Tecom Challenger V10 access control and Dahua IP CCTV installed at major Fiji bank.

Electro Security Ltd is in the process of upgrade transitions at 3 Bank branches in Fiji – Namaka, Lautoka and Nausori. The completed solutions will incorporate Dahua IP CCTV systems and Tecom Challenger 10 access control solutions.

THE bank is replacing legacy digital and analogue surveillance solutions, and mechanical access control at all 3 branches. Integrator Electro Security Ltd, which is handling the integration, specialises in supplying electronic security solutions for the financial sector and has had a working relationship with this major bank in Fiji and elsewhere in the Pacific, since 2001.

According to Ran Vijay Singh, ESL’s founder and managing director, ESL is handling all the work, including designing the solutions.

“As well as visiting the branches to get a sense of their security requirements we also use floor plans to lay out all the security devices – this includes strategic locations and mountings for CCTV, security alarm system and integrated access control,” Vijay Singh explains.

According to Vijay Singh, video surveillance and access control are the core systems being upgraded at the branches.

“The upgrade work at in Fiji calls for a complete transition to an NVR-based Dahua CCTV IP solution, with integrated Tecom Challenger 10 access control and alarm system handling access and alarm events and reporting,” he says.

ESL’s work with this major bank has a significant historical element.

“This upgrade is the latest work we have done for this client here in Fiji – ESL has been engaged with the bank since 2001, initially as service and maintenance backup for installed branch electronic security, later to handle complete integration of electronic security technology – this means we have serviced and installed a range of technologies as they have evolved,” Vijay Singh explains.

“Back in 2001, bank branches Fiji-wide had VCR time lapse recorders with Panasonic analogue cameras installed by New Zealand-based local integrator, Security Systems, which dominated the security industry in Fiji in those days. When we first began partnering with our client, some branches still used standalone still picture capture cameras where ribbon films needed to be removed to develop pictures in labs for verification. In 2002, we approached our clients Property department to talk about introducing the first Pacom DVR technology and ESL was awarded a tender in 2003/2004 for branches in Lautoka and Namaka for a complete CCTV transition and changeover.

“This was well received by the stakeholders at the time due to the ease of DVR operation, footage retention and retrieval with H264 video compression feature and DI resolution camera picture quality. Later ATM machines introduced by our client required installed CCTV upgrade for ATM pinhole cameras, ATM booth dome cameras and external vandal-proof IK10/ P66 IR cameras for low light areas.”

Ran Vijay Singh, ESL

According to Vijay Singh, their client’s Group Security, Group Property and Project Management divisions have laid out performance specifications and an Approved Product List, including Global Standards for their retail network security applications. For all retail refurbishments, transitions and upgrades required approved contractor ESL adhere to these installation standards, specifications and compliance.

“This standardisation meant that with this latest upgrades at Namaka,Lautoka and Nausori , we worked on a single platform with an approved product specification for all retail outlets, introducing IP cameras with face recognition capabilities, correct megapixel resolution, infrared technology, IP66-rated weatherproofing, IK10-rated vandal proofing, power over ethernet (POE) and protective housings for external cameras,” he explains.

“Strategic positioning of cameras from conventional installations has also changed with increased risk factors, with additional coverage required for waiting areas, cash counting desk, cash lobby’s, vaults, safe rooms and teller areas requiring cameras to capture customer and overhead camera viewing cash transactions on the counter covering cash draws and lockers.”

When it comes to storage, network video recorders with higher capacity hard drives for video retention periods of 3 months or longer and video export transfer for footage retrievals are required. ESL is responsible for ensuring the installed NVR system is tamperproof, and that the client’s authorised staff are given restricted access for video playback and clip copy. Other programming parameters are protected by admin passwords retained by ESL – this safeguards the client and the service provider from any form of retained video archive breaches.

Walking the Sites

When we visit the 2 branches just prior to upgrade, it’s plain to see these are very busy bank branches indeed, with many tellers and loads of customers. It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking Fiji’s relatively small population would make for quiet branches but that’s not so. The bustling branch at Lautoka – Fiji’s second largest city – is as busy as any bank branch I’ve seen in Sydney, and Namaka is not far behind, with queues to the door. Interesting too, in both locations branch management is highly engaged with the electronic security upgrade and has very clear ideas about what’s required to protect their branch operations and ensure staff safety, right down to camera placement.

At the Namaka branch, I get a look at the existing solution, which is an analogue system supported by DVRs, installed around 2006. There are Ganz cameras, a Ganz DVR, a Paradox alarm system and mechanical access control on doors – everything is in good working order but clearly the latest high-resolution IP cameras with enhanced WDR capability will be a major improvement. Card-based access control will also make managing staff access much easier, while providing a detail event log.

“All the mechanical access control locks will be replaced by a Tecom Challenger 10 access control, prox readers and an alarm system, with a Dahua IP CCTV system supported in a network room and no hardware in the branch office,” Vijay Singh tells me. “the new surveillance strategy is designed to ensure staff are able to see in front of and behind tellers – cameras will be mounted above so tellers don’t block a camera’s view of customers at the counter.

“This will show incidents of theft and accidental losses and we will also be able to see if a customer is accidentally overpaid. Accidents are more common than anything else. We’ve heard of incidents in which bank documents have fallen from counters into rubbish bins after being bumped by a busy teller’s elbow – the new system will show the client’s management events like this.”

Vitogo Parade, Lautoka

Next, we take a look at the Lautoka branch, which will be the first branch to undergo the upgrade process. Lautoka is a busy town with a tree-lined main street stretching far into the distance. The branch in Lautoka is also very busy. There are 55 cameras here, all analogue. This relatively large solution is supported by venerable Pacom PDR D1s with 16 inputs. I spend some time looking at the workstation monitor to get sense of performance – these cameras are up to 10 years old and while they do their job well enough, they show weaknesses against backlight compared to the latest technologies – which is very much what you’d expect. Their lower resolution is apparent, too.

“This site will be undergoing a structural upgrade as well as a security upgrade,” Vijay Singh says. “Of course, during the staging process the old cameras will need to be moved to give proper views, so security levels remain consistent.”

We have an interesting experience in Lautoka. Branch manager, Linda, comes out to greet us. Immediately it’s clear she’s right across the security upgrade and intends right there and then, to ensure it will give her team exactly what it needs for security and safety during and after the upgrade process.

“The camera views must be from up high, so customers’ faces can be seen, not just the backs of staff, and higher quality footage is also vital,” she says. Next, she points out the blooming of WDR at the main entrance on the workstation monitor and says it’s a problem, too. Staff need to be able to see faces outside the door and as customers come inside.

“And we want coverage of the whole of the carpark during the upgrade,” Linda says. “At the moment we only have this part (she points), but we need to see the door as well as the carpark.”

It’s not uncommon for security managers to be possessive of their security solutions and have clearly defined ideas about performance and capability. Linda’s intensely serious stance on the security and safety of her team shows that mindset applies to the client’s operational managers, too.

Challenges of the applications

The security upgrades at Namaka and Lautoka began a couple of months ago and according to Vijay Singh, there have been several challenges.

“Security setup for any commercial bank comes with challenges, especially with risk factors and fraud case complications requiring camera picture clarity for face recognition, currency captures, internal pilferage cases and quality video evidence presentable in a court of law,” he explains.

“Sometimes different divisions of the bank require specialised applications – for example, covert camera installations requiring specialised installation skills and product acquisition. Other challenges include turnaround times for backup service and breakdowns, scheduled maintenance programs and online technical support 24hrs.

“Another challenge of any job is keeping abreast of upcoming security technology required by a client for upgrades – as technology changes, technical staff require training and certification to be compliant with installations – that process is ongoing.”

When it comes to this upgrade, installation challenges at Namaka, Lautoka and Nausori include the fact they are live sites with certain areas being closed during a structural upgrade process. Working on a site that is open for business makes things more difficult, but these sites are not just live, they are partial building sites.

“The 3 branches where we are undertaking our upgrades are also in the process of being refurbished – this means the upgrade process can be cumbersome at times,” Vijay Singh explains. “Partial cabling, catenary cable suspension, coring and penetrations when completed in single phase are all so much easier than getting half the job done then downing tools and waiting for other sub-contractors to finish their required works.

“Making things more challenging still, existing security electronic equipment needs to be relocated in real time to provide continuity of coverage and performance across all aspects of branch operations. Then there are the usual issues, including cooperating with other sub-contractors, project delays, weather conditions (recent hurricanes) and other contributing factors could impact on the tender value for the project.

“Frankly, I think that with a live site, an upgrade is much easier whether it be an existing system upgrade or a complete transition, if there’s less hindrance from other projected works on site. Once the new system is in place, the old installation is decommissioned, and you can provide required end user training and handover in shortest possible time.”

ESL service techs, Rahul Ranjit, Savanaca Vunisa and Roneel Davendra Singh.

At the heart of the installation is cabling – in some applications it’s possible to retain some old cabling and equipment that remains in good condition but in these 3 applications that’s not going to be possible as the old system used analogue cameras linked to DVRs and the new system is full IP.

“With CCTV, analogue transitions to IP require complete cable replacement from the conventional RG5/6/11 to Cat 5/6 for video transfer mediums as required,” Vijay Singh explains. “Normally, with all new installations, we remove old cabling, clear the ceiling, then check the condition of cable catenary and trays so see what could be refurbished and re-used.

“Alarm system and access control cable is checked for continuity and voltage drops, we undertake physical check for moisture damage or copper oxidisation, and any other factors that might hinder the new installation. If there’s any doubt about cabling or cable infrastructure whatever, complete replacements are carried out for new installations so as to avoid any failures.”

All the products being used are client-approved as stipulated in Protective Electronic Standard, which requires best practice standards with relevant countries.

When it comes to the surveillance solution, both branches need to manage low light conditions in internal and external areas.

“We opt to use IR internal and external cameras to avoid upgrading at later stage in the event the site’s might experience instances of internal pilferage, with workers and sub-contractors accessing the branches after hours and working in low light areas or in case anyone deliberate switches off lights.”

Vijay Singh says the cameras will be set to standard specifications, given the nature of the applications. He says the focus is to keep functionality high and costs low – most clients want court-admissible evidence and easy operation.

“For surveillance applications like this we mostly use 2.8-12mm varifocal lenses – we find this range covers almost everything we might need, and we tend to use the wider end of the lens – 2.8mm – particularly for internal applications,” Vijay Singh explains. “2MP is the resolution we use, as well as IP66 and IK10 ratings against weather and vandalism – indoors and outdoors – and we install our systems on dedicated, cybersecure subnets.”

Storage is another area of consideration.

“The Dahua NVRs we are using are capable of 24000GB HDD capacity, though to meet the bank’s requirement, 8000-1200GB delivers our client 3-month retention, depending on external camera traffic and this storage capacity can be increased as required,” he says.

Access control and intrusion detection are also core aspects of the upgrades at Namaka, Lautoka and Nausori

“Cardax (Gallagher) access control and Tecom alarm systems are also approved hardware for the client’s retail network,” says Vijay Singh. “ESL techs are certified Tecom Challenger 10 integrators and are trained and certified by engineers from Hills NZ. Instead of using 2 types of head-end hardware, we will use Tecom Challenger 10s for access control, with corresponding 4-door controllers, IO boards and Tecom readers. Expansion and relay boards are interfaced for burglar alarms, emergency switches, seismic detectors and alerting devices.”

According to Vijay Singh, when completed the new electronic security solutions will give management far greater control than they’ve ever had before, as well as giving excellent image quality for investigations, should this ever be required.

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