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University of East Anglia (UEA)

In 2005, Trevor Smith then Customer Account Manager for the UEA realised that their existing analogue CCTV system was due for an overhaul. With the help from Steve Edwards, Electrical Design Engineer and his IT group he made an effort to gain an understanding of the UEA's requirement and current issues.

Having spoken to his IT department he quickly realised that he could leverage the universities existing extensive fibre cabling infrastructure should he elect to go IP CCTV thereby making major cost savings versus staying with the existing analogue system.

It was imperative that University gained a scalability flexibility and cost effective solution and leveraged what was already in place.  He approached his existing installation and support company together with a number of other local IP centric security companies to look at their offerings and vision to see if he could utilise this in the universities plans.

Background on the University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia (UEA) is an internationally renowned, campus-style university set in 400 acres of parkland.  It provides academic, social and cultural facilities to over 14,000 students, with 2,500 non-UK students from more than 100 countries worldwide.  The university employs around 3,000 staff and is rated as one of the top universities within the UK.

Managing Security at the UEA
The campus has seen rapid expansion with extensive building during the 1960s, 80s and over the last ten years.  Management of the estate and over 100 campus buildings is the responsibility of the university’s Estates department, which employs around 100 staff.  The Estates department’s core functions are maintaining the physical fabric of the campus, managing the grounds and also campus security.

In the 1960s campus security was the responsibility of the university’s sixty porters who ensured that doors were locked, windows were closed and the campus was secure.  In the 1980s the numbers of porters were reduced but many were retained as security officers.  Then the university began to install CCTV cameras, mainly as a response to an increase in crime in car parks around the campus.  Screens displaying live images were installed in the main reception area for monitoring by the front desk team and to act as a deterrent.  Different CCTV systems were installed over time with each remaining stand-alone, often using differing proprietary standards.  Because of this, interoperability between groups of cameras was a near impossibility.  Monitoring jobs such as tracking people moving across the campus became time-consuming and complex, riddled with failure points.

During the mid-1990s, a central control room was established and all of the individual systems were connected into it.  Monitoring of the screens was now the responsibility of the security officers, rather than the receptionists.  The control room was packed full of equipment, including multiplexers, a bank of video recorders and two walls of monitors totalling 30 screens.  Each screen showed the output from four CCTV cameras.  The control room required extensive air conditioning to reduce the heat generated by all this equipment.  Despite this, on a hot summer’s day temperatures in the control room could exceed 40 degrees Celsius.  When the heat became too much, not only did the security staff not want to work in the room, but the equipment would start to fail as it overheated.

Defining requirements for modern day surveillance system
If an incident did occur on campus and the police requested images, the security team would have to spend hours examining video footage to try and locate the required images and piece them together from different VHS tapes.  There was no consistency in the type of CCTV camera deployed across the campus which was a mix of black and white and colour.  On several occasions, the security team could not supply the police with the images they requested.  Managing the bank of video recorders was problematic; the tapes had to be changed every 12 hours and typically would not be changed at the right time so vital images would be erased and those that were there were difficult to locate.  Tapes were held in 30 day rotation racks and there were so many of these they dominated one large wall in the central control room.  Also, with the tapes being used over and over again, the image quality degraded and tapes even broke.

Smith and his team initiated a complete review of security management.  This review encompassed the CCTV system and articulated the need for a long–term security strategy for the future.  He recognised that there had not been a video surveillance strategy in place before and for the previous five years a great many cameras had been installed across the campus in an ad-hoc way.  The UEA was battling with a myriad of proprietary camera systems and if a camera went wrong the university had to go back to the original manufacturer to see if they still supplied parts or whether the camera had become obsolete.  Smith discovered that the building contractors had been in charge of specifying the type of camera systems being installed in new UEA buildings.  But because the installation of the CCTV systems tended to be considered only as an after-thought once the building was completed, cheap and ineffective systems tended to be deployed.

At the same time the university was starting to identify how it could integrate a range of IT systems together across a new campus-wide, high specification fibre optic network.  As part of this planning work a buildings access control system was integrated with vehicular access control at road entrances to the site. Smith recognised that the existing analogue CCTV system had major limitations and also saw an opportunity to centralise and consolidate the surveillance system through the use of the central fibre IP (Internet Protocol), thereby opening the system up to wider integration with access control and other relevant applications in the future.

Smith, at the time had responsibility for helping colleagues to find and establish working partnerships with suppliers.  He was also assigned the task of managing surveillance improvements for the university.  Smith and Edwards started to investigate suppliers who they could work with to get advice and to define the surveillance strategy.  In early 2005 more budget was allocated for new security cameras and a decision needed to be made whether this was the time to migrate systems from analogue-based CCTV to IP-Surveillance.

Smith highlighted the issues they were grappling with:  "We already had 90 analogue CCTV cameras and could not afford to scrap all of these and replace them with new network cameras.  Because of this we thought we might have to run the old analogue system separately from the new IP-Surveillance system.  I approached one of UEA's existing security suppliers to explore the issues – the supplier did not even suggest investigating network video and recommended staying with an analogue CCTV system."

Smith consulted the UEA's in-house IT department for their views on analogue and IP-Surveillance.  They recommended adopting IP-Surveillance, especially as the university had an excellent IT infrastructure in place which could easily support the transmission and storage of video images from network cameras.  The IT department was so happy with the idea that they agreed to take over any hardware maintenance and firmware upgrading of new network cameras, freeing-up some additional budget for the Estates department which had set aside a specific maintenance budget to support the security system.

Identifying an appropriate installation partner
The task then turned to finding an installer that had experience in IP-Surveillance, who could lead the installation and help integrate the cameras into the university’s network.  The university wanted to use a local supplier with a clear focus on offering high quality customer service and having some vision of where security developments were heading.  Smith contacted several known security system installers across the east of England including a company called Check Your Security based in West Somerton, close to the Norfolk coast and about 10 miles north of Great Yarmouth.

Check Your Security (CYS) has a skilled, specialist team which covers a wide range of disciplines including analogue and IP security system installation, networking, telecommunications and software.  Check Your Security has a strong track record in integrating existing CCTV systems into future-proofed IP-Surveillance systems.  They also work with any legacy system, whether it is IP or analogue CCTV, video encoders, transmitting over copper, coaxial or fibre optic cabling.  The company was founded by Carl Pace, who is the managing director & Clinton Button who is installation and support manager.

Pace previously worked for Microsoft where he developed an interest in integrating IP-based security systems.  Pace pursued this interest further by working with a large UK-based security company which focused on traditional CCTV security installations, which he could see was reluctant to investigate the opportunities presented by IP-Surveillance.  Frustrated at this company’s lack of foresight, Pace & Button broke away to set up Check Your Security to explore the enormous potential of IP-Surveillance in 2005.

Check Your Security is an Axis, Milestone and Mobotix partner and also works closely with distributor ADI-Global, who in 2004 opened a new division, dedicated to selling IP-products and launched a new partner network programme called Network Video Integration Partner (NVIP).  The aim of the NVIP programme was to find, train and support specialist installers to offer the largest range of IP and digital technology covering CCTV, access control, environmental and building management systems.

The programme is designed to help end-users gain the reassurance that the partner company is technically proficient, trained to manufacturers’ standards, and also understands networks (LAN, WAN, Wireless etc.)  Check Your Security joined the programme in 2005 and experienced 200% year-on-year growth and became ADI-Global NVIP 'Partner of the Year' in 2007 in recognition of their achievements with installations at a number of leading companies in the East of England.

When Smith met Check Your Security for the first time back in 2006, Pace recommended carrying out an Enterprise-wide Audit Report (EAR) of the UEA's existing surveillance system to determine what was working, what required re-configuring or maintenance work and what was in too poor a state to keep.  Carl's initial assessment was that the security team were handicapped by the equipment currently in place and could be made a lot more effective with the installation of a digital surveillance system.  Pace and the UEA were also very concerned about the control room, as it was not fit for purpose due to the excessive heat, unreliable equipment and its inability to produce the necessary recorded images for investigating incidents.

Trial and roll out
Pace recommended conducting a trial of network cameras at one of the campus' car parks, attaching network cameras to a car park barrier area with the addition of an intercom.  Using a PC connected in a security officer's lodge, the UEA security team could see the quality of the images produced by the camera.  This trial addressed all of the image quality issues as it was producing better pictures than their existing analogue cameras.  Images could then be fed through Milestone XProtect Enterprise video management system (VMS) software which made it simple to view, handle and record images, allowing shots of the driver and the car to be easily matched.  Smith saw the potential of the system and was convinced to go further with IP-Surveillance.

The UEA decided to embark on an ambitious project to upgrade their existing analogue CCTV system to IP Surveillance, install new network cameras to provide surveillance to outdoor areas on the campus and to completely revamp the control room to install a video management system that could capture and distribute images of incidents that happen on campus.  Smith and the senior management team at the university made a strategic decision to choose an open IP-based platform that would take advantage of UEA’s extensive fibre network infrastructure and be future-proofed from an upgrading and integration with other systems perspective.  The university commissioned Check Your Security to manage what was to become an initial eight month project.

Outdoor camera coverage was one of the areas identified as in need of improvement.  The UEA had previously been reluctant to significantly invest in new analogue cameras due to the expense of the installation.  Key areas that required camera coverage were ‘The Street’ with banks and shops and 'The Square' which is the campus' central outdoor meeting place.  Cameras were to be used to reassure students when walking from their halls of residence to the campus which, in some areas, meant providing coverage in open parkland.

Getting technical
Check Your Security operates on a 'best of breed' approach with regards to all of the equipment it installs they offer systems from various world leading security companies.  Pace knew that Axis network speed dome PTZ cameras were ideal for providing surveillance in large open spaces.  He specified 30 AXIS 232D and AXIS 233D Network PTZ Dome cameras and a range of Mobotix M12 megapixel cameras.  The AXIS 233D offers 35x optical zoom and is ideal for surveillance in open areas with the ability to quickly focus on specific detail.  For the university’s existing 90 analogue cameras, Check Your Security installed 23 AXIS 243Q, & 243SA four and single channel video encoders.  The encoders are used to digitise video signals from UEA’s existing analogue cameras.  The AXIS 243Q can deliver simultaneous Motion JPEG and MPEG-4 video streams plus video motion detection.  The encoders can also be used to control PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) and dome functionality on a wide range of analogue cameras.

The control room was completely transformed.  The bank of video recorders and multiplexers were replaced by, three workstations two of which with three 24" monitors and a manageable number of LCD wall mounted screens.  Check Your Security installed Milestone's Enterprise video management system.  In terms of storage the university currently uses four HP servers.  The three recording servers are each configured with 16 Terabyte capacities.  Because these servers have flexible direct attached storage, scaling storage requirements to whatever size UEA requires both now and in the future is relatively simple.  These servers have flexible attached storage that can grow to very large capacity of 80 Terabytes each; there is also no limit to the amount of servers that can be used giving the university a truly scalable solution that can grow too many 100’s if not 1000's of cameras.

Rapid and effective response to incidents
Trevor Smith, campus services manager, UEA, commented on the new system:  “Using IP-Surveillance has provided us with a major increase in the effectiveness of my 32-strong manned guarding team.  We fully use the functionality of our IP-Surveillance system, with features such as motion detection, zoning and tripwire to trigger alarms only when individuals enter restricted areas for example.  As any security manager knows, video footage is ideal to ascertain the movement and actions of an individual, but a good still picture is crucial for identification, and this is what our IP-Surveillance system now delivers.  The clarity of the images is excellent, and with Milestone’s software and Axis’ network cameras and encoders we can quickly hone in on the images we need to send to our teams, or to the police, via email or on a DVD disc”.

"Instead of my guards sitting and viewing screens all day, looking for suspicious behaviour, the new system does this for them.  Using motion detection and other triggers we focus on checking event exceptions.  If we want to investigate more, we simply look back at the recorded footage.  This means that more of my security staff can be out on patrol and targeting the areas where these incidents occur."

System set for further expansion
Since this initial installation we have upgrade the system to Milestone XProtect Corporate give us the ability to connect1000’s of cameras should we wish as well as to integrate various other systems and hand held devices such as both iPad and phones and other Windows or android devices to our unified Windows based graphical user interface which our security personnel are well acquainted with.

Because the IP-Surveillance system is based on an open IP platform, adding additional cameras is not an issue – this scalability was one of the key attractions for the UEA.  The UEA is now also looking to replace its existing analogue cameras with new network cameras.

Carl Pace, managing director, Check Your Security, comments: "The system is now extremely scalable and flexible from a hardware, and software perspective.  The University now has in place in essence a limitless system, capable of growing to thousands of cameras across multiple sites using multiple servers, whilst having the ability to be integrated with the campus’ access control and ANPR systems if necessary.  With this implementation of Milestone Corporate’s X Protect Enterprise, the UEA has one of the most flexible network video implementations available in the world today."

"Being one of the industries’ leading and most open IP system providers offering choice by installing and supporting numerous world leading systems means that we can suggest best-of-breed equipment for our customers- this is welcomed by our customer that for years have been plagued with proprietary and expensive closed and inflexible systems.  In this instance, the Milestone video management system (VMS) can work with over 800 different cameras and other devices and offer the University the widest choice of devices available in the market today. "

For Check Your Security, this eight month project turned out to be a six year partnership with the UEA, as the university continues to expand its systems further they know that they have widest number of choices in terms of hardware that they can use now and in the future.  Further projects over the last six years have included the construction of new halls of residence for 700 students and new teaching facilities to support 'INTO' - the UEA's programme for overseas college students, as well as new academic buildings, extensions to the university’s sports park and the construction of a biomass power plant.

Integration with IP access control
The UEA is continuing to investigate ways of integrating more systems onto the IP backbone of the campus.  Access control and Intruder systems are major issues for the campus, with 42,000 card holders’ staff, students and alumni members and other universities and colleges allowed access into the campus buildings.  Everyone who is eligible to be on campus has an access card for the Gallagher Security Systems - Cardax access control system.  This card provides access to areas they are authorised to visit.  In the future this card could offer Oyster card becoming similar to London Transport's Oyster card, which also combines payment with access control for London’s underground trains and buses or be utilised to hold student Biometric information. Pace comments:

"We have worked closely with Gallagher/Cardax in the past and are confident of bringing the systems together on the IP network.  Using the network cameras and data from Cardax both of which utilise Microsoft SQL as their back ends, we could quickly see who has been denied access at an access point, for example.  The card could also be used as a door key for students entering their halls of residence."

"One area we are investigating is automatic charging for car parking, using network video cameras and either these access cards or automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).  This is now feasible via Milestone Corporate XProtect options.  We are also looking at using Milestone’s ANPR functionality to help with identifying cars which are not registered to be on campus and, where appropriate, to pass registration plates onto the police."

Both Edwards and Smith at UEA are very fortunate to have found a partner such as Check Your Security and for the company to be based so close to the campus.  Check Your Security has managed to understand and work effectively to deliver on UEA's vision for surveillance and are available to demonstrate and explain in depth new hardware and software technology the UEA could be interested in as and when it becomes available.

System built for the future as well as the present
Steve Edwards, Electrical Design Engineer, University of East Anglia, commented: "It was extremely important that we could build a relationship with a company that were willing to take the time to understand our unique set of requirements.  This is cutting-edge technology and we were fortunate that these skills and knowledge were available to us from a locally based company.  We have no doubt that this system has allowed our security division to offer an enhanced level of service to our students and staff.”

Trevor Smith, Campus Services Manager for UEA summarises: "We are very pleased with our partnership with Check Your Security.  Carl and his team understood our vision and could advise us and translate this vision into action.  The UEA senior management sees that the surveillance system we now have in place is an asset and it fits in perfectly with our wider integration plans.  It has radically changed the way we work for the better.  We can be so much more effective in dealing with the few incidents we have now.  We have a system which has room to grow and develop and a great platform to build on.  We are very confident that we will work with Check Your Security on future projects."