The Oxford Collection of 16 hotels in four Western states is upgrading its security camera platform to Verkada, taking advantage of its artificial intelligence-based analytics and remote management, says Corporate IT Support Manager Kevin Hagan.

Sep 16 2022

New Surveillance Camera Technology Gives Businesses More Than Security

Built-in analytics, face recognition and more also help organizations improve customer service and operations.

IP-based security camera systems have seen significant technological advances in recent years, from higher-resolution lenses and cloud storage to artificial intelligence-based video analytics, and the Oxford Collection of hotels plans to take full advantage.

The hotel chain has begun to replace an antiquated mix of IP and analog camera systems with a new Verkada security camera and analytics solution across its 16 hotels in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

The security benefits of the new system are many, allowing hotel management to use a cloud-based tool to remotely investigate incidents and discover persons of interest through search metrics and face recognition, says Kevin Hagan, the hotel’s corporate IT support manager.

For example, Hagan says, “if we know an incident involves someone in a red shirt with a baseball cap, we can search by those metrics and quickly find the footage.”

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Many organizations, including the Oxford Collection, are investing in new IP-based security camera solutions with video analytics to provide real-time situational awareness, bolster security and offer insights that enable them to better manage business operations.

The amount of information businesses can get from raw video feeds is low. It’s analytics that provides value, and new cameras with resolution ranging up to 4K are enabling video surveillance providers to incorporate analytics features into their video management software, says Mike Jude, IDC’s research director for video surveillance and vision applications.

“Traditionally, the video surveillance market was driven by hardware with better cameras,” he says. “In the future, it’s going to be driven by better software.”

Today, a company with a manufacturing plant can leverage video analytics software to monitor for quality assurance, track inventory and ensure worker safety, he says. For example, analytics software can alert management when manufacturing supplies are low or identify employees who are not wearing personal protective equipment on the factory floor.

DIVE DEEPER: Learn how video analytics can provide your organization a competitive edge.

How Intelligent Video Surveillance Can Improve Safety and Operations

The IT department at the Oxford Collection headquarters in Bend, Ore., piloted several IP-based video surveillance systems, but it standardized on Verkada for several reasons. Its high-quality cameras, video analytics capabilities and cloud-based storage and management software will enable the hotel chain to create a unified camera system and easily manage and support video surveillance across its hotels.

“It was the best fit for us as far as quality, searchability of footage, storage and archiving,” Hagan says.

The Oxford Collection has not yet standardized on a video platform. It uses seven different camera systems that store video onsite using digital video recorders (DVRs) and network video recorders (NVRs).

Today, investigations require onsite staff to manually sift through video to find footage. They must then save video files onto a USB drive or burn a disk to make it available to corporate executives. In contrast, Verkada, with its cloud-based storage and management software, will provide hotel leadership remote access for the first time. The company can also email a link to police, providing law enforcement access with a customizable expiration date.

The company typically stores video footage for 30 days, but it can archive foot-age and store it long-term if needed.

“The scalability and flexibility are unmatched with anything we previously had,” Hagan says. “If an incident arises that has a potential legal implication with a guest or employee, it’s easy to search and go right to that point in time.”

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Discover how to modernize your video surveillance.

The company, which plans to upgrade the camera systems across its properties over the next five years, began at the Oxford Hotel Bend, its flagship site, and will fully upgrade its Oxford Suites Redding hotel in California with 30 new high- definition and 4K cameras this year.

So far, the IT staff has installed 20 cam-eras, situated in the Bend hotel’s new Roam restaurant, in front of the hotel, and in the valet parking area and an alleyway. The team will add eight more cameras this year in an adjacent parking garage.

The company uses Verkada’s license plate recognition technology to help police with investigations. It also uses the cameras and analytics to improve customer service and better manage operations. Hotel managers check the restaurant dining area in real time, and if it’s busy, they can augment restaurant staff with hotel staff, Hagan says.

The Verkada cameras, which run on Power over Ethernet, are easy to install and manage, says Matthew Miller, Oxford’s systems analyst. The IT staff only needed to install Category 6 cabling.

“It’s pretty much set it and forget it,” Miller says. “When we need it, it’s there, and it’s cloud-based, so we don’t have to fuss with on-premises storage.”

Using Video Surveillance to Protect Priceless Art

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has installed more than 600 Axis Communications cameras that cover the 650,000-square-foot property, including more than 100 galleries that display 65,000 pieces of art.

When Eric Drewry, the museum’s director of protection services, arrived a few years ago, he needed to update the DIA’s 200 mostly analog cameras, of which only 40 percent worked.

He upgraded to new Axis IP-based high-definition security cameras and two new video management applications — one for video analytics, the other a museum-specific motion-detection and alarm software.

Now, when visitors get too close to the art, the software automatically triggers an alert, and a recorded voice warns visitors to step back. The software also pulls up the video feed and displays it on the video wall at the museum’s operations center, allowing security staff to see the incident live.

“Security is a big challenge. There is no way we can do it with security officers alone. The cameras and analytics are our eyes, especially when it comes to object protection,” Drewry says. “It makes our team smarter and more efficient.”

Each incident is categorized. The security staff exports the data to Microsoft’s Power BI analysis software and creates a heat map over the museum’s floor plan to show which pieces of art are most frequently touched. That enables Drewry to refine how security officers are deployed.

DISCOVER: Explore how modernized video surveillance can improve your customer experience.

“We tell them, ‘You might have an area of responsibility that spans four or five galleries, but your primary focus is this one gallery because people are touching that one object more than anything else,’” Drewry says.

The DIA, which stores video on servers but plans to move to cloud storage, is also using video analytics to improve traffic flow in its exhibit designs and to drive fundraising. The staff uses analytics to see how people move through the institute and to determine which galleries are most popular. The development team shares this data with potential sponsors when soliciting donations.

“We can show the data to a family, and they know what they are getting from their sponsorship,” Drewry says.

How Video Surveillance Can Help Secure Expensive Vehicles

Elsewhere, Fun Town RV, a recreational vehicle (RV) dealer with 13 locations in Texas, Illinois and Oklahoma, standardized on Verkada because the company needed a cloud-based video surveillance solution with high-definition and 4K cameras, plus artificial intelligence-powered video analytics, such as face and license plate recognition.

Its previous cameras were about 10 years old, and its on-premises DVRs and NVRs were starting to fail and crash with increasing frequency, says Malachi Salazar, the company’s IT director.

The IT department installed dome cameras to monitor outdoor entrances, the dealer lots and the RV storage facility at its superstore in Cleburne, Texas. Indoors, the IT staff placed dome cameras at doors, in the showroom and in the finance office.

“In case there is litigation, we have video recordings of negotiations and people signing the documents of what they agreed to,” Salazar says. “We have proof of exactly what happened, versus a ‘he said, she said’ situation.”

Photography by Timothy Park

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