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Casino plans network growth for IP security cameras

Black Oak Casino Resort in California advises against being penny-wise and pound-foolish when doing network capacity planning for IP security cameras.

Black Oak Casino Resort has almost 800 high-definition surveillance cameras recording activity in its casino and hotel 24/7. With plans to add more IP security cameras in the coming months, the Tuolumne, Calif., gaming and entertainment complex is glad it chose a cabling system that can accommodate growth.

"You don't want to go cheap on cabling," said Edewaa Foster, vice chair of the gaming commission that oversees casino operations. "We did CAT 6E, which was the latest and greatest at the time, and we did that for future expansion."

In an interview with TechTarget, Foster offered a few tips for companies planning to upgrade or install a network of IP security cameras that never sleep. His pointers could be helpful to the many organizations expected to purchase systems over the next few years. By 2022, the global video surveillance market will reach $71.3 billion, which represents a compound annual growth rate of 16.5% over the next five years, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets.

Black Oak spread its IP security cameras in buildings that cover an area the size of three football fields. A surveillance system that size can cost between $2.2 million and $2.7 million, Foster said.

The CAT 6E cables support 10 GbE, which gives Black Oak room to grow. Going with less expensive CAT 5E cables, which support 1 GbE, would have been penny-wise and pound-foolish, Foster said. Having extra capacity for future cameras is a "big cost savings," when compared with replacing or adding cable later.

Either cabling system would have been an improvement over the CAT 3 cables that supported the analog cameras Black Oak swapped out in April 2014 for an Endura IP-based system from Schneider Electric-owned Pelco.

Multicasting a priority

A priority for Black Oak was a network that could handle multicasting, which broadcasts video from a single camera to multiple people, each in a different location. The new system lets as many as five people watch a video at one time, Foster said.

Because of Avaya's strength in multicasting, Black Oak chose the vendor's Virtual Services Platform 7000, a 24-port, top-of-rack switching system. The casino has two VSP 7000s, so one can take over if the other fails. Government regulations require videotaping all financial transactions that take place on the casino floor, so going dark is not an option.

Directing traffic from the IP security cameras are 28 Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch 4000s. The Avaya-powered network, which is used only for video surveillance, stores recordings in 17 NSM5200 Series network storage managers from Pelco. Each device has 36 TB of storage, which is enough for 14 days of video. Regulations require a seven-day hold.

The casino uses the Pelco Endura Video Management System to push out firmware updates once a year to improve the video quality and overall performance of the cameras. Avaya recently released a firmware update for the VSP 7000s, but Black Oak is delaying installation until the casino is sure the update won't cause problems.

"Being up to date is a must," Foster said, but an organization doesn't need to be the first out of the gate. "As we know with technology, there are always bugs."

Black Oak's expansion of IP security cameras

Today, the resort includes a 158-room hotel, six restaurants, a conference center, hundreds of slot machines, two dozen table games, a bowling center and a kids' arcade. The casino is owned and operated by the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.

Black Oak is building an addition to the casino that will include an entertainment lounge for concerts, Foster said. The resort is also about to break ground on a park for up to 100 recreational vehicles.

The casino expects to complete both projects this year, which will add up to 80 more cameras to the network. Despite the additional load, Foster is confident the casino has the right cabling and networking gear to handle it.

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