Digitally Secure

Digitally Secure
  • CHICAGO, IL-The next time you stroll into the lobby of Chicago's Talbott Hotel be sure to smile. Your image will be captured by the hotel's recently installed Intelligent Video Management System (IVMS) from 3VR Security. The sophisticated digital surveillance platform has the ability to send audio, video, and email alerts of your arrival, and more.

The Talbott Hotel's system, installed by a team led by 3VR Security's systems solutions architect Jason Canada with The Talbott's manager of information technology, Pete Horvath, features a 3VR c600 core device and three multiple 1600e units, each of which can support up to 16 cameras.
The 149-room Talbott, a luxury boutique hotel on the city's Gold Coast, recently replaced its five-year-old digital video surveillance system with 3VR technology and saw dramatic improvements in operating ease and performance, said The Talbott's general manager Troy Strand.

"In the past, training on our DVR system was expensive, difficult, and time consuming," he said. "Training on the 3VR system is simple and easy. Many of our employees, who were given access to the system, understood and were using it without any training. When training was provided, they were confident they were using the system to its potential. The system controls are well thought-out and extremely intuitive to use."

The Talbott's system, installed by a team led by 3VR systems solutions architect Jason Canada with The Talbott's manager of information technology, Pete Horvath, features a 3VR c600 core device and three multiple 1600e units, each of which can support up to 16 cameras. Currently, the hotel has 34 cameras in use, and plans are to double the Talbott's 50-camera capacity later this year. A server room is in the hotel's basement.

The 3VR system represents emerging technology with its better resolution, longer storage length, and more features within the camera systems, such as facial recognition and motion capture, thus functioning as a kind of additional security detail, Horvath said. "We can identify employees as well as potential safety threats, and the system can locate and define objects within specific rooms. Cameras are installed in back-of-house, where employees work, and in the lobby areas."

Currently there are no cameras in the hallways but eventually the hotel will install two cameras on each of its 15 floors. Hotel staff understand the necessity, given that within a small workplace sporadic theft occurs, Horvath said.

The standalone security system, which is tied into the Talbott's email system but not to its digital music system, has had few problems since setup, he said. "3VR has 24-hour tech support, and I have Jason's cell phone and desk phone numbers. We currently have four high-resolution PCs to monitor the system. We also have a night auditor and night staff, and I'm on call at all times. There are always at least five staff members here."

In addition to monitoring the motion of people and objects, Horvath can create events within the 3VR system, receiving alarms based on events such as bags left unattended for a set period of time. The footage of a variety of events and actions may then be burned onto CD for the police. "This is the direction that hotel security is heading," Horvath said. "The cost of a 24-hour onsite security person is no longer always necessary."

Some hotels are part of larger, diverse properties, but even in a hotel such as the Talbott, which doesn't have the manpower for a large security staff, dozens of cameras can cover various points of interest areas such as lobbies, halls, and employee and storage areas, he said. "We've seen a post-9/11 demand that hotels ensure guest safety and accountability over employees. There's an appetite to increase both the efficiency of operations and to improve ways to protect guests."

The 3VR core machine, which looks and feels like a video recorder, but in real time, indexes and categorizes everything it sees-faces, objects, and motions, executive vice president/co-founder Tim Ross said. "The system can take a mathematical model of a face to compare to a watch list."

One guard can monitor five times as much as he could with a traditional system, he said. "The system also can trigger an alert for known troublemakers if they appear on any camera. These are very flexible alerts, including emails and pagers, and we help to preempt incidents such as theft. All the information is in a searchable database with video indexed in real time."

The ability to link across time separates 3VR from its competition, he said. "We've seen in a number of our installs that in the time it takes the police to show up, our clients can build a complete case file of an incident, burned to a CD. The files can be shared across multiple facilities such as in hotel chains."