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News

Catering surveillance at large distributed campus

Milestone Systems : 28 October, 2008  (Application Story)
Milestone's IP video platform is at the heart of a new widespread surveillance system installed at the University of Buffalo to prevent losses from catering facilities


The University of Buffalo university in upstate New York manages food services that total $20 million annually from vending machines, convenience stores, cafes and restaurants. Loss prevention is an important part of this, centrally handled with efficient network surveillance from Milestone Systems, the global leader for open platform IP Video management software. The largest campus locations for the State Universities of New York (SUNY) are the University at Buffalo. UB has a very widely distributed multi-campus environment with varied security needs in different departments. Food services alone are responsible for over $20 million annually. There are 300 vending machines, retail convenience stores, cafes and restaurants, as well as supply rooms for warehousing the goods. Both theft and vandalism can incur huge losses. Security for the widespread locations has previously been costly to manage with DVRs, which have limited life spans that create gaps in surveillance coverage when the hardware fails on a regular basis. They have now moved to an open platform IT approach with a centrally managed solution using Milestone XProtect IP Video management software, operating over 100 cameras, with more to be added over time. The surveillance hardware is a best-of-breed mix from Axis, Sony and Pelco. “The Milestone platform gives us central management and distributed control, with a flexible choice of cameras and system setups. The IP network technology is scalable to many locations with remote access and very easy central administration that is cost efficient for the most effective use of our IT resources and infrastructure,†reports Keith Curtachio, Director of IT for the Faculty Student Association, University at Buffalo. With this IP-based security technology, University at Buffalo has gained flexibility and scalability, centralized administration with decentralized access for use of the system, wide geographic distribution, and Power Over Ethernet hardware in the Axis cameras. In addition to managing loss prevention and other security issues, they have gained the cost efficiencies of using standard IT resources – both the equipment and network infrastructure, as well as the IT Department’s expertise and maintenance routines for keeping the system up and running, or expanding it as needed. The campus dining and food shops for all of the University at Buffalo serve 5,000 faculty and 25,000 students. In addition to serving about 40-60,000 meals a day, there are hundreds of vending machines, some in remote locations - all of which accept cash and campus cards. The UB campuses handle over $2.5 million a year in vending alone. “We operate as a business, spread across multiple campuses with 21 operations and the large amount of food stocked for these, for which we have to transport cash, gives us a greater risk for theft. We were the first department with security and to use surveillance, which used to be analog: VCRs to DVRs. We also had to put temperature sensors into coolers that had to be kept secured - it's expensive to lose large amounts of food,†explains the FSA Director of IT Keith Curtachio. Keith Curtachio is a visionary man. He understood the scalability advantages of going with an IP approach when he saw a 2004 presentation on a Milestone-Axis installation in the South Campus Medical department done by Mike Blumenson, an employee there at the time. Blumenson later started his own business, Digital Surveillance Solutions, as a Certified Milestone Partner, and has been helping the University at Buffalo roll out IP Video since then. “I was asked to install a significant number of cameras at one time, so I did the math, which justified taking the jump to IP. More important for us was the back-up procedure routine. I’d lose the DVRs on an annual basis: the drives fry. The average life of a standard DVR.asp">DVR is no more than 15,000 hours, which would be fine if you used it like a normal computer where the hard drive isn’t on all the time – that sits and waits for you to ask it to perform. On DVRs, the hard drive is constantly in motion and racks up the hours very quickly, then they fail,†states Curtachio. “We've actually put together a portable kit in a suitcase set up in advance with the Milestone so we can install an emergency camera anywhere in just minutes. The second it’s connected to any network port in this entire school, it starts recording instantaneously. I used this kit for a situation to help the police in a special case recently, and they loved it!†smiles Curtachio. Vandalism makes up the majority of the problems at UB with crimes like theft occurring mostly at night. “At one particular set of machines where we had just installed the new system, we could see someone in action. These pros were known to the university security officers, who shared the evidence with the Buffalo city police. They were able to use in court the incriminating images of these perpetrators from the Milestone software by remotely giving the D.A. access and downloading the XProtect Remote Client for viewing the images, allowing the testimony to be given on the spot, establishing the full chain of evidence,†states Curtachio. He attests that there have been many arrests and convictions over the past several years thanks to this system.


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