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Woodbine Entertainment on track for DVR, software upgrade

ImageWoodbine Entertainment is off to the races as an early user of March Networks' VMS (Video Management System) software.


March 4, 2009
By Neil Sutton
Neil Sutton

VMS is a very recent addition to Ottawa-based March’s portfolio, having
acquired it from Italian firm Cieffe last year. Now rebranded and
integrated into March’s security offerings, longstanding customer
Woodbine, based in Toronto, is one of its earliest users.

VMS is a recording and video switching system platform that allows
Woodbine to manage all its cameras centrally, whether they’re IP or
older analogue models.

“As the industry moves in that direction (towards IP), we don’t want to
leave customers behind with legacy investments,” explains Peter
Wilenius, vice-president at March Networks. “They don’t want to have to
maintain separate pieces of technology.”

“The video is good, the quality is good,” says Woodbine’s senior
manager, security operations, Robin Soobramanie. “We can operate the
pan, tilt, zoom function well, but there’s still a lot more fine-tuning
and we’re still working with March on fully implementing it where it’s
100 per cent.”

Woodbine Entertainment is best known for the Woodbine Race Track in the
North West corner of Toronto — a premium track that runs thoroughbreds
in the spring and summer, as well as harness racing and a healthy
business in slot machines. The company also operates Mohawk Race Track
in Campbellville, Ont., as well as Wegz sports bar in the North end of
Toronto and the Turf Lounge, an up market restaurant with off track
betting in the city’s downtown financial district.

All of these facilities use March Networks’ DVR products through a relationship that was spawned back in 2002.
Soobramanie says Woodbine reviewed a number of different DVR products
from competing manufacturers, “and from that review with our IT
professional, our security managers, our purchasing department . . . we
viewed five different types of DVRs and went with March for our system.”

The March Networks 4000 Series recorders used by Woodbine are equipped
with four 500 GB hard drives. One of the four is set up as a fail-over
redundant if any of the main three hard drives experience a failure.
Woodbine aims to have 60 days of archived video, which should be
accommodated by the available 1.5 TB of on board storage.

“It’s made things easier. Prior to this, we used videotapes. Going
through videotapes is very time consuming. I’d say we use less man
hours with this system,” says Soobramanie.


Woodbine uses hundreds of cameras across its 800 acres of property to capture incidents.

There are cameras in the horse stables to prevent potential doping
incidents (illegally injecting horses with performance-enhancing drugs).

“Trainers are responsible for the protection of their own horses in the
barns and stables. Security personnel are stationed at strategic points
throughout the race track, but video is also available as an
investigation tool to review reported or suspected incidents of any
administration of illegal substances to horses,” says Soobramanie.
Cameras are also used to monitor health and safety issues — “We do have
slips and falls, so we can review what caused the spill, that type of
thing,” says Soobramanie — as well as keep an eye on staff and patrons.
“We have about 40 people that use the software to view and record for
evidence. There are many different investigations that we have to
review recordings for. Not everybody is computer friendly. The March
software was user friendly for these people,” he says.

Woodbine has a mix of Panasonic, Elmo and Pelco cameras. At press time,
the March VMS software had been rolled out to about 12 cameras.

“It is one of things that March has been good with us: they walk us
through, they didn’t mind us testing their product for them to see how
valuable it is. We’re still in that phase where we don’t have the full
potential of it yet, but it looks like a good system from what I can
see,” says Soobramanie.

Rob Quinn, president Quinn Digital Asset Protection based in Toronto,
worked with March and Woodbine staff as an integrator on the project.
He says the March software is so new it’s hard to get a handle on the
full extent of it, but Woodbine seems primed to make the most of it.

“All of the Woodbine cameras are (now) on March storage, whether it’s
DVR or NVR, and there are hundreds of them. The newest version of March
software talks to both the IP system and the DVRs — in other words,
they can talk to the new and the legacy through one piece of software,
which is a big selling feature for them,” he says.
“It affords them the ability to have higher frame rates, higher
resolution. In typical IP fashion, it affords them the ability to be
more creative as to where they put their cameras — they only need a
network drop nearby as opposed to hardwiring everything back to a
central location.”

Woodbine is also using March’s Enterprise Service Manager (ESM)
software to configure recorders, get health checks and do remote
updates.

There are also software tools that Woodbine hasn’t tapped, but
Soobramanie says he’s interested in exploring their potential. Among
those features are: motion detection, virtual tripwires, as well as
people and car counting.
“That would give us more of an accurate count of how many people are
coming onto our facility in a period of time. Noon might be our busy
period . . . it drops until about 3 o’clock, then picks up again. That
type of thing. We can get good reports out of it.”

The software can also be configured to detect cars going in a certain
direction (i.e., the wrong out of the parking lot), or going at a
certain speed at a certain hour. car, people, draw virtual tripwires —
set policy for cars going in a specific direction at a “There’s a lot
of features. I’m still learning what they are.”


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