Focused on the Bottom Line
Focused on the Bottom Line

Mar 1, 2004 12:00 PM

Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa is the first casino hotel to be built in Atlantic City in 13 years. The $1.1-billion joint venture between Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage, opened its doors on July 3, 2003, featuring a 125,000-square-foot casino, 11 restaurants, 11 retail shops, a 50,000-square-foot spa, 70,000 square feet of event space, a 1,000-seat theater, and parking for more than 7000 cars. The gaming space includes 145 gaming tables, 3,640 slot machines, Keno and a race book.

Borgata's security and surveillance personnel keep watch over the massive facility with a video surveillance and security system designed and implemented by North American Video. The system uses more than 2,000 video cameras strategically located throughout the facility and parking areas. The cameras are controlled by two Pelco CM9760 matrix switching systems.

In essence, there are two video systems deployed at Borgata. A 1312X64 matrix system is located in the surveillance department's control room and, a 896X16 matrix system is installed in the security department's control room. The surveillance system employs the majority of the cameras to monitor and record activities in the gaming areas and at locations where cash is handled. The security video system is deployed to monitor the hotel and spa facilities, shopping and dining areas, back-of-the-house areas, building perimeter and parking facilities.

The system was designed by North American Video's engineering staff in conjunction with Richard Billington, surveillance equipment manager for Boyd Gaming, and Greg Schaaf, surveillance director at Borgata.

"We approached this project in a unique manner with me being located in Las Vegas and Greg Schaaf on-site at Borgata in Atlantic City," says Billington. "We had been working on a general spec with consulting engineers about a year before a security systems integrator was selected. After reviewing several integrators, we selected an integrator that best qualified to be our eyes and ears on this massive installation. It was a management consideration as much as an equipment purchasing decision."

"The initial camera layout and system design began three years ago," says Schaaf. "When construction started, we worked very closely with the contractors and construction crews, but most of it was coordinated by North American Video. Their team put together the system layouts from the architectural plans and generated CAD drawings for the matrix systems well before we were on-site."

Things really kicked in from September 2002 through July 2003 when the casino entered the installation phase, involving about 4 million feet of cable in the video system alone. The cable required to connect the cameras was installed by Petrocelli/Palmieri Electric, who worked closely with North American Video throughout the project.

A unique aspect of the design of Borgata is that there are no catwalks in the ceilings. "This is the first casino in Atlantic City that was not required to have catwalks," explained Schaaf. "Instead, cameras were installed in the ceiling before anything was placed on the casino floor. As a result, we had to be very exact in positioning cameras since it would be difficult to change camera locations once they were installed." In the end, most of the cameras blend into the d¨¦cor.

A challenge of the security and surveillance installation at Borgata surrounded the size of the system and camera placements. Commented Schaaf: "On paper everything looks good, but then you have to deal with the reality of getting camera signals from point A to point B, while making sure all the cameras are located in the best positions and the lengths of the cable runs do not exceed performance requirements."

"We have had tours from the governor, head of the commission, attorney general and various other regulatory agencies to see the system. The performance and quality of the equipment are outstanding," Schaaf says.

Michael Schultz, director of security at Borgata, joined the staff in June of 2002 to assemble and manage the facility's security and fire command staff. "When I came on-board, my first task was to build the department, including the development of policies and procedures, and hiring of personnel. We were starting from ground zero," Schultz says.

"In addition to our security operations, fire command is responsible for the life safety systems at Borgata, which ensures the well-being of patrons and employees who enter our facility," Schultz says. "In addition to the video system in our control center, we monitor all of the system equipment for the elevators, escalators and fire alarm systems. It entails monitoring everything throughout the building and its perimeter."

Sept. 11 prompted security professionals to take a closer look at their systems and to develop policies and procedures regarding how they should respond to different events ¡ª whether it is a national or local threat. "We've worked with security consultants to develop procedures to protect the welfare of our guests and employees," Schultz says. "These plans are in place for our security team as well as our risk management department and other related departments on the property, and we conduct drills on a regular basis to maintain preparedness."

"We are looking to expand the monitoring capabilities of the security system so that I can monitor cameras from my office," he adds. "From our video security and surveillance systems to our Infographics Sapphire Pro security alarm system, the technology that we incorporated into the security department allows us to operate efficiently and retrieve information almost immediately," Schultz says.

Diane Petrone, fire command center manager at Borgata, is responsible for the daily operations of all the department's systems. The fire command center is the central monitoring point for all the non-gaming areas and all the life safety systems in the building. The center houses more than 140 VCRs that continuously tape images around the clock from every camera in the video security system. The staff changes tapes every 8 hours which amounts to approximately 3,150 tapes per week.

"From the command center we're able to control and adjust the pan/tilt/zoom and iris settings of the cameras," says Petrone. "We have two people working here at all times ¡ª one on the life safety, one on the security end ¡ª and they're constantly switching cameras and reviewing. We have three workstations, or viewing and recording stations. If an incident occurs, security lets us know and we pull the tape at the end of the shift. We review footage and locate the incident; we record it and make a copy for risk management," Petrone says.

"I'm very impressed with the fact that we generally can close a case within 24 hours. With the comprehensive camera coverage of the system and its recording capabilities, we can determine what happened with high confidence," says Petrone.

In addition to the command center's video capabilities, Petrone and her staff monitor sensors on Borgata's 45 elevators and nine escalators. North American Video also placed cameras in all of Borgata's elevators so the staff can visually monitor the elevator if it is idle too long, stuck, or in the event of a potential security problem. "This keeps us in total communication with each of the elevators so we can quickly respond to any situation that may arise," Petrone continued. "We also have excellent camera coverage in our garage, and cameras monitor an electric gate that we can control from the command center."

Since its opening, Borgata has been booked virtually every night, and the guests keep rolling in day after day. Given the high volume of traffic at Borgata, there has been little time to rest for the facility's surveillance and security staff.

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