Beirut Surveillance Project protects the city

Beirut’s recently completed surveillance system has been billed as one of the most comprehensive projects in the city’s history. Charlotte Ashley finds out why from those behind the installation.

Separate AV zones and 4K resolution were high on the agenda when a complete surveillance monitoring system was required for two new network operation centres in Beirut. Components from over twenty brands came together in an extensive installation deployed to monitor vehicles and over two million citizens passing through Lebanon’s capital.

Local integrator Guardia Systems was tasked with designing a 24/7 operational system to reduce crime and the likelihood of terrorist attacks. The company won the contract for the project after a competitive pitching process to the Municipality of Beirut and the Ministry of Interior.

Guardia Systems wanted the installation to be a template for other cities looking to better its surveillance facilities and increase public safety. “The scope of the project was such that we had to consider both the needs of the client and the safety of an entire city. We wanted to design a system that would greatly improve security, while creating a template that could be adapted for other cities,” said Chadi Rahi, business development and sales manager at Guardia Systems.

“We wanted to design a system that would greatly improve security, while creating a template that could be adapted for other cities.”

The most significant test for the integrator was bringing all aspects of the project together with the city’s governing body. “The co-ordination between different parties from the client side and the integration between different systems to provide a full turnkey solution were a big challenge for us,” comments Rahi. The end result is a city-wide network of cameras controlled from both a central control room managed by the municipality, and an additional crisis control room managed by Internal Security Forces. Both rooms house fifty operators and two data centres with a total storage capacity of five petabytes.

At the heart of the project, deployed over a year, is a Crestron DigitalMedia control system managing all operations. This allows operators to inspect vehicles and convoys from the CCTV system on a rear projection video wall in the operators’ control room, or a smart touch table if located in the crisis room.

Crestron keypads are installed for local and global lighting and touch screen control in the crisis room, with Xpanel – running on allocated supervisor workspaces – managing AV sources and UPS, generators and precision cooling. A 3-Series C93N control processor was deployed and connected to the control subnet (providing a dedicated local network for Crestron devices) to accommodate the high security level of the network infrastructure.

Beirut Surveillance Project Control Room operator deskIt was essential for Guardia Systems to deliver one interface overseeing full automation in the control room, as multiple users access the system on a daily basis. Rahi says a Crestron system was chosen over alternatives for its wide-ranging control capabilities. “Crestron is the only system which presented to us the ability to fully control the control room systems such as: lighting, drapes, AC, projectors, projection screens, environment monitoring, in addition to the video wall display with full integration with the VMS and video wall controllers.” He adds: “The ease and functionality of the Crestron system has allowed the general security operators to be able to switch between different scenes quickly and as a result, respond immediately to live events.”

The widespread distribution of cameras was one of the most challenging aspects of the project for the integrators to coordinate, according to Rahi. Two thousand cameras were distributed across 350 surveillance points in the city – each connecting back to both control rooms. This comprised fixed IP cameras deployed to monitor roads, traffic flow and pedestrians, and 360-degree PTZ cameras offering zooming capabilities of x32 from Pelco.

Following this, Autoscope EX-110 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras were installed at the entrances to the city and its main streets. The cameras collate data on the travelling speed, model and direction of vehicles, and track any vehicles without a number plate. “Our ANPR system identifies the license plate, the brand, the type (such as SUV, car or bus) and during the day the colour; all these parameters help us tag a vehicle without license plate and follow it through different cameras,” says Rahi.

The installation features two audio zones powered by Crestron Saros speakers – one for control room and one in the crisis room. Having separate zones allows supervisors to discuss high-security matters in private before sending instructions to operators in the other room. Each zone is managed by a Crestron commercial amplifier via analogue stereo pass-through outputs from six AV inputs.

The two-zone set up of the control centre facilitates quick decision making and delegation of tasks amongst members of staff. In critical scenarios, supervisors will examine content in detail and switch between different scenes in the crisis room, using the control room’s touch table with a 65-in LED display. After deciding on a course of action, senior staff can then project content from the crisis room to operators in the general control room. Here operators view surveillance on an 18 cube eyevis video wall – comprising 50-in units – and three screens powered by Viewsonic projectors.

Touch Panel at Beirut Surveillance Project control roomWith Genetec video management software running on all devices, footage can be tailored to the needs of each operator on shift with one-click, pre-programmed switching between viewing preferences of surveillance channels. Twenty-four AV sources from the video management system – including the surveillance cameras, PTZ cameras and satellite receivers – are managed by a rack-mounted 4K capable 32x32 DigitalMedia switcher. Rahi stresses the importance of this support: “4K technology allows us to get the ultimate resolution of the cameras.”

In addition to delivering 4K quality surveillance footage with zooming capabilities, it was vital for Guardia Systems to deploy a future-proof system with room for expansion. The integrator therefore used only 24 of 32 AV sources to accommodate future advancements in high resolution camera technology. The integrator will be on hand to maintain the system over the next five years. Rahi concludes: “The project was a major success for Guardia Systems since we were able to deliver the project on time without any variation on the original contract price.”



Crestron 4-room audio system and Saros speakers


Autoscope EX-110 ANPR cameras

Cisco DX80 video conferencing system and Catalyst 3850 series switches

Crestron DigitalMedia system, 3-Series control and TSW-1050 touch-screen

Eyevis SLIM rear projection cube

Genetec security centre 5.4 software

Pelco IXE31 cameras and S5230-EG1 PTZ cameras

Sharp PN-VC651A touch monitor

Viewsonic Pro8520HD projectors

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