The Museum of Funeral History, located in Houston, Texas, has deployed an integrated surveillance system comprised of advanced Acuity-vct video analytics software and an array of IQinVision HD megapixel cameras to protect its many exhibits and priceless artifacts.
The National Museum of Funeral History houses the country's largest collection of funeral service artifacts and features renowned exhibits on one of man's oldest cultural customs. The museum features the mourning rituals of ancient civilizations, authentic items used in the funerals of U.S. Presidents and Vatican Popes, and the rich heritage of the industry which cares for the dead. The museum was recently named one of “Ten Places to See in Houston”.
In 2008, Bob Boetticher, Vice Chairman and CEO, National Museum of Funeral History, knew that his new papal exhibit was going to dramatically increase museum attendance and he would now have numerous priceless artifacts to safeguard. Bob and a colleague attended the American Association of Museums tradeshow and while walking the floor he discovered Acuity-vct’s booth, where he met Dan Lazuta, Acuity-vct Director of Sales.
“Dan demonstrated his system,” related Boetticher, “and basically he had a camera focused on a framed picture. Then using his software, protection zones were placed on designated areas of the picture. If any of these zones were disturbed an alarm immediately went off. We were definitely intrigued and I knew rather quickly we had finally found what we’d been looking for.” Up to that point, Boetticher and his staff had been purchasing off-the-shelf cameras just to keep an eye on things, but certainly a more sophisticated system was critical going forward.
“I’m a funeral director by trade, so we brought Acuity-vct in to provide additional demonstrations, set up the system to fit our security and protection needs, and to recommend the right kind of cameras,” said Boetticher. “We stressed the value of many of the items that would be on display and that it was critical we have extremely clear video. After seeing the quality the IQeye megapixel cameras can deliver you just can’t go back to a lesser technology.”
At present, the museum has a mix of 52 IQinVision cameras and some of the legacy cameras first installed. When a legacy camera fails, it is replaced by an IQeye camera. Also, four to five additional IQeye cameras are on order as the museum continues to expand the areas under surveillance. Most cameras are deployed inside the museum, but a small number do provide surveillance around the building and for the parking lot.
Most of the museum’s exhibits are protected by Acuity-vct’s advanced motion detection analytics. When a protection zone drawn around an item or exhibit is broken, an alarm immediately sounds as does an audio warning. The museum guard is able to get to the area affected within 30 seconds.
Boetticher explained further, “We have a guard on a raised platform as our visitors are walking through the gift shop, so he is clearly evident.” The guard is reviewing surveillance images from the IQeye cameras at all times. “This system works great. It does exactly what we were told it would do when we bought it—you don’t get to say that very often.”
He continued, “We do get alarms, mostly by the Popemobile, people will lean way over the railing to touch the vehicle. If you set off an alarm, it’s not by accident the way we have the system designed. So, we take those alarms very seriously. Sometimes a shadow can set off an alarm, but we can easily adjust the software to prevent such false alarms.”
Boetticher doesn’t just use his Acuity-vct system and his IQinVision cameras to protect the Popemobile. His main office is actually 30 miles away from the museum in downtown Houston, and he can access all the crystal-clear camera views when he wants to catch up with activity at the museum.
The museum’s parking lot surveillance has proved important in thwarting air conditioner copper theft and helping the police investigate car break-ins that might occur. The museum is co-located with the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Services so there is a large amount of vehicular traffic. For this reason, the museum recently invested in IQinVision 5 MP Sentinel cameras to provide very high resolution images for an Acuity-vct license plate recognition software system.
“Acuity-vct is a first class company, if we ever have an issue, they’re immediately on it. They can tap into the system remotely and makes adjustments and repairs,” assessed Boetticher. “The quality of the equipment we bought and the service we receive, I am very satisfied. We spend a good bit of money, and it’s all worth it. The IQeye cameras are clear as a bell and the difference is like night and day from the legacy cameras we had been using. I don’t think of this as spending money, it’s an investment. The investment we made is well worth it because we are buying peace of mind. So many of the items on display, especially within the Papal exhibit, simply cannot be replaced.”