“I’ve not noticed
any impact on network performance. The cameras are capable of buffering in the
event there’s too much network load but the way the system is set up at Canada
Bay, that’s not an issue”

IP video
surveillance isn’t new technology. But what is new about the solution Austco IP
has installed at Canada Bay Club in Sydney is that it’s megapixel video that
actually works. No processor freezing, no blue screens and no network dummy
spits.

Mobotix cameras
all offer a maximum resolution of 3 megapixels and at Canada Bay Club most
cameras are running at around 1.5 megapixels and 15 frames per second. But
don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s no network load. There are 88
megapixel cameras at Canada Bay Club with all recording on movement – and this
is a busy club.

With 55 staff and
an overall area of 8000 square metres – including the carpark, this is a major
operation. The venue has 2 restaurants – a brassiere that seats 260 and a
Chinese restaurant upstairs seating 235 people. There are also 2 function rooms
and an auditorium upstairs. With 14,300 members, the club is patronised by 425
members and 125 visitors on a typical day – many times more on weekends.

“In the carpark
are 6 Mobotix IP-66 rated M12 cameras supported by mercury vapour luminaries.
This is a substantial carpark to be handled by only 6 cameras but these Mobotix
cameras have excellent depth of field”

Access to the
surveillance system is restricted to management, with some

cameras assigned
to the reception desk for after hours monitoring of customer and staff
carparks. This means that like a lot of medium sized CCTV installations,
there’s no need for live monitoring on all inputs.

As Canada Bay
Club’s operations manager Adam Lewis explains, before the upgrade to Mobotix,
the site was making do with an old analogue system.

“The former
system was a mixed bag that incorporated a range of different products,” Lewis
says. “The legacy gear was between 8 and 10 years old and it had run its race.
Some channels in the DVR weren’t working, some cameras weren’t working – we
needed an upgrade.

“The focus of the
Canada Bay Club CCTV system is employee and customer safety,” Lewis explains.
“The system is designed to deter crime and to assist police with
investigations. This focus meant that performance and expandability were very
important to us and with this in mind we started looking at options.”

Lewis says he was
dealing with Derek Priest and Andrew Bullman at Austco IP when reviewing the
proposals for the upgrading of their analogue CCTV System.

“We were looking
at some analogue systems initially but Andrew also mentioned Mobotix as an
example of another technology that was available,” he explains. “For safety
reasons we wanted the absolute best possible images from our system – that made
the high performance of Mobotix very appealing.”

According to
Lewis, when Austco IP showed him the Mobotix system he was seriously impressed.

“It all just
snowballed from this point forward,” Lewis says. “I obtained different quotes
from different people and Mobotix was the way the management and board wanted
to go.”

Central to Lewis’
decision was the fact the new system would leverage Canada Bay’s excellent
network infrastructure.

“Our network
infrastructure is now quite extensive,” Lewis says. “We’ve upgraded our
administrative network with fibre, installed fibre in other areas and our POS
networks, our internal advertising, our massive gaming network and our admin
network all go through our fire wall.

“It’s pretty
intense and I thought I might as well capitalise on the strength of this
networking power and the fact Mobotix IP video technology is available,” he
explains.

“It’s the
flexibility of the Mobotix gear that’s so convenient. As the operations manager
I have secure VPN access to the Club’s network and with Mobotix that includes
the entire CCTV system as well – remote access is very useful to myself and the
club’s CEO.

“The other great
benefit with Mobotix is that it’s future proof. Looking ahead there’s so much
we can do,” says Lewis. We can use the system to open doors, integrate
intercoms and VoIP – there are all sorts of different things which I’ll slowly
introduce in different areas.”

Lewis says the
installation might have been a little cheaper using analog but he there’s far
more to this Mobotix system than there is to analog.

“I also like the
fact that there are free upgrades to viewing software, more importantly there
are free firmware uploads for the camera – you upload the upgrade to a master
camera and upgrades are propagated across the entire network,” he explains.

Canada Bay Club’s
system

According to
Lewis, the system is built like any network, with devices getting onto the LAN
at local network switches for transmission to switches in a central
communications room that allow local and remote access, and storage.

“In particular
locations Austco IP has installed 24-port PoE network switch – they’re off the
shelf D-Link units,” says Lewis. “The link between the network switch and
cameras is Cat-6 and typically the camera cabling travels about 20 or 30 metres
to the local switch.

“From the switch
there’s a single Cat-6 cable that goes to a switch in the comms room and to a
recording device – a NAS. The NAS units are in a rack in our communications
room,” he explains.

“I decided on the
comms room because it’s secure, it’s air conditioned – all the other network
equipment including the UPS is in the same secure location. Just as an example,
in one of our comms locations there are 8 3TB iOmega NAS drives acting as file
servers.”

“In the face of
the oncoming car’s headlights we can clearly see numberplates and more amazing
still, the faces of drivers sitting behind the wheel”

Lewis says that
while the Mobotix cameras are installed throughout the venue on their own data
network, when management is viewing recorded images or live footage from
workstations, they are calling up that footage on the club’s administration
network.

“Despite this
I’ve not noticed any impact on network performance. The cameras are capable of
buffering in the event there’s too much network load but the way the system is
set up at Canada Bay, that’s not an issue.

“If you’re
concerned about an area in terms of the resolution of the image being stored or
the amount of available storage space it’s simple to direct cameras to
different storage locations if required,” Lewis explains.

“Cameras are
recorded on the basis of motion and management can retrieve any images they
want from the administration network. Additionally, because the image streams
are passing through the firewall I can access them from anywhere I want. I can
view recordings or watch live footage and even though image streams are passing
through our firewall the video is perfectly clean.”

The Canada Bay
Club site is not without its challenges. This is a big site and the need to
provide staff and patrons with a safe and secure environment extends to the
adjacent carpark.

“A hurdle for the
club’s CCTV system is that our main carpark is on the other side of a public
road and there are no trenched communications,” says Lewis.

In this carpark
are 6 Mobotix IP-66 rated M12 cameras supported by mercury vapour luminaries.
This is a substantial carpark to be handled by only 6 cameras but these Mobotix
cameras have excellent depth of field. The cameras are cabled on Cat-6 via the
lighting pits and trenches to a remote building for storage and transmission to
the main building.

“Rather than
digging up the road and laying cables we chose a Motorola wireless link – we
send all the live data from carpark cameras over to the main building but
there’s RAID 5 storage there to ensure redundancy and UPS support, too.

“Carpark
surveillance is important – it means management and reception staff can keep an
eye on patrons leaving the club at night. This functionality was very important
because I have reception staff at the front desk late at night,” Lewis says.

“We have 2
screens for reception staff and they’ve got a microphone and speaker there that
we’re setting up so they will be able to communicate via the cameras should we
choose to go down this path – that’s a really good feature.”

“To be able to
communicate with staff, patrons or intruders as well as to see them is
important,’ he explains. “They can ask people to move away from the area so
it’s a good solution – that was one of the things that attracted me to Mobotix
in the first place.”

Lewis says
there’s significant expansion planned for the Canada Bay Club CCTV system.

“I’m looking at
another 11 cameras for different things – including an onboard camera for a
courtesy bus we’re buying,” Lewis explains. “The way I plan to use the mobile
camera is to leverage its onboard storage with the footage overwritten when the
memory fills up.”

Lewis says such
an application is possible thanks to the 360 or 180-degree images delivered by
the Mobotix Q22.

”The Q22 image is
amazing in that it can be used to show a range of images – it’s like Google
Earth – you can peer right into an image, the fish eye look disappears and you
are inside the scene – the performance is exceptional and ideal for use on our
bus.

“A single Q22 can
record 360 degrees giving coverage of multiple targets so on the courtesy bus
it could show passengers on the bus, passengers entering the bus, the driver,
the road in front of the bus – all from one camera,” Lewis says. “With analogue
this installation would be much more complicated and expensive.

“In terms of
supporting the camera I did think of onboard hard drives and wireless access
points to download footage but ultimately the easiest way to handle things is
to record by movement, store images onboard to SD card and remove the card for
investigation should the need arise – it’s an elegant solution.

“The key thing is
that the cost of adding to the system is very low. The Cat-6 cabling is already
there, it’s just plugging it into a switch and getting a NAS drive or something
else to record it on. Expansion costs are very minimal – it’s just blue cable
to the PoE camera from the switches.”

Lewis says the
Club has a 5kVa UPS on site that looks after the entire CCTV network including
the cameras.

“It’s driving 9
NAS units as well as the network switches that are spread around the building
and it’s supporting the wireless link to the carpark.”

Of course
flexibility and functionality are nice to have in a video surveillance solution
but ultimately it’s the operational performance that is the defining feature of
a system.

“Most important
with this system, performance at the manager’s desk is really good – given the
complex network path the video streams are taking, performance is excellent,”
Lewis explains.

“Depth of field
is exceptional and while playback is where many systems fall down, Mobotix and
MX Controller are different. Playback quality is great – it’s hard to tell the
difference between real time and playback,” Lewis says.

“I can’t fault
the system. The Mobotix cameras give us great functionality – the cameras have
PIR sensors in them and in event mode they detect and record on motion,” he
says. “There’s 2-way communications and the system can email images to a PC or
a mobile phone – it’s got everything we need.”

“I would say that
at least 3 times a day there’s cause for the management team to access the CCTV
system – it’s that integral a part of the Canada Bay Club.”

Lewis’ praise of
the system is borne out as we poke around the Canada Bay Club system on one of
the CCTV workstations. Viewing is via four 30-inch Samsung LCD monitors. As we
move through the site many of the meeting areas and the auditorium have their
lights off but camera performance through the gloom is surprisingly strong. In
other locations something that’s equally impressive is the way a single Mobotix
megapixel camera can cover an entire room.

At one point
Lewis calls up cameras on his i-Phone and the system’s real world performance
is excellent, with good scene clarity, depth of field and frame rate readily
apparent. Watching a network savvy end user driving an IP CCTV solution on a
handheld gives a strong impression of how all surveillance systems will operate
in the future. 

Lewis, Bullman
and Priest and all keen to dig up some night footage of the carpark entrance
where a camera is located to identify license plates as vehicles leave the
driveway. Once they find the images from the night before it’s easy to see what
they’re so pleased about.

The camera is
about 30-40 metres from the oncoming vehicles and is supported by ordinary low
pressure sodium streetlights. With this measly assistance and in the face of
the oncoming car’s headlights we can clearly see numberplates and more amazing
still, the faces of drivers sitting behind the wheel.

“Consider that
these images are taking the long way around, passing along Cat-6 to a switch in
a building over the road – up through a wireless link, across the facility,
through a firewall, in through the administration network and then down to this
workstation,” Lewis says. “And the picture is still excellent.”

The installation

Something that’s
noteworthy with Mobotix installations is the level of excitement they seem to
create – not just with end users but with integrators. Words like ‘amazing’ and
‘unbelievable’ fly fast when the cable tuggers get talking about their Mobotix
projects.

Austco IP’s
hands-on managing director, Andrew Bullman, is no exception.

“This system is
just amazing,” Bullman enthuses. “Because the cameras and switches are so good
it’s unbelievable how fast the system functions yet we have never had any problems
with bandwidth, despite relatively high camera numbers and the high frame rates
and resolutions at which we’re storing image streams.”

According to
Bullman, Austco IP has installed 3 camera types at Canada Bay Club.

“Inside we’ve
gone with the D22, which is a megapixel, single lens dome camera,” he explains.
“Externally we have the twin-lens IP65 rated M12 camera which is the one that
allows us two-way intercom communication using VoIP and has a day/night lens.

“We have also
started installing the Q22 camera to infill some of the areas using its 360 or
180-degree views,” Bullman says. “At the time this system was designed the Q22
camera wasn’t available or we would have specified the camera then – it’s just
that good.

“The beauty of
the Q22 camera is that it ensures we won’t miss some areas,” he explains. “In
fact if the Q22 was around earlier we probably would have put less cameras in –
it does the job of multiple cameras.”

Bullman says each
of the 3 types of Mobotix megapixel cameras has one of three lens types.

“There’s the 22mm
which is equivalent to say a 4 mm lens on an ordinary analogue camera, then
you’ve got the 43mm which is equiv to an 8mm lens. Finally, there’s the 135mm
which is like the 79s,” he explains. “Then you’ve got your zoom lenses your
software zooms in between that which you can focus too.

“Basically, these
Mobotix lenses give you the full range from 4 right up to telescopic but
they’re then fixed focus to the actual job. The way it works is that depending
on your need for zooming you record a different resolution – right up to 3
Megapixels.”

Bullman explains
that while all the cameras are megapixel not all of them are running at
megapixel at Canada Bay Club.

“Some cameras are
operating in VGA but if you compare that to an analogue camera it’s about 8
times the quality so you don’t always have to run in megapixel with Mobotix
cameras,” says Bullman.

“The failure rate
is zero – as an installer that means you’re not tying a client up to an
expensive maintenance contract. There’s simply no need for a maintenance
contract with Mobotix cameras”

“It depends on
the need. At the club some of the cameras are running at 2 megapixel while
others are running at 3 megapixels and still others operate at VGA – with all
these resolutions available when operators need them.”

According to
Bullman, the key surveillance areas at Canada Bay Club include all entrances,
dispatch areas, kitchen areas for occupational health and safety, as well as
the gaming areas.

“Thanks to the
ease of the installation of Mobotix cameras we were able to put off-the-shelf
DLink DS1228P 24 port, power over ethernet switches in a secure housings within
5 different areas of the club to save us on running massive amounts of cable to
a central location,” he says.

Bullman explains
that compared to the star configurations of the analogue systems of the past
the networked solution allows more flexibility without compromising system
size.

“The DLink allows
us to put 24 cameras in a local area – we run one LAN cable from that switch to
another switch in another area then put another 24 cameras into that area,” he
says.

“We have a master
switch that allows us to bring all our switches together for centralised
management and monitoring across the network. Currently, we have 10-12 cameras
per server and this gives us scope to move cameras between server ports and
between servers for redundancy if required.”

Bullman says the
system’s storage is built on off-the-shelf iOmega storecentre 150Ds.

“Most cameras at
Canada Bay Club are running at 1.5 megapixels and the Club is getting between
28 and 35 days of storage,” explains Bullman.

According to
Bullman, another of the beauties of the system is the fact it can be monitored
and maintained remotely over a secure network.

“We are able to
maintain the Canada Bay Club system using a secure network to monitor its
performance,” Bullman explains. “Secure remote access and the reliability of
Mobotix devices with no moving parts are very important from our perspective as
installers, as well as for our customer.

While it’s
generally accepted that IP Video is a more expensive proposition than analogue,
Bullman says the premium is worth it.

“In terms of
costs you’re talking about perhaps a 30 per cent premium over analog – the
difference with the IP is that you are getting the backbone and you can add
VoIP phones – any IP devices – expanding the system is where savings really
start,” says Bullman.

“To add 10
cameras you don’t need to add DVRs. The PoE switchers are already there –
maintenance is much less. There are no moving parts. The Mobotix Q22 is a
standout example of this flexibility. It has a fisheye lens giving a 360-degree
view and you can select elements of the images you want to view. It’s not
pan/tilt so it’s highly robust but nor does it miss anything you want to see.”

Meanwhile, Austco
IP’s general manager Derek Priest says in terms of the actual installation of
the Canada Bay Club installation, the technical team tried to work around
operating hours as much as possible.

“The installation
was undertaken at night when the club was closed,” Priest explains. “Obviously
we wanted to cause the least possible disruption to the Club.”

According to
Priest, an important aspect of the solution was the fact that installing an IP
system is not as time consuming as installing analog.

“Minimum
installation effort is required and that meant that in comparison to analogue
systems, we weren’t here for long,” he explains. “The installation in its
entirety took about three weeks – 2 weeks with 3 techs doing the installations
and we then undertook a week of commissioning.

“Once this was
done we went into the post-installation phase where we at no cost come back
with Mobotix and make sure the system is working perfectly. We monitor
everything internally and externally or 3 months,” he says.

“From an
installation perspective we started off with working out where the cameras were
to go and then the techs began by running Cat6 cable for PoE,” Priest says.

“Next, the NAS
storage was installed in racks in the comms rooms and last of all the cameras
were installed last. The reason for this is it allows us to customise the
cameras as they’re being installed,” Priest explains.

“We can work out
whether we want a particular camera to be running at one, two or three
megapixels and this is a process we needed to work through given the
installation combines all these resolutions.

Priest is an
unashamed disciple of the religion of Mobotix and the things he believes make
this an exceptional installation include fundamentals like image quality, low
light performance and the system management of MX Controller.

“A big strength
of the Mobotix cameras installed at Canada Bay Club is the resolution of the
image – image quality is what this camera is all about,” says Priest.

“The needs of the
site demand a really good image – not just during the day but particularly at
night. There’s an M12 camera installed to check license plates of cars leaving
the carpark – it’s about 40 metres away from the carpark entrance and gets
perfect images at night.

“The M12 camera
is running at 1 megapixel and the image is so clean that even at night you can
get clear images of the drivers of cars at night – it’s exceptional.”

According to Priest,
the reason for this performance is that each Mobotix camera is a computer with
the ability to deliver an image without showing the effects of sunlight or
headlights.

“Headlights or
sunlight may be present in the scene but the camera recognises them as noise
and ignores them – it’s very, very clever,” Priest says.

“This camera has
a lot of advanced mechanisms. It has motion sensing, it has a speaker, it has a
microphone. These functionalities can be set up to operate at certain times of
the day.

“From midnight
till 6am the camera when it senses movement might play a message from security
warning intruders they are trespassing, have been recorded and must leave the
area. The camera can also record on board and you can access the onboard
buffering ring and view its recorded images.”

Priest says one
of the most exciting features of the system is the MxControlCenter – the free
Mobotix control software which is constantly going through a process of
evolution with regular firmware upgrades.

“It’s a very, very
user friendly control platform,” Priest says. “The management system is
continually improving. Most important, the end user is given full training on
the operation of the system and they can modify the system as they like, when
they like – including adjusting things like viewing or recording resolutions.”

Priest also
points out that reliability with Mobotix is exceptional.Very little support is
required because the system is very dependable.

“The failure rate
is practically zero – as an installer that means you’re not tying a client up
to an expensive maintenance contract. There’s simply no need for a maintenance
contract with Mobotix cameras – the product is particularly impressive in terms
of its low maintenance.” 

Lewis agrees.

“That’s true,” he
says. “Since this system was installed I have not had to call Austco IP to the
site for a single problem and we have 85 cameras so this is not a small system.
Not one camera has failed.”

According to
Priest, part of this reliability relates to the amount of time Austco IP puts
into getting the installations right but he says it also comes down to the
quality of the product and the level of support that comes from Mobotix.

“This support is
not just given to us as an installer – the client gets a lot of support, too,”
Priest explains.

According to
Lewis, the completed system is all that the Club hoped for in terms of
functionality and performance.

“We’ve had
incidents where police have needed to look at our footage and they honestly
cannot believe the quality of the footage,” says Lewis. “In their experience –
and they have to look at a lot of CCTV footage – these are the best and
clearest CCTV images they have ever seen.

“And we’re not
really driving the system hard yet – there’s just so much potential that we’ve
not really scratched the surface.”

“In terms of
costs you’re talking about perhaps a 30 per cent premium over analog – the
difference with the IP is that you are getting the backbone and you can add
VoIP phones – any IP devices – expanding the system is where savings really
start”