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Digital recording for legacy cameras at Britain's largest docks

Dedicated Micros : 28 April, 2008  (Application Story)
NetVu connection with digital IP encoders enable large analogue network at Grimsby and Immingham port to make use of DVR technology.
Digital recording for legacy cameras at Britain's largest docks
The Port of Grimsby and Immingham, the UK's largest port by tonnage is now taking advantage of the latest digital networked CCTV technology from Dedicated Micros, recommended by installer DJ Byers CCTV, to maximise both security and the port's operational and logistical processes.

Back in August 2007, owner and operator Associated British Ports (ABP) turned to DJ Byers CCTV to advise on how best to bring its existing under-utilised and cumbersome analogue CCTV system into the digital era.

The initial installation, undertaken by DJ Byers CCTV, across the two sites that comprise the port included three types of Digital Video recorder (DVR) from Dedicated Micros, range of advanced NetVu Connected products. Corresponding DV-IP Encoders providing IP functionality for the existing analogue CCTV cameras were specified at the same time. As the three-month project progressed, the equipment requirements grew and three Dennard dome cameras were soon added to ABP's shopping list.

A key factor in the success of the scheme was the fact that the whole project was underpinned by NetVu Connected product architecture a common technology base across Dedicated Micros and parent company AD Group's CCTV systems. This supports seamless integration and interoperability and makes the installation and expansion of a network-based CCTV solution a straightforward process.

David Byers, Managing Director of DJ Byers CCTV, explains: "The original brief from ABP was very simple, to upgrade the analogue CCTV system to digital.

"However, with 41 legacy cameras across the two ports and a requirement from ABP that the new installation make use of these cameras and allow for further expansion, the project required careful planning."

It became very clear that the complexity and scale of the project demanded much more than simply unpacking a DVR, connecting cables and plugging in a joystick to bring the system up to date.

Gareth Cutts, IT Manager for ABP, continues: "We already had quite a substantial CCTV network covering the two sites, but it was very disparate, and difficult to manage. We certainly weren't making the most out of the system.

The key stumbling blocks were the size of the port's two sites and the lack of flexibility of the existing system. All the cameras were hard wired and as such only relatively small areas were being monitored by localised groups of cameras managed by local control centres. This made the cameras very task-oriented and unfortunately opportunities were being missed for security cameras to be used for other applications such as monitoring port vehicles.

Coupled with these issues, the solution needed to ensure operability across both wireless and hard wired networks. However, the wireless network already carried radio and other network traffic, placing a limit on the bandwidth available for CCTV.

To include all the existing cameras it was vital to reuse cabling. In itself this is not normally a problem, but the fact that a number of control centres were spread out across the port meant either laying additional cabling to link the centres together or using the wireless network.

Gareth describes the problem:"Unfortunately, when the Victorians built Grimsby and the Edwardians built Immingham, they neglected to include any cable ducting so new cabling was really not an option Equally we had to limit the bandwidth used by the CCTV system over the wireless network, so we needed a third alternative.

"Ultimately the diversity of the Dedicated Micros product range suggested by DJ Byers provided the solution and following David's recommendations we were able to take a decision to site DVRs to suit our needs."

"For example, one of our gatehouses monitors and controls a number of cameras local to its physical position. Unfortunately the gatehouse has limited hard-wired network capacity so it was impossible to link it back to our central control centre. To overcome this, an Eco 9 DVR was installed to record images locally."

"The simplicity of the Eco DVR coupled with ease of installation made this the perfect product for the situation. Plus the Eco is very easy to use which made the switchover from our old system to the Dedicated Micros set-up very straightforward."

"The flexibility of having a local DVR means our gatehouse staff has instant local access to the images but our central security teams, of which we have one per site in central control rooms, can also retrieve images when required via the wireless network using the NetVu ObserVer software."

Dedicated Micros powerful viewing software, NetVu ObserVer, has proved invaluable because of the scale of the sites at Grimsby and Immingham. Multiple users can now access cameras from across the network, breathing new life into the old equipment.

The software uses a familiar drag and drop system, cutting the time taken to train staff and therefore maximise productivity from the new system. By carefully selecting Dedicated Micros DVRs based on storage capacity and scalability the two sites are now monitored together using this Wi-Fi/hard
wired network solution and delivered to all the relevant departments via NetVu ObserVer.

A total of three of the latest SD DVRs and three DVRs from the Eco range were installed to cope with local monitoring requirements. In total 41 legacy cameras are connected to the system in this way.

To integrate the existing analogue cameras and the new digital recording equipment, three Dedicated Micros DV-IP Encoders were also installed, presenting the users of the system with all the benefits of a fully upgradeable and seamless IP CCTV network based on the legacy equipment.

To complement the upgrade, a Digital Sprite 2 (DS2) DVR was positioned at the central network hub for each port to allow the introduction of new IP cameras where and when required.

Three Dennard 2060 Dome cameras have since been added and the ability to do so is made all the more simple by the NetVu Connected system architecture underpinning the CCTV solution. This allows products to easily communicate with one another, eliminating compatibility issues and reducing the time and effort taken in the installation and commissioning process.

As Gareth explains "To bring in a new camera, virtually all we need to do now is plug it in and it's connected to the network.

Prior to the installation, cameras tended to be used for just one purpose. The new system, however, has allowed for the development of multiple applications. At an operational level, the ability to track the movement of vehicles across the port has already proven to be effective.

Gareth recalls one of the first examples of the system being put to the test."Just a few days after the system was up and running, a driver collided with a fence and caused a fair amount of damage."

"Fortunately the damaged section of fence was monitored and with the Dedicated Micros system we were able to use the analytics feature to track activity specific to the area."

"A number of alarms were generated and when we looked back through the footage, one alarm showed a vehicle being driven into the fence, the driver getting out, having a quick look round before getting back in the vehicle and driving off."
"The features of the new system meant we were able to quickly identify the driver and take action."

"Video evidence of what has occurred can also prove decisive in the resolution of disputes. Every ship coming into the port has the potential to run into the side of the lock and we've a number of cases where arguments ensue over who was responsible. In the majority of cases, CCTV footage will settle the debate and the Dedicated Micros solution will now serve to make this much easier."

In total, six members of the port staff have access to the whole of the CCTV camera network via Dedicated Micros NetVu ObserVer. The system has broadened the scope of cameras across the port, with security cameras now being used just as much for operational and logistical applications as for security reasons.

As Gareth concludes: "Thanks to David we have a great understanding of how to implement and get the most from the Dedicated Micros technology."

"I can honestly say that I'm now getting the best out of my old kit and I can readily expand the new."

Says Larry Higham, Area Account Manager at Dedicated Micros: "There is little doubt that the large scale nature of port sites and the volume of cargo they have to deal with present real security challenges for management. It is therefore gratifying to see our NetVu Connected systems playing such a pivotal role in delivering a flexible and scalable networked digital CCTV solution to keep a watchful eye on ABP's operations at Grimsby and Immingham.
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