Elevating Video Capabilities

Elevating Video Capabilities

Los Angeles Convention Center keeps an open mind about security solutions

The Los Angeles Convention Center attracts millions of visitors each year and is renowned internationally as a prime site for conventions, trade shows and exhibitions. Located in downtown L.A., the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) offers nearly one million square feet of exhibit hall, meeting room and amenity space, hosting 350 events annually. With full-service business centers, food courts, a 299-seat theater, 48 freight docks and on-site parking for 5,600 vehicles, the facility relies on its video security and surveillance system for a wide range of uses.

Since opening in 1971, the LACC has since undergone modernization and expansion, including the recent addition of more than 300 security cameras unified by open platform video management software (VMS) from Milestone Systems. AEG Facilities, a stand-alone division of AEG, the leading sports and live entertainment company in the world, assumed facility management of the city-owned LACC in December 2013.

Years of Involvement

According to John Russell, president of RD Systems, who has been the integrator involved with the LACC for nearly 15 years, the center has always had video. But, it came to a point where the system needed substantial expansion and improvement. A few years ago, LACC management approved a phased upgrade approach to the previous analog hybrid video system, with the goals of increasing its use and upgrading its quality and capabilities.

“The convention center has hundreds of events every year, and there are a lot of moving parts,” Russell said. “Having high-quality video available in key areas helps the center mitigate risk.”

With security always a prime concern, the center also relies on video to help capture non-security-related occurrences to resolve issues around accidents, damage to the facility or injuries.

Three primary groups within the LACC use the video system: Security, Parking and the Food & Beverage Group. According to Rubin Lechuga, vice president of security and guest services at LACC, the Food & Beverage Group uses video to monitor its pointof- sale areas, all food and beverage locations and office spaces. The parking team monitors all parking and garage areas and vehicle entry/exit points. The security group uses, manages and maintains the entire system.

Open for an Upgrade

After several months of detailed design and plan work, the team began the upgrade to the new open platform VMS being deployed in early 2018. The initial phases involved installation of a dedicated IP network for the security and surveillance system. This included a single-node fiber backbone and a series of Cisco switches throughout the entire campus, followed by the first deployment of 170 network cameras, building toward the final phase, which will include close to 400 cameras.

“We evaluated every camera location and took into consideration the scene lighting and specific need for that camera,” said Chris Gustafson, vice president of operations at RD Systems, and a project manager for the convention center installation. “It would have been easy to just drop in a repeated set of camera brands and models, but that would have limited the system’s effectiveness. We probably have about 20 different models in place, depending on the need, and the open platform VMS allows this to happen.”

The system’s current mix of 365 cameras includes a variety of highdefinition Panasonic and Hanwha Techwin cameras, including 1080P and 720P fixed cameras, 360-degree multi-image cameras and PTZ camera dome systems. With the open platform VMS, there is the freedom to choose the best technologies to meet specific budget and use requirements.

“With this upgrade, we went from having 30 standard-resolution analog cameras covering our property to having about ten times that many cameras — now all excellent quality and IP networked,” Lechuga said. “We operate a staffed, live-monitored command center 24/7, and we are now able to see almost everything happening around our 55-acre property. If we miss something, we can quickly review recorded video. The new system is great.”

RD Systems also rebuilt the LACC’s Security Command Center, which was showing its age. With large, tube-based, black-and-white monitors still in place, and furniture components that dated back some 25 years, the old command center seriously needed an upgrade.

“The LACC needed a command center that could function optimally,” Gustafson said. “They now have a multi-function security facility with multiple operator stations, and a supervisor station where the LAPD can come in and see what’s happening. It is all based on new, 55-inch high-resolution color displays that can show what the cameras have to offer.”

Access Control Integration

The convention center’s original security system used Lenel OnGuard for the access control, along with Lenel Prism for the video management. As the center’s video needs continued to grow, it was essential to maintain tight integration with the Lenel OnGuard system.

“In working with RD Systems, as well as with Lenel, they both suggested we should look into an open platform as our new video management,” Lechuga said. “We started looking at the XProtect software and its tight-knit integration with OnGuard. Situational awareness for access control is critical and we have cameras at a handful of select doors to verify credentials with an image of who came through the door.”

Lechuga explained the center is not only monitoring access control points with video, but also has nearly 700 doors that are accessible by the public, where no access control is present. The security department needs to monitor foot traffic passing through these many doors, as well as be able to see any abnormalities.

“If someone props open a door, we need to be able to quickly identify where that door is and have a camera pull up, so they know if someone’s coming in or out, if they took something or perhaps left something inside,” Lechuga said. “We need to see if someone is just having a cigarette or if something more malicious is happening. We need to take action to find out why a door is open that shouldn’t be open.”

A Smooth Transition

Because of the center’s demanding event schedule, when it came time to deploy the new system, the center needed to keep parts of the old system operational, as well as cover areas manually, to continue to ensure facility safety and security. The team orchestrated which cameras were going offline and when, so staff could be dispatched to monitor those areas while video coverage was migrated.

“The swap over was carefully planned. We worked with an engineer and put together a migration plan for taking the servers down, loading new software onto the new servers, bringing cameras into the new servers and tying them with the Lenel OnGuard system,” Gustafson said. “It was all carefully mapped out so the center knew exactly what they could see per camera, per day, per hour. Everything was planned out for them so there were no surprises.”

Gustafson explained the upgrade and swap-over process went very smoothly and ran ahead of schedule. The team was able to upgrade the VMS and migrate all 300 plus cameras to seven new servers within just two days.

“The transition was seamless, and because the new VMS is so much easier to use, very little staff retraining was needed. We were fully operational with all of the workstations updated with the client application by the end of day two,” Lechuga said. “It was a huge task, but RD Systems did a great job migrating and getting the system all situated – we had no issues at all.”

Looking forward, the center wants to add site map capabilities to the system to help operators easily follow suspects as they move from camera to camera throughout the facility. The addition of video analytic behaviors, such as people counting and directional flow, may also be in the future integration plans.

“We have so many options now with the open platform VMS in place,” Lechuga said. “We need to really look into and decide how we want to advance our video capabilities. I look forward to seeing how this evolves.”

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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