Tracking Undesirable Behavior in Casinos

Casinos with hotel properties are popular vacation destinations, and with good reason. They provide numerous forms of entertainment and amenities from one location to the next, including gaming halls, pools and beaches, spas, retail shops, amusement parks, and restaurants. Surveillance and security personnel need to be on top of all of these high traffic areas, and the unique challenges that these amenities face as complements to gaming operations.

Because they are attractions across all demographics and cultures, gaming properties and casinos attract a very wide variety of visitors, many of whom elicit undesirable behaviors ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to cheating.

Casino security has to balance a welcoming guest-focused attitude with a firm and capable presence to prevent and handle problems as they arise. Surveillance and security operations are a mainstay at casinos because they support a range of business imperatives, including not only the protection of employees, patrons and assets, but also compliance with stringent gaming regulations.

For many casinos, one of the best ways to create a highly structured, discreet and secure environment is by employing advanced video surveillance technologies that support high-quality analytics. In addition to delivering high levels of situational awareness, these systems also deliver documented evidence for investigations and court cases.

Integrated analytics in fixed, PTZ, 360 degree, and panoramic security cameras can help to detect undesirable behaviors – such as an object left behind, card counting at the gaming table, a door propped open, a guest whose behavior is inappropriate, theft from employees or vendors, and more – and send alerts to security personnel. Surveillance analytics can also track identified individuals from camera to camera throughout the premises. Additionally, facial recognition analytics can alert operators if a known offender enters the casino, freeing security officers from constant monitoring of entrances and exits. And heat mapping can provide valuable insight into loitering statistics so that security officers can better allocate staff to problematic areas. The vast amounts of data provided by the surveillance system can be reviewed for specific trends to prevent further incidents from taking place, and deliver new sources of business intelligence.

With integrated video imaging, camera control and management, and analytics technologies in place, gaming facilities can have the real-time situational awareness and data needed to respond to and deescalate real potential threats and incidents from guests with simply bad manners and behavior.

No Child Left Behind

As air travel becomes more and more a part of everyday life, airports are becoming more complex facilities. Multiple terminals, the proliferation of retail and food service outlets, circuitous layouts, front- and back-of-house areas, varying levels of security, and large crowds all make an airport more difficult to navigate, requiring intricate signage to ensure that patrons don’t get lost. In this environment, should a young child be separated from their traveling companions, it may be difficult for them to find their way back.

If a child becomes separated from their family in an airport, they can be extremely difficult to locate. Many areas that a small child can access before anyone even notices they’re gone can put them in hazardous situations or out of sight of airport personnel. Locating the child is obviously of paramount importance to the frightened family, and the child may not be old enough to understand how to find their way to airport staff who can help them. In these situations, security may need to step in to help find a lost child and bring them back before any problems arise for the child or the airport – all while making sure the family is on time for their flight.

However, the security personnel at airports are already extremely busy with the many threats they must deal with on a continual basis. Security personnel are constantly on the lookout for issues, from potential terrorism to disgruntled employees that may cause issues to the growing crowds waiting to get on their flights. Having to locate a lost child and reunite them with their family could divert significant resources away from protecting everyone else within the airport and ensuring the safety of flights as they depart and arrive. Fortunately, many security technologies on the market today deliver dynamic features that help make searches for lost children simple, fast and accurate.

Intelligent analytics in place on many modern video management systems (VMS) can help to quickly locate lost children and aid security officers in reconnecting them with their families. People-tracking analytics are able to scan thousands of people in seconds, using predetermined search criteria— height, hair color, shirt color, and others— to search faster and more accurately than is possible by human eyes alone and locate an individual meeting that criteria. Security officers can then minimize time wasted with on-the-ground searching by notifying officers nearby and keeping them updated with the location of a missing child as they move through the airport.

Analytics can also be leveraged to detect lost children entering hazardous areas before they’re even reported by their worried families. By setting alarms to be triggered by a VMS when a perimeter or barrier is breached without authorization, when movement is detected in the opposite direction of traffic, or when doors are opened with force, security officers are notified immediately, allowing them to proactively respond to possible incidents and helping to prevent harm to anyone in an unauthorized area. The use of this analytics software can even allow for unmanned monitoring, freeing up security teams to perform additional tasks.

In addition to analytics, many surveillance cameras are equipped with features that can assist in locating lost children. Multi-sensor panoramic cameras allow operators a better view of the entirety of the facility, covering high and low areas that other cameras might miss and giving officers a better view of people who are lower to the ground.

When a child goes missing in a complex facility like an airport, time is of the essence to reunite them with their worried family and prevent them from accidentally harming themselves or others. With modern cameras and the right integrated analytics on your surveillance system, you can limit the manpower required to find a lost child and locate them even more efficiently than with an extensive ground-level search, ensuring that they keep out of danger and can even still make their flight.

Megapixels: What’s the Perfect Number?

When customers ask for the ideal number of megapixels in a security camera, there is no single answer.

With all the camera models that are now available, and with all the variety of applications where those cameras may be applied, it’s a matter of matching the application with available imaging solutions on a camera-by-camera basis.

In many cases, customers ask for more megapixels in the hope of getting better image resolution over longer distances. They want to be able to zoom into a point of interest in the distance and have enough pixels to accurately identify people and objects. However, this “more is better” approach to resolution can significantly increase costs for cameras, infrastructure and recording capacity without increasing image quality. In fact, higher megapixel sensors may not perform as well in extreme lighting conditions as high quality 1MP and 2MP cameras. Experienced system designers help define the imaging objectives for each camera location in a system, identify physical and budget limitations, and then apply these factors to determine the megapixel camera resolution and form factor that best meets each camera site’s specific requirements.

It’s all about asking the right questions at the system planning phase. Some typical questions that should be answered before determining which resolution to purchase include:

  • What are you trying to accomplish? Is merely detecting the presence of a person or vehicle sufficient, or do you want to know basic information such as whether an adult or child is present? Do you need to go further and recognize or identify a particular person or license plate?
  • What field of view (FOV) are you trying to cover? Is the camera monitoring a narrow or limited area, or is the camera there for wide-FOV situational awareness?
  • Does a fixed view from this camera meet the need, or does it need to pan/tilt/zoom to change views?
  • At what distance from the camera would like to be able to do these? Are there other possible mounting locations that can be considered?
  • What are the expected operating conditions, including lighting and environmental? Are there options to add additional lighting, for example?
  • What are the bandwidth capacities and limitations of the system infrastructure and how much bandwidth will each camera require at maximum frame rate?

These questions are just a starting point to help pinpoint what’s needed on a camera site-by-site basis. Skilled system designers are aware of these factors, and can help choose the best camera for each location and set of conditions and objectives. While the specifics of each situation will drive the correct answer, the industry does have some general rules of thumb that illustrate the pixel-count challenge.

For example, enhanced low-light performance may be needed to be able to capture acceptable images in low-light environments. Camera with true Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) imaging technology can capture detail from both bright and dark areas in a single scene. When supported by strong low-light and WDR performance, cameras with more megapixels provide the ability to zoom in with greater resolution and detail. Without these extreme lighting (or another modifier for “capabilities”) capabilities, a high pixel count alone will typically not provide the desired image detail, particularly in lower-light and in images with highly contrasted light and dark areas within the same scene.

Another example might be when a designer might say 20 pixels/foot is sufficient for general surveillance applications. That means that after taking into account both the location of the camera, the distance and angles of view, and the resolution of the camera, that 20 pixels will be on the desired target for each 12 inches of target length. At that resolution, users will be able to see basic shapes and colors of cars, people’s clothing and other objects, but will not have enough detail for facial recognition or license plate identification. This is one reason why the objective of system is so important to choosing the correct resolution – 40 pixels/foot is generally the minimum resolution required for facial recognition and license plate identification. To achieve this level requires the camera to have four times the total pixels of the first case, if all other factors are held constant. To read clothing logos or decoration, even higher resolutions would be required.

As imaging technology continues to quickly advance with higher megapixel resolutions and more powerful processing driving enhanced features and capabilities, security professionals will have more options to achieve their imaging objectives. There simply is no simple answer to the question: “How many megapixels is enough?” By working with an experienced system designer, and by having a clear understanding of the surveillance objectives, physical conditions and budget limitations, security professionals can maximize the probability that their investment in a new or enhanced surveillance system will deliver what they want when they need it most.