Zurcorp has installed Axis cameras and Pelco Digital Sentry NVRs; as well as a Concept 4000 access control system and a PA system; for the Ivanhoe Hotel on the Corso at Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches.

MANLY’S Ivanhoe Hotel was the case study SEN covered in its first issue way back in October 1998. That makes it an interesting bellwether for the changes the market has undergone over the past 16 years. In 1998, the original system was a cutting edge all-analogue electronic security solution. It comprised a computerised Pacom 2030 matrix switcher and Pelco fixed and PTZ cameras, with timelapse recording handling storage. 

The CCTV system included multiple Pelco control keypads and viewing screens at remote locations across the site, allowing duty managers maximum support for their security operations. Meanwhile, the original access control system was an Inner Range Concept 3000 with HID prox readers and an extensive alarm system employing PIRs, dual technology sensors and reed switches. One of the first serious electronic security systems in the hotel industry, Ivanhoe’s solution operated with great reliability over many years, with a couple of analogue upgrades extending and enhancing system capability. 

That original solution went in during the process of building and fitting out the Ivanhoe and these works complicated that installation. Reflecting the install in 1998, this digital upgrade was undertaken during a process of renovation, with the Ivanhoe closed and extended into the buildings on either side of the original structure. The renovation was extensive and it has vastly increased the size of the hotel. It’s now possible to get lost in the Ivanhoe.

From the point of view of the end user, what the Ivanhoe wanted from its video surveillance solution was a general overview in sufficient quality to allow identification of people involved in incidents relating to security or safety. Coverage includes entrances, bars, recreation areas and points of sale throughout. 

The site and the system

The Ivanhoe Hotel’s renovation and expansion has changed the nature of what was a modest-sized establishment. My impression post-renovation is of spaces breaking into spaces. Given most the bars are in the central core of the building, there’s a flow of space around this core. There’s a pool room, many beer gardens and courtyards on multiple levels, additional bar areas on different floors, a separate gaming room, an off-street burger and pizza place and a bottle shop. 

As we walk around I get a sense of being in the sort of large community club that is typified by multiple areas each with different moods or themes, the whole designed to appeal to a complete cross section of the community. There are areas to have a meal, areas for grownups to sit and chat at tables, there are booths, nooks and leafy beer gardens where younger folk hang out after a day at the beach. 

The hotel is more upmarket than it used to be – there’s a relaxed beachy vibe. To my eye, the hotel is lighter, there’s between 40-80 lux in most areas during the day. The old Ivanhoe was dark downstairs and you climbed the stairs into deeper darkness on upper levels. No more. It’s all natural light, powder blues and whites, cane furniture, a marine ply Manly Junior sailing dinghy takes pride of place above a bright stairwell. 

Hardware and software

The new surveillance system is built around 2 Pelco Digital Sentry NVRs supporting more than 59 new Axis cameras and nearly 20 Bosch analogue cameras – both domes and full body. Analogue-to-digital Pelco ENC5416 analogue-to-digital encoders support analogue cameras at D1, up to full-frame rate recording and these handle the integration of the Bosch cameras into the Digital Sentry NVRs. 

Doing the grunt work on the IP side is the Axis M3005-V network camera, a 2MP 1080p dome unit that’s vandal and dust-resistant, and designed for quick and flexible installation. This camera has a 3-axis camera angle adjustment so images can be easily levelled. Axis PoE M3005-V offers a horizontal viewing angle of 80-degrees. 

This camera supports Axis’ Corridor Format for vertically oriented video streams of areas such as corridors, hallways or aisles. There’s a micro-SDHC memory card slot for edge storage and video streams can be encoded in H.264 and Motion JPEG. There are also intelligent capabilities such as enhanced video motion detection and detection of camera tampering attempts like blocking or spray-painting.

Each of Pelco’s Digital Sentry NVRs can support up to 128 cameras including up to 64 analogue cameras. Each unit has 280 Mbps bandwidth for video recording, streaming, and video export and up to 18TB internal storage, optionally configured for RAID-5. The Digital Sentry NVR comes preloaded with DS NVs Network Video Management Software and includes 8 IP licenses for Pelco or third-party cameras and network encoders. 

DS NVs is an ONVIF-compliant software-only video management solution that features camera groups and tear-off screens, multiple touring features, multiple alarm features, automatic software update of DS ControlPoint client, quick review of up to 90 minutes of IP audio and video, thumbnail, timeline, and scrub bar for quick video search and intuitive HTML/PDF reports. 

Pelco Digital Sentry

The installation

Duane and Greg Lankow’s Zurcorp integrated the solution at the Ivanhoe Hotel. 

“Our team handled surveillance, access control, alarms, lift control and an upgrade to the paging system,” says Duane Lankow. “At the time we were working on the system, the hotel was closed. This meant we were not working outside opening hours but we did have to contend with the renovation itself.” 

To some extent, the Zurcorp team was involved in this renovation process as well.

“A key aspect of the installation was removal of old gear, removal of cameras, pulling coaxial and power cables out of ceilings, pulling old RG-59 cable bundles out of the riser,” explains Lankow. “This was time-consuming and heavy work. For this reason and due to the scope of the site, there was a lot of work involved on this job. Parts of ceilings came out, we were trying to ensure coverage as designs evolved, we had to coordinate colours. It was an interesting install.”

Tiny camera, top left, closest to wall, covers entire room

Back in 1998 Zurcorp (then Eurovac), contracted technical support from Hans Van de Ven on the Ivanhoe Hotel installation. But this time the system was supplied fully commissioned by Pacific Communications. Something that is clear when comparing this digital upgrade to the original installation at the Ivanhoe Hotel is that the role of distributors has changed over the past 16 years. In 2014, the best suppliers are not shifting boxes, but integrating complete solutions. It’s a big deal and it changed the nature of the integration in terms of back-end fiddle.

“We went out to Pacific Communications and did a shootout between 5-6 different cameras,” Lankow explains. “Pacific Communications’ got the cameras all out on the bench in the Pacific Communications commissioning room at Rydalmere – 59 Axis cameras and 18 of the Bosch analogue cameras – and got them all integrated with the 2 Pelco Digital Sentry units with 9 2TB drives per unit (18TB). 

“The Pacom team commissioned the entire system then delivered it to us. We just terminated the cables and it was essentially plug and play. Price was a major consideration in our product selection but performance in a range of conditions was important, too. We were pretty happy with the Axis camera during the process and decided to use it. 

“When we ordered the system a couple of years ago, HD cameras at this price level just came with a fixed lens and you zoomed in digitally and really, that was it. There wasn’t the IR, auto iris, day/night, optical zoom, additional low light capability, WDR that you get with the latest HD cameras today. Now there’s more choice, more features, more everything and less expense.  

“With the Axis cameras we found that because of the 80-degree angle of the camera views we were able to drop 3-4 per cent of cameras from the design,” says Lankow. “New cameras perform better in terms of coverage than old cameras do.”

PoE Switch in the rack

As part of the shootout process with Pacific Communications, Zurcorp looked at a pair of Pelco Digital Sentry units. The attraction of the Digital Sentry at the time was strong storage levels, an intuitive user interface with simple downloads, plenty of inputs and hybrid capability. 

“Something we like about Digital Sentry was that when you download the footage, the system downloads a player, which is ideal for police who may be unfamiliar with this sort of technology. It’s very easy. The player has all the facility to FF, rewind, zoom, freeze, so it’s a capable system from the point of view of getting this footage into the hands of police in a way they can use it. 

“Storage at the Ivanhoe is for 30 days at 15 frames per second in 1080p HD – we wanted 40 days storage just to build in a bit of a buffer but it was decided 30 days was the best balance of performance and cost for the time being.”

According to Lankow, the IP side of the CCTV system runs on a 1GB dedicated Cat-6 subnet.

“It’s a closed network and everything comes back to the racks in the CCTV room,” he explains. “IP cameras come into a PoE switch then onto the network, while analogue cameras come back on coax to digital encoders and both IP cameras and analogues go into Digital Sentry. We run a single dedicated network link to the management workstation running DS NVs.”  

Obviously on a site this large there are cable runs longer than 100 metres – lots of the runs are longer than this. But thanks to the Cat-6, Lankow says there’s no requirement for amplification. Nor is there any integration between the access and alarms and the CCTV. Alarms and access control are taken care of by a new Concept 4000 running on Insight software on a workstation in the office. 

Inner Range Concept 4000 access control solution

Walking the site

Taking a walk around the site is instructive. It’s early mid-afternoon on a weekday so things are quiet at the Ivanhoe when we visit. I keep an eye out for cameras and find the Axis M3005-V is very discrete. It’s not a bulky camera by any means. The installation is Zurcorp-tidy. There’s none of the surface mount cables or tangles you sometimes see. In front of house, the installation is very neatly done. 

Overall, CCTV coverage is extensive. There’s good vision across bar areas, points of sale, entries, stairways, beer gardens and internal and external spaces. Something that’s interesting is that the strong performance of the cameras and their solid viewing angle really does mean fewer cameras are required. Despite their compact size, the field of view and resolution mean that with sufficient lighting, fewer cameras can cover much larger areas. We are in a 6m x 8m pool room and a single camera is covering the entire space with no blind spots.

 

See that tiny dome camera above the fire door? It's doing the entire room…

In a downstairs bar and the gaming area we run into the Bosch analogue cameras. According to Lankow, analogue was retained down here because these particular cameras were recently installed and their performance is extremely good. 

“The cameras had been upgraded in these areas within the last couple of years as part of the analogue solution,” he explains. “They are the latest analogue cameras and their performance is good. There’s no point removing cameras that are working well, so we’ve integrated them into the new system at D1, 30 frames per second.”

We walk outside onto the Corso.

“The entrance ways where we’ve retained some of the old cameras – see them there and there on the awnings – we’ve also covered with Axis HD cameras,” Lankow says. “These domes can physically zoom in to improve the field of view and depth of field, which made commissioning easier.” 

Axis domes under the awning

As we head back into the hotel, I mention the strong light levels. Light seems pretty good in here, especially the further out from the core of the building you go, I point out. 

“But think of night time,” Lankow replies. “It’s much more challenging then. It’s dim in here at night, there are dark corners and lots of spot lights and light fixtures creating mood lighting. It’s also a very busy place in the evenings – it really goes off in some of the courtyard areas. A big crowd in some of these remote spaces really highlights how important a quality camera system is. Low light performance is obviously a key thing in a dark and challenging environment like this one.” 

According to Lankow, for a hotel like the Ivanhow, CCTV is vital to its operation. For police responding to incidents, hotel CCTV is a vital investigation tool. If there are problems with a system, police can hold management responsible if they are not resolved – or a hotel might lose its liquor license if the system is not functioning properly. 

Bosch analogue FlexiDome in the gaming area

As the final part of our walk-through, we trek up to the CCTV room on the top floor. There are a number of 19-inch racks in here that used to hold the Pacom 2030 matrix switcher, as well as the recorders and associated hardware. What’s striking to me standing in the compact space for the first time since 1998, is how little there is in these racks in 2014. They’re almost empty. 

“There was an old Pacom 2030 in here that we removed,” Lankow points to a gaping hole in a rack. “There are the Digital Sentry units, those are the encoders and there is the network switch. The paging system is over here.” 

I peer down at a circular hole in the concrete floor under the rack. 

“We drilled that new cable core hole to carry the camera cables – all this black jacketed Cat-6 travels into the CCTV room through that core.” 

Adjacent to the racks carrying the CCTV hardware are wall-mounted panels containing the Inner Range Concept 4000 access control modules. As I go over to have a peek, Lankow explains that the original Concept 3000 was upgraded to a 4000 managed by Insight software so as to offer additional functionality and superior management of the system. It’s always a joy to see nice access control panels installed well. 

“There were some challenges up here,” Lankow says. “Initially it was quite difficult because building crews were renovating the top level – they kept all the original roofing and added infrastructure, including lighting. As you can see, we have a number of cameras up here – but the process of this renovation was going on while we were working on the rest of the system and that restricted access at times.” 

Zurcorp's Duane Lankow

Conclusion

There are a number of things that stand out when comparing this new digital solution to the original analogue system. The fact it was commissioned by supplier Pacific Communications before installation is a big thing. The process of integrating all the components in the old system after the hardware was installed was time consuming back in ’98. 

The new system’s footprint in the CCTV room is tiny. No racks of timelapse recorders. No cupboards full of tapes. It’s tighter in all respects. The lack of a physical matrix switch is a big thing, too. The matrix switch, reliable though it was, was a major piece of hardware. That all those duties can be handled by software is a major deal.  

The small size of the cameras is also noticeable as you move around the hotel. Modern cameras are much less intrusive. You can do more with fewer cameras thanks to the wider camera views offered by higher resolution images. But some things have not changed. 

“You need a system that comprises cameras that work well in low light supported by a video management system that is easy for managers to operate and get information out of,” Lankow tells me. “While many things have changed with the latest video surveillance systems, in a hotel application those core capabilities are as vital as ever.”

By John Adams