the fact that through its parent
company Middendorp Electric, OMEGA has more than 85 branches and 415 staff.

OMEGA is one of three daughter companies
of Middy’s (as Middendorp Electric is known). The distinction between OMEGA and
Middy’s is a subtle but important one. OMEGA operates from offices and warehouses
in the 5 major states and supports primarily security electronics installers
and some electrical contractors wanting to buy video surveillance equipment.
Meanwhile, Middy’s operates from more than 85 premises primarily supporting the
electrical trade, including some security electronics installers. What’s
important here is that regardless of their respective market niches these
related wholesalers now carry the GSP range.

Clearly you can’t just throw a few CCTV
boxes at a big electrical wholesaler like Middy’s and call it an electronic
security wholesaler but Middy’s is a serious player and it’s serious about
supporting CCTV equipment – and that’s where this massive GSP installation
comes into our story. At Middy’s, OMEGA is overseeing the installation of an
integrated video surveillance system into every branch of its parent company –
an installation that provides not only much needed security, it also gives
Middy’s staff and customers a real, live integrated video surveillance solution
to play with.

It’s a smart piece of thinking from
Middy’s and from OMEGA’s marketing manager Aleks Stefanovic, who has been
building the OMEGA video surveillance business non-stop for the past 4 years.
Stefanovic is a classic electronic security convert. He got his first taste of
CCTV installing a surveillance system at his own property and he fleshed out
this experience sourcing, testing, analyzing and marketing CCTV products to the
electronic security market with OMEGA.

Stefanovic and his team display the sort
of grass roots comprehension that only comes from working at the sharp end.
Having felt out the market over the past 3-4 years, Stefanovic says a decision
was made to focus on the Korean-made GSP range. Like a lot of Korean gear, GSP
is well designed, well built and well supported by excellent software as well
as dedicated technical personnel available online in Korea.

“We believe the GSP range is better than
anything we have supplied before and it’s perfect for Middy’s as an end user
and for Middy’s customers as well,” Stefanovic says. “There’s a full range of
analogue cameras as well as a complete IP range, including PTZs, all with PoE.”

According to Stefanovic, the GSP range
will allow Middy’s to supply electrical contractors and installers a solution
that allows them to fully integrate their customers analog and IP systems
(including DVRs, IP cameras and IP servers) into one single video system using
the GSP Central Monitoring System.

“Clearly, you can’t just throw a few
CCTV boxes at a big electrical wholesaler like Middy’s and call it an
electronic security wholesaler but Middy’s is a serious player and it’s serious
about supporting CCTV equipment”

“The installation will be in every
Middy’s electrical wholesale store in Australia and serves 2 functions in each
location,” he explains. “It not only provides much needed security for the
stores and their high value items but it’s also an on-site demonstration system
for electricians, electrical contractors, security electronics installers and
integrators who visit Middy’s branches.”

According to Stevanovic, this Middy’s
installation is one of the largest in Australia.

“This is the single biggest CCTV upgrade
we know of in Australia geographically and one of the biggest in the country in
terms of camera numbers – there are more than 85 Middy’s branches with between 10
and 16 cameras in each branch – so this solution has more than 1100 potential
cameras to be installed and is completely centralized. There’s also local DVR
recording with backup if needed at Brunswick Head Office in Victoria.

The Middy’s installation

This is a big system but like any
networked solution it’s modular so to get a feel for the system at a local
level we visit Middy’s Laverton store. It’s immediately apparent the system has
become a focal point for staff and an object of interest for customers. The
branch’s spot monitor is part of a retail feature and certain cameras linked to
the system are clearly intended for comparative purposes.

“The philosophy of the staff was that
there be a camera behind the counter, a public monitor like a retail store but
with the system there for easy demonstration,” says Stefanovic. “Everything is
designed so customers can see it in operation and Middy’s sales staff can show
system features to customers very easily.”

While we’re poking around the simple and
intuitive GSP GQVR GUI, Middy’s sales people come over to listen and have their
say. All agree the GSP upgrade has been a major improvement that gives them a
better sales tool and a better surveillance system overall. There seems a
surprising level of ownership for the system in this branch.

It’s an ownership that extends from
supplier, to end user, to integrator, Hi-Five Solutions. The installation outfit’s
Gino Cuciniello, who project-managed the Middy’s installation, says a typical
Middy’s site has a DVR and between 10 and 16 cameras, with each branch having a
control node in a cabinet that comprises a DVR and related equipment.

“Some of the Middy’s sites are very
similar though some of the country branches are pretty much a large colourbond
shed,” Cuciniello says.

“The installation has gone from fitting
out new branches to retrofitting old branches. Some of these have been Middy’s
branches for 70 years – one branch used to be a church – so there’s variety.”

Cuciniello says Hi-Five Solutions
installed the original systems at some of the Middy’s branches 3 years ago.

“Importantly from an installation point
of view we’ve been able to use some of the existing cabling as we’ve done the
upgrade,” Cuciniello says. “Essentially we are upgrading all the original DVRs
with GSP DVRs and all the cameras with GSP cameras – as well as putting in new
cable and cameras if the system’s being expanded at any site.”

According to Cuciniello, the
installation teams have used a combination cable that incorporates RG-59 and
figure-8 so that analogue can be used but the site is also cabled for Cat-6 to
all camera points should it be needed in the future.

“This combination cable which comprises
RG-59 and Cat-6 Figure-8 was developed by OMEGA and Gino for use in electronic
security installions,” Cuciniello says.

“It’s jacketed in yellow – the idea
being that installers and electricians will know the yellow cable is video and
keep power away from it. 

“Obviously at the Middy’s sites power
needed to be kept segregated and we had the usual problems with electricians
wanting to run power cables adjacent to our camera cables,” Cuciniello says.

“In warehouse locations power is often a
problem because there are fewer cable paths and everyone wants to the shortest
one. It doesn’t matter how many times you say it some one will try to run power
in the most direct way even if it’s alongside sensitive CCTV cables.”

Cuciniello says the installation teams
didn’t need any amplification with Middy’s cable runs.

“When cameras are installed with UTP
converters we get 200m without a problem – UTP is a brilliant cabling
solution.”

Cuciniello says there’s a mixture of
internal domes and IP-rated vandalproof domes, with full body cameras with a
good FUJINON lenses being used for license plate recognition.

“The vandalproof domes are great,”
Cuciniello says, “People do attack cameras regularly and the vandal domes are
tough enough to be installed in difficult locations where cameras have to be
installed where they will be in reach – sometimes you just can’t avoid it.”

Cuciniello says Hi-Five Solutions used
the standard camera lenses and he says they offer good performance.

“The cameras at Middy’s are recorded at
6-8 frames on motion and that gives recording for a couple of weeks,” says
Cuciniello. “The remote user interface in the branches is straightforward and
easy to set up – camera functions and search functions are easy to operate.

“Authorised users can adjust camera
setups including inputs, outputs, performance and sensitivity settings, PTZ
tours, alarms and resolution. There’s also motion sensitivity. Set up is very
straightforward and custom settings can be applied to groups of 5 DVRs simultaneously.
It’s nice and easy – similar software to a PC – it’s very simple.”

According to Cuciniello, the GQVR has 4 spot
monitor outputs and 2 general monitor outputs and that’s a handy feature as
most DVRs only give users 2 monitor outputs. In environments like Middy’s
stores this functionality allows one or two spot monitors to be located on the
shop floor near the counter or the entry, with another couple of monitors in
the office for live monitoring and viewing of recordings simultaneously. The spot
output can be used for activation on motion as well.

Running an embedded Linux OS, the GQVR
has 3 HDD bays, 16-inputs, a programmable matrix, 4 spot monitor outputs,
playback of 720 x 576 at 100fps or 720 at 288 giving 200ips, MPEG-4 or MJPEG
compression, 4 USB ports, 4-channel audio, hidden camera function, DVD-RW, jog
shuttle control, mouse control and plenty more. In terms of storage, each of
the GQVR’s in Middy’s branches packs 1TB HDDs with capacity for another 2TB.

Depending on your needs the GQVR offers
400 frames at 2 CIF live, which is excellent performance at this price point.
Of course, if you can manage with a reduced frame rate then it’s possible to
get 4CIF. And given all this, each camera can be programmed to make the most of
the available frame rate and resolution.

Middy’s sales manager for security and
data, Joe DiSanto says the Middy’s and OMEGA teams have learned as the
installation has progressed, from the point of view of wholesaler and end
user. 

“We’ve learned as we’ve gone along with
this installation,” Joe says. “There are certain areas that we didn’t
originally realize are important to Middy’s that we didn’t cover with the first
installation and this upgrade has given us a chance to cover those areas.

“It’s been a good learning process not
just with Middy’s own cameras but in terms of being able to help our own
customers in the future with challenges that apply to them and to us.”

Joe says an area of particular concern
for Middy’s as a distribution business is the packing area.

“While we’re poking around the simple
and intuitive GSP GQVR GUI, Middy’s sales people come over to listen and have
their say. All agree the GSP upgrade has been a major improvement that gives
them a better sales tool and a better surveillance system overall”

“Middy’s has had issues for 80 years
with packing a box and sending it out only to be informed by the client that
the item is missing on arrival,” Joe says.

“The CCTV system now allows Middy’s to
verify the correct item was packed and has been sent – Middy’s can then
investigate further having eliminated a problem with packing as the source of
the problem.”

Meanwhile, Stefanovic says one of the
challenges of the installation was the geographical size of the system and the
complexity of deciding how many contractors to work with.

“Do you have a single contractor who
knows the product and how we work or do you go for local companies and have the
challenge of disseminating information and training to a dozen different
organisations?” he asks.

“It’s interesting as a CCTV distributor to
be an end user having to make these kinds of decisions. Middy’s decided that
the best thing would be to use a single integrator to handle the entire
solution,” says Stefanovic.

“Hi-Five Solutions was familiar with the
sites, does a good job, takes responsibility, does not charge like a wounded
bull and is technically savvy – Hi-Five Solutions is one of the good ones and
they were the right choice for the Middy’s upgrade.”

Central management system

After checking out an installation in a
store in the Middy’s system, our next stop is the Middy’s regional office at
Mulgrave, a site that incorporates a Middy’s store as well as the ElecVision
showroom. Like OMEGA, ElecVision is a daughter company of Middy’s with a focus on
highlighting new technologies.

“ElecVision is a technology centre –
it’s designed to help electricians see beyond the standard mains cabling,
lighting and power points,” says Joe. “Here, electricians can see all Middy’s
advanced technologies working together – including the GSP range installed
here.”

It’s an installation that underscores
Middy’s commercial intent as much as it shows off the capability of GSP’s
cameras and CMS software. And the fact there’s a fully operational GQVR in both
the ElecVision showroom and round the corner of the building in the Middy’s
wholesale store only serves to highlight the power of this integrated solution.

The need to comprehend the Middy’s
installation as both security system and demonstration unit goes up a notch
here. The system in the showroom is deliberately more comprehensive,
incorporating IP cameras, IP servers and CMS, all incorporated into an
impressive display.

Here you can see the GSP system is an
unashamed hybrid solution that mirrors the technical state of the video
surveillance industry. But while the term ‘hybrid’ might make you think of a
system that’s neither here nor there, this solution has one important
difference. It’s GSP’s Central Monitoring Software.

According to Stefanovic, the CMS that
forms the heart of the Middy’s system is a tough and flexible Windows-based
system, which allows the connection of any number of DVRs, servers and IP
cameras on a single network. All these devices and systems can be fully
controlled through the network and all system functionality is available
locally and remotely to authorized users.

“The CMS looks at the system elements at
Middy’s and blends them into a seamless whole,” says Stefanovic. “From an
installation perspective you tell the system if the device is a camera or a
server or a DVR during set up and the system recognizes the device and allows
seamless control of it over a network. It’s a perfect solution for a network of
stores like Middy’s’, which has analogue cameras, DVRs, and IP cameras and IP
servers.

“With GSP’s CMS, a geographical map is
used as an entry portal and you click on locations and drill down to each
site’s CMS,” Stefanovic says. “You get all the expected flexibility, including
live monitoring, recording, remote searches and event logs simultaneously.
There’s real time recording from DVRs, servers and IP cameras, or you can back
up recordings from remote DVRs manually or via a dedicated schedule.

“Important for any networked system,
Middy’s GSP CMS allows network health checks including network status, HDD
status, events, motion detection, video loss, recording on/off and more. All
this functionality is mirrored at the local site for authorized local users of
that local DVR.”

Stefanovic says managing the system is
as easy with drag and drop cameras to monitors, digital zooms, PTZ control,
real time recording of any images to any local PC or drive, and scheduled
recording on the basis of inputs or scheduling rules. Search is super easy too
and is handled by a calendar and time table, while motion detection can
generate recording automatically, with emails sent containing recordings of the
alarm events.

As Stefanovic explains, a GSP CCTV
network is best thought of as a comms cloud that comprises local 2-pair or
coaxial cabling, local LANs, private or public WANS and the CMS itself. The GSP
cloud goes further than that, however, because it ties in serial inputs and
outputs (485 or 422) allowing monitoring or doors, gates, sensors or other
NO/NC functions.

“In terms of the system architecture,
cameras in the field are cabled to DVRs using RG-59, or twisted pair, with IP
cameras arriving at centralized racks and getting onto the network through the
network switch, while analogue cameras get converted via GSP IP servers if an
analogue-to-IP conversion is all that is required. This is much more cost
effective than replacing the analogue camera with a full IP model,” he says.

“The nature of this installation is
special – it’s a security system and it’s an educational tool designed to
showcase GSP’s CCTV range,” he says. “To achieve this, each local branch
combines a wide range of camera options from analog to IP, from vandal proof
domes to full-body fixed cameras optioned for number plate recognition.

“The system at the regional office
includes DVR, IP server and IP cameras as well as analog cameras and it’s
designed for both monitoring and as a sales tool with the hardware setup in the
showroom,” he says.

And unlike the smaller branches, this
regional office incorporates a running CMS to allow management of Middy’s
remote DVRs – you can control PTZ cameras, monitors, you can control search all
the way to the jog function all remotely using the CMS.

It’s not just viewing and controlling
the system, Stefanovic explains. It’s also possible to program a whole remote
DVR from a central location using the CMS – installers can not only drive the
system but see how easy it is to install and integrate it.

Stefanovic says firmware upgrades can be
handled remotely – as can management and control of all the IP elements of the
site remotely.

“You can reboot cameras, initialize them
and then upgrade firmware,” he explains.

Seeing the Central Management System in
operation gives a greater sense of its power. At the regional office maps of Australia and Victoria has been loaded into the system and
when operators click on a location on the map the site they’re intending to
view pops up as control GUI. Alarm events automatically pop up as windows on
the main screen. The control GUI allows full management of the remote DVR seamlessly
as if you at the branch – you’re not clumping through a root directory.

At ElecVision you get a good look at
GSP’s IP range, with a number of IP domes linked into the site’s own system.
Watching Stefanovic drive the IP cameras through the CMS you can feel the depth
of functionality including compression selection (MPEG-4 or JPEG), resolution
settings, presets, masks, onscreen displays, brightness, contrast, backlight,
audio (including the onboard speaker). You can also configure serial and
digital I/Os and time and dates – with all this being password protected.

During the demonstration, the 36x GSP IP
PTZ with WDR and Day/Night capabilities is a revelation. Installed near the
main door the camera is handling the dim atmospheric lighting in the showroom
as well as dealing with the stronger light pouring in through the main
entrance. Images on the LCD screen are excellent, depth of field outstanding
and functionality straightforward.

Something that’s very neat is the
ability to use the mouse to drive the PTZ around a scene. You put the curser on
an individual or vehicle and follow the person with the curser all the way
through a target area – it’s super intuitive. These GSP IP PTZ are highly
optioned – with that 36x optical, as well as 10x times digital, 540TVline, WDR,
Day/Night and superfast 500 degrees per second preset speeds.

“The GSP (Global Security Products)
range we’ve installed at Middy’s really is perfect – it’s well designed and
well made – the quality of all the components is excellent and it’s easy to
install,” says Stefanovic. “It’s a top quality Korean brand with features that
are market leading.” 

A dual role

Just as OMEGA and Middy’s intended, it’s
difficult to extricate the Middy’s GSP surveillance system from it’s second
function as a powerful showroom demonstration tool.

“From a sales perspective, we’re working
to diversify the Middy’s business with the addition of video, biometrics,
intelligent lighting and automation,” says Joe. “Most the technologies we want
our customers to get into we’ve got here on display in this centre.

“Electrical contractors need to be
convinced to get into video surveillance but we are finding as things slow up
there’s increased interest particularly from Gen Y techs who are into anything
that opens and shuts,” he says.

“Looking at the people coming through
this centre the people now coming through are people in their 20s up to the age
of 30 and they’re not coming through alone, they’re bringing their customers
with them.”

“Importantly, having the product in the
branches has taught our staff more about video surveillance, it’s got them
talking to our customers about CCTV and that has had a flow-on effect. There
are a lot more enquiries about CCTV.

“We also have security installers coming
through to buy cable and duct, and with this range we think we have plenty to
offer – the product range is excellent and the way things are set up an
installer can come in, play with a system – bring their customer in – make sure
the system meets their requirements – working with an actual working solution,”
Joe says. “They can also buy anything they need for an installation.”

Another key plank of the Middy’s
installation is training of sales staff in video surveillance.

“The Middy’s training centre is at TechVision
at Burwood in Melbourne,” Joe says. “All the GSP products are set up and during
training staff learn programming and all system management required to drive
the products. During 2009 all 415 Middy’s staff will go through the TechVision
training centre.

“Obviously we’re not trying to make them
installers but we want them to be able to intelligently discuss products in our
range with installers – to explain how how they work and how they fit
together.”

Joe says the promotion aspects are a
vital element of this installation.

“This range is installer friendly, we
know it works, we have it in our branches, and we and our branch staff
understand it – that shows we have confidence in the product – you can see how
serious we are.

“There’s also a huge spread of branches
so we have a branch close to many security installers as well as to our
electrical customers. If you think about it – more than 85 branches – that’s a
lot.”

“We find this GSP range to be an
excellent one – the specifications are superb at this price point. We know
where we are in the market and the sales team is fully equipped,” he explains.

Stefanovic says that a key element of
the Middy’s distribution model is centralized support of CCTV systems with
electrical engineers working as tech support within OMEGA. A centralized 1800
633 620 contact allows techs to get information about programming DVRs up to
full design and quoting of the job.

“Our tech support team has done full IP
installations in support of installers,” he says. “The installer has put the
cameras in, then called up and given tech support the IP addresses and the
engineer(s) have logged in and completed the setup – that’s how far we’ll go.

“Our external sales team also helps with
installation and commissioning. This is needed in most cases with new customers
or diversifying electricians. The support is there from both the OMEGA and
Middy’s internal and external sales teams.”

“The need to comprehend the Middy’s
installation as both security system and demonstration unit goes up a notch
here. The system at this regional branch is more comprehensive, incorporating
IP cameras, IP servers and CMS, all incorporated into an impressive display in
the ElecVision showroom”

According to Stefanovic, while it will
take some time for all the branches to be fully stocked up with the GSP
products, the entire range is delivered quickly and efficiently to any of more
than 85 outlets across Australia.

“The major benefit to the security market
is that Middy’s offers the largest and most comprehensive distribution channel
of GSP and all other OMEGA products in Australia,” he says.

A Certified Security Integrator program
has also just been launched that gives installers discounts and rebates based
on their level of support for the product. There’s bronze, silver, gold and
platinum levels and the idea is that OMEGA give something back to installers
for their support.

The CSI is actively assessed and OMEGA
sends technicians out onto sites to assess work before installers can qualify
for the different levels, in order to ensure the certification has meaning for
tech as well as end users. The CSI program was launch in 2009 with an Online
Promotion add can been seen in the surrent SEM edition.

As Stefanovic explains, the installation
and its dual use as an actual surveillance system in a massive branch network,
as well as a demonstration tool for customers represents a huge litmus test for
the GSP range.

“Having these GSP systems in all Middy’s
branches means sales teams hear tech’s reactions to the product as well as
being able to form their own opinions based on experience with the system’s
actual operational capability,” he says. 

“In its size, scope and vision, we think
this integrated GSP CCTV solution at Middy’s is a real achievement.” 

“In warehouse locations power is often a problem
because there are fewer cable paths and everyone wants to the shortest one. It
doesn’t matter how many times you say it someone will try to run power in the
most direct way even if it’s alongside sensitive CCTV cables”