Stuart Mathews, working for principal contractor, Degree C Electrical, has installed an electronic security solution for Devonport Council, incorporating Inner Range Integriti control panels, Hikvision CCTV cameras, Axxon servers and VMS, and Jacques intercoms. This integrated solution is highly secure and incorporates considerable automation and remote control.
LIVING City is the largest urban renewal project ever undertaken in regional Tasmania and is designed to revitalise the town of Devonport, which serves a regional population of 60,000. The ongoing project revolves around the newly constructed paranaple precinct and includes the construction and restoration of multiple buildings connected by public spaces.
The masterplan at Devonport hinged on bringing together multiple key agencies into a central space supported by parking and dining facilities and linked by public spaces for gatherings and market days. The overall vision extends from the paved areas of the paranaple precinct’s Market Square into green spaces connecting the precinct with picnic areas, playgrounds, walkways and cycle paths to be created along the riverfront in phase 2 of the project. This connective tissue is a key aspect – paranaple is the indigenous name for this section of river.
Typically, we’d dive headfirst into operational requirements, but the complex nature of the paranaple precinct and the security systems supporting it, means mapping out the solution in advance is worthwhile. It’s not the easiest thing to imagine Devonport Council’s security and automation solution. The largest portion of the system – the paranaple centre – has a way of overshadowing smaller yet significant parts.
There are 4 Inner Range Integriti panels supporting 126 doors driven by 13.56MHz Inner Range Sifer prox readers. As well as door alarms, Integriti also handles alarm events from PIRs around the site. On the CCTV side, there are 4 Axxon servers supporting 151 Hikvision cameras – the fixed domes cameras are 4MP, the 14 Darkfighter X PTZs externally are 2MP running at full resolution and full frame rate with 30 days storage. On the storage side, there’s 20TB storage for the carpark and food pavilion, 20TB in the art gallery and 30TB in the paranaple centre, with additional storage planned. The application also features 3 high level integrations; Integriti to Jacques Intercoms, Integriti to Axxon and Integriti to the Condeco Room Booking System.
As well as being the largest Inner Range integration in Tasmania, this application is also the first major project deploying the new AxxonNext VMS. AxxonNext delivers Devonport Council advanced analytics, such as motion detection, licence plate recognition and facial recognition to assist with viewing and searching archived footage. CSD supplied the entire solution from reed switches through to the Axxon servers, which the CSD team pre-configured, as well as assisting with enrolment and programming of cameras and analytics.
According to local electrical communications and systems integrator, Stuart Mathews, the solution is integrated with all parts of the site via fibre links. And he points out that a defining characteristic of this integration is that the central precinct was greenfield – the Arts Centre building was an historic courthouse now fully refurbished and all the other structures were built after the site was cleared of an old carpark, the old council chambers (which moved away during the build) and a disused police station.
“There’s now access control and alarms, video surveillance and intercoms located at every site, with the entire system linked back to a master workstation at Council Chambers in the multipurpose paranaple centre building,” Mathews explains. “These systems provide safety, security and efficiency across the site and the connecting public spaces, and the integrated solution is designed to expand as the project moves forward.”
After chatting for a few minutes, it’s clear Mathews is deep Inner Range – he’s been installing electronic security solutions for 28 years, starting out on Concept 2000 when he was just 18 years’ old. It’s equally clear that the last 3 decades integrating electronic security have not dampened his enthusiasm.
“This is the first time Inner Range has done an integration of this size and complexity in Tasmania – the CCTV, the intercoms, the gate control, the booking system – it’s very exciting,” he says. “The entire Living City project has been a very big development here in Devonport – for Tassie, it’s a substantial, high-tech system that’s been installed.”
Nature of the Application
At this point, we’re passing through Market Square towards the paranaple centre from the carpark. The precinct itself is on a large scale and the paranaple centre is an impressive structure. Heading inside I get a sense not only of inviting and open spaces but the quality of the design and fittings. There’s a reason the security solution here is cutting edge, I think to myself. Deliberately or not, this building feels like a pointed technological expression of the community integration Devonport Council envisions taking place across the precinct.
“Living City kicked off 3 years ago – it’s all part of Council’s ongoing push to reinvigorate the Devonport region,” explains Jamie Goodwin, project manager, Devonport Council. “The project has 3 stages with the first recently completed. At its heart is this new multi-purpose building called the paranaple centre; which houses Devonport Council Chambers, Devonport Library, Services Tasmania, Online Access Services and others; as well as the paranaple convention centre on the 4th floor.
“There’s an adjacent multi-story carpark, a dining pavilion called Providore Place, which comprises 7 dining tenancies, and a new regional art gallery – the paranaple art centre. All these are connected by a public space called Market Square. Moving forward, Stage 2 will be a new development between Rooke St and the riverfront, while Stage 3 is the final stage of development.”
Luke Walder, Devonport Council’s IT co-ordinator, is responsible for street cameras in the town’s CBD, and says there was a general focus on safety and security of the public and council staff within the parameters of the development – this formed a platform for nature of the security solution.
“The engineering specification fed into aspects of the solution – we knew we wanted certain doors controlled by the access control system but there was no rigid operational guideline within the tender for how the solution should work,” he explains. “Instead this was something which developed while speaking with Stuart and as our needs and the capabilities of the solution became clearer. For instance, building access control and lift operation are now largely automatic – doors and lifts are locked in the evening and unlocked in the morning, with each individual tenancy managed independently.
“The system installed includes access control, CCTV, alarms – there’s a Jacques intercom system which is linked and used to control external doors and lift control, and there’s low level lift control and gate control in the carpark area. The next phase will see the system going over the road and down to the river – that phase is due for completion by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, the 16-camera street CCTV solution installed in the Devonport CBD can be accessed by council staff from the security workstation here and will be fully integrated with Axxon soon.”
Being the IT co-ordinator, you’d expect Walder to have been heavily involved on the network side of the system, but he says it didn’t work out that way at all.
“Because was no cutover from legacy equipment it was about setting aside rack space in each area and Stuart taking care of the rest,” he says. “The networking, the servers, the cameras – it’s all new technology Stuart has set up. And given the system is on its own network, IT did not need heavy involvement to get things to completion. Stuart knew what he needed – he put in the right infrastructure – he did a better job of cabling than we have – so from that IT perspective, the system was well taken care of. It was good to have someone come in and supply, maintain, train and do the handover.”
With any access control solution transferring or building the database can be one of the most complex tasks. But according to Goodwin, that part of the job went smoothly with some of the 500 cardholders brought across from the old database and other loaded up during the commissioning process.
“We also needed to keep the different tenancies separate – each tenancy had different access rights and individuals within those entities have different access rights – that had to be managed,” Goodwin says. “For instance, some staff have access to the server room and others don’t. We had to convey all those layered requirements for staff access to Stuart, so he could programme the database. This was done in part with a map showing the various spaces in the multipurpose building. And there was a cut-off time we had to be on top of.
“With the new system set up, what’s great is its flexibility. If someone loses a card, you can just log in and deactivate the card – our building manager, Jacqui Thomson of Knight Frank Tasmania, is also able to set up new users and print cards very quickly and easily. There’s also an optional wrist band, which makes access even faster. In the past there have been a reasonably high loss rate of cards – that’s what motivated us to get the wrist bands – it makes it easy for busy staff not to mis-lay their credentials, but it makes presenting credentials more intuitive as well.”
Before heading to the security workstation to drive the system, we look at some images on Walder’s computer showing the performance of Darkfighter X PTZs at night in external locations. As we found in our SEN review last year performance is strong. Walder says that in the footage we are viewing the camera was not specially set up to handle low light, the team just decided to point it down a dark alley and see what happened.
“Low light performance surprised me – being able to go into night mode when looking down an alley and suddenly make out objects – roller doors, rubbish bins, people in the shadows – we could not do that before – you don’t see those details normally,” Walder says. “It’s impressive, especially compared to what we used to have, which was analogue cameras converted to IP.”
No, there’s no IR on this scene and the lane is dark to the naked eye…
While the surveillance system has considerable capability, Goodwin explains that it’s an investigative tool more than anything.
“The video surveillance component is retrospective, it’s not monitored live, though we could use it to help secure special events if required and we certainly share video with police investigators,” he says. “The system’s search function means it’s great for that – we’ve had a few incidents in the carpark and the team could very quickly see what was happening and manage investigations.”
Driving the System
Jacqui Thomson, building operation manager, Knight Frank Tasmania, is tasked with managing Devonport Council’s integrated security solution on the twin screens of the security workstation, with CCTV running on AxxonNext VMS on one side and Inner Range’s Integriti Gatekeeper management system on the other.
Thomson is thoroughly competent with the system and you can tell she’s been exploring system functionality. She steers around effortlessly – often using shortcuts – at one moment driving the CCTV system through AxxonNext, at the next moment viewing video streams associated with events through Integriti Gatekeeper, while exploiting the mapping capabilities of both.
Thomson also has the security app and CCTV app on her phone says she’s constantly getting people calling her in relation to aspects of the system at all hours and she drives doors, manages meeting space and views camera footage from wherever she happens to be.
“That remote app is very useful – over Christmas I was in Perth and was able to check on doors and view footage – the streaming is great – high resolution and real time,” Thomson explains. “There’s also analytics in the system – we use motion in area, and I have used line crossing as well. When it comes to the VMS side, I keep an eye on the system when in the office and if there are events, I can call for a response. The system is not monitored live, but it’s recorded – so a lot of my engagement is retrospective, and I’ll search for motion in an area between certain times if an alarm has been generated.
Thomson says that on the access control side, managing users is easy, too.
“You can open a new user and add a card very simply, then add permission groups, times, and images, I can apply different templates depending on the user, it’s very simple and user friendly given the nature of this application,” she says. “We use time periods and scheduling a lot – I put in a date and time for building opening and closing on a bar graph, which makes it very easy. Managing meeting rooms is the same – we have public meeting rooms in the MB – they are issued access cards and can use the facilities during scheduled time – this works because it’s so easy to manage. And I can deactivate those cards at any time.
“Reporting is another strength of the system and it’s set for custom automatic reporting – tenancies get an automatic weekly report from Integriti which lets them know who has been in and out of their office, as well as the carpark,” Thomson says. “Meanwhile, I get a report every morning from security if there have been any incidents and I can then get into the system and look at the footage and see what caused an alarm. It’s great – the entire system is easy going.”
According to Mathews, the Integriti system is usually set in guard mode, which means when security staff come in, they have immediate situational awareness – which doors are open, which areas are armed.
“The icon-based schematic mapping of Gatekeeper is detailed and there’s an event log and the tool bar delivers plenty of operational power – reports, location maps, filters, guard tours, intercoms – this is handled by each agency directly via a dedicated PA station), alerts, cameras, other integrated devices and plenty more,” he explains. “Carparks, boom gate control – all the views are labelled in the schematic making them easier to find while driving the system.”
Thomson points out there’s integral mapping in Axxon as well – not only do you see the layout, but you can see the angles of view of each camera. To populate this functionality, Mathews took the site graphics from CAD drawings then uploaded them onto the system.
“Axxon’s search function is brilliant – you can select a box around an event and the system then add a date and time and bang, the system will throw up every event in thumbnails – for me it means finding events takes minutes not hours and I can then export footage to police,” Mathews explains. Analytics feed into the search functionality.
“You can search for specific car colours in the carpark – you match the colour of the car against a colour when on the screen – it’s just a click to match – and the system will find it for you,” he says. “You can also search based on parameters like size, object type, direction, colour, speed – you can add or subject as much as want – you can measure out the pixel requirement to ensure you get identification. All this makes searching so much easier. Council also uses Axxon LPR recognition to help managing the carpark. Frankly, I’ve been blown away by the performance of Axxon.”
Looking at the monitors I notice the cameras are doing well with the backlight – something about the paranaple centre is that it has plenty of natural light and that would mean challenges for less capable cameras but these Hikvision units are doing well. We’re looking through the foyer, through the glass doors and windows and across the open space beyond with everything in our scene in focus and no sign of WDR stress.
According to Mathews, when he was planning this new system and talking to Council it became clear Integriti was most suitable for the application.
“For a start, Inner Range has a practically unlimited number of site codes,” he explains. “The functionality of the building automation was another key factor – automatically unlocking areas at different times, scheduling from Jacqui’s point of view. Integriti was just a better fit and had a better interface.
“The high-level integrations were also an important factor. Integriti and Axxon work work extremely well together – it’s just an ethernet cable between the 2 systems and bang, away it goes. There’s also a high-level integration to Jacques intercom system and while the integration to the lifts is low level, reception and the tenancies can still use it to manage access to floors.”
At the heart of this integration is a network built around fibre with a core principle of total independence.
“The precinct has a fibre backbone and the security system and CCTV system are on a closed central network – there’s only one secure access point into these systems from the outside that traverses the firewall,” Mathews says. “The switches are configured so you can’t add a device to the network without an alert being activated and there are only 3 workstations on site that can access the system, as well as an authorised council workstation offsite which allows remote access. The setup for the remote connection is highly secure with intrusion attempts reported.”
As Mathews explains it, the network topology revolves around a central switch which supports the master network and each of the 3 sites are fibre back to the master switch, which includes an NVR and the Integriti panels and other equipment. From the NVRs outwards, all the internal cameras are on dedicated internal network switches which go back to the NVR via a different network port to ensure segregation.
“The idea is that for each NVR the cameras are isolated from the main security network and the security network is isolated as well so there are layers within the security network so there’s no way you can get into the system,” he says. “It also frees up bandwidth as well – each floor has its own managed network switches which go back the NVR and the outside people access image streams from the NVR not via the security network.
“We have a dedicated NBN network for the security system – I designed the system that way deliberately. It’s always in the back of your mind with a networked system carrying CCTV that if it’s used for anything else the bandwidth will be chewed up very quickly and performance will slow down – we decided to go for a dedicated system on its own internal network and we have no complaints so far, it’s been great.”
What were the challenges of the application for the integration team? In terms of the installation itself, there weren’t many, according to Mathews.
“The building was new and the only small legacy section we needed to bring supported the existing street cameras in the CBD,” he says. “We did this using wireless and brought the Milestone server across. Telstra looks after council’s infrastructure, so as part of that they needed to do some core openings and VLANs and we relocated aerials onto this new building over a weekend after doing careful planning to ensure the smoothest possible transition.”
“Another small technical challenge was installing access control on a glass door into the library in the MB – you can’t easily mount locks on a full glass door. Fortunately, there was a strip of metal on the bottom of the door and I could install an external enclosure, drop bolt, stainless steel tube and flexi-coil cabling. In this location there was no easy cable access either, so that was another challenge. It’s a dual-swing door with no stops so using a drop bolt means there’s very little alignment tolerance.
“You also need plenty of lead time to get gear down to Tasmania – you can’t just walk into a wholesaler and drive away with a van-load of gear the way you can in Melbourne or Sydney,” Mathews explains. “It takes at least a week, sometimes 2 weeks, to get everything delivered and you need everything to hand before you start work, or a small thing can delay the whole job.
“There have been many small challenges like that to work through but the biggest challenge I’ve had has been dealing with the different tenancies and their different operational methods – trying to get the system to handle the needs of individual tenancies, as well as handling the overall needs of the site.”
Walking the site
As we walk the site starting with the paranaple centre, I realise again the complexity of the solution. The multipurpose building is a big site on its own, let alone bringing in carpark, food pavilion, art gallery, Market Square and street surveillance system. Making things more complicated, the multipurpose building has multiple tenancies, each with its own requirements and management strategies.
And it’s not just the site that’s complex. The network is designed in concentric rings – each segment being an independent layer. This network topology is reflected in the physical components of the system. There’s a server room on every floor and the security system has modules in every server room, including Integriti panels and ancillaries. There’s also a monitor that allows network room display of all the cameras in its area. And this layout occurs in every building.
The first network room we visit incorporates the Milestone servers for the street surveillance system, the Axxon servers each supporting 65 cameras, as well as custom Integriti closets. These are the usual metal boxes but mounted on a hinged closet door, with all cabling coming through the back of the door where it can be accessed when the door is open. The cabling is complex. The notion of these closets is an excellent one – it keeps the space tidy and allows secure access to the back of the panels. It shows the attention to detail I see everywhere in this integration – Mathews and his team has done commendable work.
“These Integriti panel units are custom designed,” Mathews explains. “They allow us to loom the cables, use tie-bars, segregate power – it just makes wiring a lot easier, makes maintenance and future upgrades easier, it’s neater and it’s more secure – each door has its own reed switch for security purposes. The panel housings are screwed down securely to the front of each unit and there are camlocks on the doors.”
According to Mathews, in every large installation the biggest thing is cabling so in the paranaple centre he decided to run combination cabling.
“Combination cabling means we are not running multiple cables, making the installation faster and easier – you run one cable and you’re covered for everything required,” he explains. “Once the cabling is in, we peel it out into pairs – strike, reader, etc. Getting cable into reinforced concrete walls, even on a greenfield site, is so hard – that fed into the decision to use combination cabling and to make the custom cabinets for Integriti.”
The ground floor has the largest area and the greatest concentration of doors and devices, as well as duress buttons supported by an Inner Range controller. This means the ground floor network closet is heavily populated, too. There’s the NVR, the Jacques intercom system, as well as other core elements of network infrastructure, including CCTV switches and fibre racks for the runs from other parts of the precinct, and there’s the UPS.
Heading outside into Market Square, we also look at a pole between the buildings which has 4 fixed 4MP domes on it.
Mathews explains that these cameras and brackets were custom painted, and they certainly look great, as well as offering a high resolution 360-degree view that’s very useful from a monitoring and recording point of view.
We also check out Providore Place – there are challenges here for an integrator – the ceilings are very high though sightlines are generally good. Mathews points out some sweet touches, including customised reed switches – these are magnet brackets allowing flush mounting. There’s automation on all the roller doors that can be controlled by Thomson via the security workstation or the mobile app on her phone. She can view system status, lock and unlock doors while speaking to tenants, it’s instant and highly efficient.
Finally, we look at the carpark – everything here is nicely done, too. There’s camera coverage of entry points and areas of interest. There are also Axxon servers and network switches here – the physical manifestations of this layered solution.
Devonport Council’s paranaple precinct has a powerful solution that delivers excellent security, automation and overall efficiency. The network topology gives the system layered redundancy and endless expansion wherever and whenever required. Getting a solution like this together doesn’t happen by itself and Mathews concedes he did a lot of planning.
“There were 2 months of solid planning at the start – it took 4 weeks to quote the job and then 2-3 months to do more planning and initial detailed designs and drawings,” he says “I spent a lot of time here micro-managing vital areas and having meetings with Council to ensure the system was right for them. Importantly, this happened early, and the network designs were done right. Once Telstra got on board with infrastructure, we all knew the way the system needed to go.
“This has been an enjoyable job to do and it’s been great working on a local integration of this size – it’s a special solution for Tasmania. I’ve also enjoyed working with the Devonport Council team and Josh Mills from CSD has been a strong support for this project as well. Training Jacqui for this management position has been great – she picked it up very well right from the start – the first few weeks there were a lot of emails but then she started teaching herself, which was a pleasure to see.”
Meanwhile, Walder says Devonport Council is delighted with its new solution.
“In the past we had no hope of getting faces, no hope of getting number plates – we were lucky to get makes and models of vehicles and that was also the resolution we were recording at – the old system was very ordinary from an operational perspective,” he says. “But with these new cameras you can look at the wide view, then zoom all the way down to a distant corner 100 metres away and get face recognition and plates – it’s brilliant. And the Integriti system gives us security, automation and increased efficiencies, which is exactly what we needed. Jacqui can easily manage every aspect of the system on and off-site.
“From my perspective, however, what has stood out most has been the service – the constant support from Stuart. I’m so hands-off with the system compared to the way things used to be. I’ve never needed to roll my sleeves up and work on it. That’s a credit to Stuart and to the system installed here. As Jacqui knows, I’m hardly ever in her office resolving issues – that sounds like a small thing, but it feeds into operational efficiencies at every level and shows just how effective our new security solution is.” Ω
Products installed at Devonport Council include:
* 4 x Integriti panels
* 126 x Doors with 13.56MHz Sifer prox readers
* 4 x Axxon servers
* 151 x Hikvision cameras
* 16 x Hikvision Darkfighter PTZ
* 1 x Hikvision 16 channel decoder
* 3 x high-level integrations:
* Integriti – Jacques intercoms
* Integriti – Axxon
* Integriti – Condeco Room Booking System
* Custom-designed panel mounting frames.