Security Electronics for Museum Security

Digital video, integrated IP intercom systems and fiberoptic transmission have been used to enhance security at museums throughout the world.

Royal Academy of Arts

London, U.K.

The Royal Academy of Arts (RAA) was founded in 1768 to promote the interests of British artists; the first summer exhibition was put on just a year later. Today, it remains a hugely popular event, offering a showcase to artists from all over the world. The RAA also holds between seven and nine major loan exhibitions per year, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the U.K. and around the world.

"Like any large public building," said David Vobes, RAA Facilities Manager, "there are clear security challenges. By necessity, the building must be welcoming and easily accessible by the public. In theory, all access points of the building are public access points, but we also recognize that we hold priceless works of art, including loaned works that are more likely to be targeted by thieves." While the museum had analog CCTVs, it became clear that DVR hard drives were coming to the end of their natural life and needed to be upgraded.

In view of the outdated video solution, the then IT director David Aston decided to investigate the potential of running the CCTV system over the existing data network infrastructure. An additional eight network cameras were installed during the upgrade to IP surveillance, creating a total of 21 cameras. Two power-over-Ethernet-enabled, day-night network cameras were installed on the roof of the building; these were encased in housings for extra protection. One camera was installed in the entrance hall and three were in a separately accessed building.

Twelve of the original 13 CCTV cameras were connected to three video server blades, which were rack-mounted in the central control room. The video server blade was slotted in the control room's rack cabinet because the number of analog camera feeds involved would have otherwise demanded installation of three four-port video servers, which would have been cumbersome given the confined space. This solution also ensured that the quality of output from all cameras met pre-agreed image quality performance criteria.

"All in-house security staff," said Vobes, "can view the cameras on three different PCs; the first is in the control room in the basement; the second is at the front desk in the reception area so that night security staff can view it from there. The shop manager as well as security staff can also access the system from a PC behind the serving desk."

In August 2005, the security manager of the Munch Museum in Oslo visited the RAA just days before the Munch loan exhibition was due to open at the RAA. While touring the galleries, he requested tightened security around the fire exit points in the main galleries. The Munch Museum's security manager specifically requested a delay on the fire alarm system between the pressing of the glassed-in fire alert buttons and the release of fire doors to ensure that thieves did not use the fire alert buttons simply to create additional escape routes via the fire exits. U.K. fire regulations, however, expressly forbid this, so another solution was needed.

The only feasible option, given that it was less than one week before the Munch artworks were due to arrive from Oslo, was to deploy network cameras trained on each fire exit servicing the main galleries. Since there was no Ethernet cabling infrastructure in these galleries, the only solution was to deploy wireless-enabled network cameras across the existing wireless network. Three wireless network cameras were selected and installed by the museum's security system integrator.

Also, 12 wireless access points placed around the building provided an 11-megabyte wireless network, which is already used by the RAA team of engineers to access the building management system (BMS) for checking conditions such as temperature, humidity and lighting levels. The BMS is also used to perform maintenance checks on alarms, sensors and air conditioning units. If the temperature moves more than two degrees centigrade up or down from the optimum level or there is an increase or reduction in humidity of 5 percent, alarms would be triggered. The RAA also uses five wireless-enabled, voice-over-IP phones so that inhouse security staff can keep in touch in areas where cabling is problematic and when they need to be updating others while on the move.

The Jewish Museum

Frankfurt, Germany

The Jewish Museum in Frankfurt is one of the three major Jewish museums in Germany. It traces the interrelationship between Jews in Germany and their environment based on the example of Frankfurt. Prior to World War II, the city of Frankfurt had 26,000 Jewish citizens. Its open character was intentionally selected, as changing exhibitions are to be accessible to all interested visitors. The museumhoused in two classical mansionsis a high-risk site. Security measures, therefore, had to be implemented. The museum thought about installing extra video surveillance system, but a few problems existed.

First, several concrete columns in the entrance area obstruct viewing and restricted installation of a video surveil-lance system. Thomas Sittig, Technical Director of the Museum and the person responsible for security, noted that, "In addition to appropriate checks of baggage and persons, we have been using video surveillance since the opening. We encountered some difficulties in extending the existing system in the sensitive entrance area. On the one hand, some areas of the foyer are difficult to view; on the other hand, cable routing was made difficult because of the reinforced concrete. It was not possible to put it under plaster."

In the planning phase, Peter Kleist, Project Manager at the museum's system integrator, proposed a solution with 360 video surveillance. "The special lens of the ultra-wide-angle camera delivers a 360 image field and up to four virtual cameras can be displayed and controlled on the software." The system is installed at a height of three meters so it can be seen; furthermore, it has the whole foyer in view.

The museum's security officer can now choose between two 180 panoramas, four 90 panoramas or 360 views, using a keyboard to control the camera and all the fully electronic PTZ functions. At the same time, persons who enter a predefined area can be tracked automatically by motion tracking. "The system immediately triggers an alarm when an exhibit is removed or, for example, an unattended bag is added," explained Sittig.

Camera images are recorded by the recorder matched to the camera, explained Kleist. "The recorder is connected over a high-speed data link; we installed it behind one of the columns." Extensive search functions, programmable pre and post-alarm recording and sector naming are available for monitoring of obscured locations, such as the museum entrance area.

A total of 11 CCTV cameras monitor exterior facades, barriers and different entrances. In addition to the 42-inch plasma monitor in the central control room, pictures are also switched to a further seven control monitors at the cash desk and personnel entrance; they are also recorded by a 16-channel digital recorder in the control center.

The New Musee Quai Branly

Paris, France

The Musee du Quai Branly, dedicated to the art, culture and civilization of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, opened in June 2006. The building project, which started in 2001, was designed by Wolf prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel. The museum is unusually big; it comprises 39,000 square meters of exhibition with 300,000 objects on five floors. Launched under the patronage of UNESCO, this museum is set on the banks of the Seine River in Paris, France close to the Eiffel Tower.

To protect its valuable collections, a reliable, high-performance security intercom solution was needed. The key objective was to provide a means of contact between 60 points and the control station and, of course, assist security in safekeeping exhibits and maintain people's safety. To provide a critical communication solution, an IP intercom exchange and 11 conversation channels were installed. This limits or cancels the risk of system saturation due to multiple, simultaneous calls. The system also provided flexibility to meet special customer requirements. The stations used a special color treatment to provide for better and more harmonious integration into the site.

The Louvre Museum

Paris, France

The Louvre Museum (Musee du Louvre) in Paris, France is the largest museum in the world. It houses 35,000 works of art drawn from eight departments, displayed in over 60,000 square meters of exhibition space dedicated to permanent collections. Famous for holding several of the world's most prestigious works of art, such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Virgin and Child with St. Anne and Virgin of the Rocks, and Alexandros of Antioch's Venus de Milo, the museum benefits from a huge security system. Security officers account for over half the Louvre's 2,000 employees.

Communication is crucial for this former residence of the kings of France. In 2006, the museum decided to modernize its existing intercom system. The migration has been a very sensitive, yet successful issue. Interruption of the intercom system was not permitted. More than 200 stations, most anti-vandal door substations, are dispatched throughout this vast building. The intercom's purpose is mainly for access control for security officers and personnel. With the ability to interface with video, the IP intercom system restricts access to specific zones, such as personnel entrances, control rooms, staircases, lifts and all the other areas closed to the public, and opens doors. Most important, the intercom system allows access control to storage roomsthe huge and sacred heart of the museum.

The choice to migrate to a new platform was made for two main reasons: The first was to open up the existing system to IP to cope with any increase in museum visitors; the second was to benefit from the new security that this system implies. Partly due to the success of Dan Brown's 2003 novel "The Da Vinci Code," in 2005, the Louvre received a record 7.3 million visitors compared with 5 million visitors in the early 1990s. It further expects 9 million in 2010.

Museum of Islamic Arts

Doha, Qatar

A new museum in Doha, Qatardue to open later this yearwill house an important collection of Islamic art. The new museum has been commissioned by the Qatari Museum Authority; the architect is I.M. Pei. It will cover 31,500 square meters (340,000 square feet) and will feature a public reception area, exhibition galleries and education activities area, technical and administrative space, and a support service area. The design is very unusual from an architectural point of view as it includes five different bridges; a pair of stacked vehicular bridges and a single pedestrian bridge provide the sole means of access to the museum's offshore location in a bay. The bridges are cast-in-situ tapered sections of architectural concrete. Inside the facility, three pedestrian bridges structured in metal and glass span the central atrium.

The project called for eight-channel multiplexers for transmission of more than 400 camera signals with associated data back to the control room. "During the design phase of the Museum Of Islamic Arts, many aspects had to be considered," said Kevin Gausden, Consultant Design Engineer at the museum's system integrator.

"The design criteria required pre-alarm images of uncompressed video from all 460 cameras being recorded in real time (25 frames per second). An IP solution would not have met the criteria due to inherent issues regarding latency and bandwidth requirements, and video compression techniques."

A multi - core fiber backbone infrastructure was used to carry multiple disciplines from local floor control cabinets to the security equipment room, where receivers convert images back to coax terminations on a real-time uncompressed video basis. The synectic modular digital recording system was installed as the front-end integrated control system to record images on a time-lapse basis, thus providing the requirements of real-time pre-alarms. The product was not only used for video and telemetry transmission, but also provided the network for the RFID tagging system using built-in RS232/485 ports. The cost of project was reduced by using individual fiber converters since doing so allowed fiber cores to be saved for future project expansion.
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