Bar / Bowling Alley Surveillance Case Study

By: John Honovich, Published on Jan 18, 2011

In this case study, we examine an end user who owns two very different local businesses and decided on different surveillance solutions for each ofthem. The owner lives in a small US town and has owned the local bowling alley for decades. In 2008 he purchased another local business – a bar/nightclub across town. He completely renovated the new building, yet failed to include surveillance in the build out planning.

In 2009 the owner decided to outfit both of his local businesses with surveillance and recognized that his needs were quite different for each location.

Let’s examine the bowling alley first:

The facility is ancient. While the owner has added some of the newer bowling alleytechnology over recent years, the basic wiring and infrastructure platform are primarilyoriginal materials. At only 7,000 sqft, this bowling alley is about one third the size of modern day centers, though still essentially a giant square box for surveillance coverage purposes. Because the owner primarily needed only simple area-coverage and wanted to avoid adding to his cabling nightmare, indoors he installed 10 wireless D-Link DCS-920 cameras that he could power using existing outlets. Unbelievably, the owner settled on an outdoor solution consisting of two more DCS-920s pointing out windows from the inside.

Now let’s take a look at his bar/nightclub surveillance solution:

This facility is basically a brand new build out using only the original building shell. Similar to his bowling alley (though ½ the size), the new place is also basically a giant box but with many additional factors needing consideration. For instance, he placed cameras at cash-handling locations (e.g. 3 bars), at 2 entrances where cover charges are paid and the back office counting areas had to have hi-resolution, good frame-rate capabilities. Finally, the floor coverage cameras required good low light function, with wide angle views.

For the club surveillance solution the owner invested in Vivotek FD7131 IP PoE dome cameras throughout, using the free Vivotek ST7501 VMS software for recording on a high-end Dell PC. The owner figured the white-light emitting illuminators he noted in literature for the FD7131 would be sufficient for the low lighting environment of his club,especially in the cash-handling areas. He was mostly wrong, though the cash areas were adequately lighted using this model camera and additional existing stationery lighting.

Notables: The owner researched everything on-line before he made his separate buying decisions. This is clearly rising trend as people look to the Internet to DIY. The choice of D-Link and Vivotek are not surprising as they are likely too of the most commonly cited/sold 'budget' surveillance products on the market.

Conclusions: Is the customer happy? He would tell you he is. While he may be happy, we believe he could have made slightly better choices – especially when management functions are factored.

Since he purchased both systems at the same time, and he thinks Vivotek is ‘high-tech’, he could easily have wired the bowling alley with the same FD7131 models he has in his nightclub or gone with a slightly costlier model of this brand like the IP7161. He could’ve then used Vivoteks ST3402 recording software (bundled free) or another VMS for both locations enabling him to manage all of his cameras on one platform. Having (and managing) two separate systems is time consuming and impractical. The time savings alone would justify the slightly increased hard cost of having compatible systems, including ease of use, training and remote access management functionality.

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