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04/16/2021

CASE STUDY: Marriott Gaylord Opryland Upgrades Video for Enhanced Risk Management, Security, Efficiency

Installation of 1,500 cameras, some in 4k, allows resort to quickly mitigate false claims and protect against liability from other potential lawsuits.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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a train is parked on the side of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

As the largest non-gaming, in-hotel exhibition space in the world, the Marriott Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center features nearly 3,000 rooms, 15 restaurants, a business center, and multiple convention facilities in Nashville, Tennessee. The 700,000-square-foot property also offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor attractions, including an outdoor golf course, and nine acres of indoor gardens, waterfalls, and a river with a Delta flatboat — all underneath climate-controlled glass atriums.

Risk management is critical at this enormous property located in the heart of Nashville's country music scene, according to Greg Pezzo, Director of Safety and Security for Gaylord Opryland Resort.

Pezzo and his team work to ensure the safety and security of the 2,500-member staff and hundreds of thousands of guests each year at the Gaylord Opryland and at the nearby 300-room Inn at Opryland. Pezzo is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the resort's fire system, security patrol, and video surveillance system. He is also the manager responsible for dealing with claims against the resort and worker's compensation issues. Pezzo has been with the Marriott organization for more than 23 years and has been at the Gaylord Opryland Resort for the last four years.

"Just after I joined the Opryland team, we decided it was time to significantly upgrade the resort's video surveillance system," said Pezzo. "The original system had older cameras and outdated video management software, and it was not functioning anywhere near the level we needed."

Resort management performed a detailed risk assessment to identify system vulnerabilities. They evaluated several years of resort data that included traffic patterns and incident locations, taking a hard look at the original video system's performance.

"We had cameras that weren't working. We had cameras installed in the wrong areas. It was very difficult to play back and extract video — and when we could get video out of the system, it was so poor it wasn't usable," said Pezzo. "It was an abysmal system for a property of this size and complexity."

A State-of-the-Art Upgrade

After the vulnerability assessment, management invested in additional security staff and new security vehicles. They also committed to investing nearly $2.5 million in a new video surveillance system, which included new cameras, system servers, and video analytics — all managed by the open platform XProtect® Corporate video management software (VMS) from Milestone Systems.

"We needed to significantly increase our video coverage throughout the property," said Pezzo. "We needed high-quality cameras, a video-optimized network server system, and an easy-to-use VMS system. And we needed to partner with an integration professional who could bring it all together."

Gaylord Opryland managers selected Nashville-based Herring Technology as their integration partner. Herring Technology offers a range of state-of-the-art equipment solutions for access control, video surveillance, intrusion alarms, fencing, lighting, and more. Herring has a long history of partnering with investigation professionals to design and deploy effective risk management systems.

"Our main objective for a video system is to help mitigate false claims and protect against liability from other potential lawsuits. Marriott is a big target and claims are expensive, so this is where our ROI comes in," said Pezzo. "With an effective camera system like we have now, we're able to see if there are inaccuracies in a claim, perhaps we can see where a guest simply tripped on their own or was doing something silly that caused an injury. Or, in the worst case, we can see where someone simply laid down on the floor and is claiming that they slipped. Having these events captured in high quality video is nearly priceless."

High Quality from End-to-End

To meet the resort's video surveillance objectives, the team specified a set of high-performance, high-quality network surveillance cameras from Hanwha Techwin America, which included a number of single-sensor 4K cameras, as well as multi-sensor panoramic 180-degree and 360-degree cameras. Currently, the resort has over 1,500 cameras installed, with more being planned.

"Our new cameras provide excellent overall quality and digital zoom. The 4K cameras are amazing — we've never seen a clearer image," said Pezzo. "If there's an event or claim, with the Milestone VMS we can easily call up and share recorded video to see exactly what happened. In fact, on the very first day we had a camera installed, someone fell. They tried to make a claim, but we could see that they simply stumbled over their own feet, and there was nothing about the floor that contributed to the fall."

The Milestone XProtect open platform VMS currently supports more than 8,500 different security devices from more than 150 manufacturers. Technology Partners include providers of network video cameras, NVRs, storage equipment, access control, alarm and detection systems, video analytics, GPS technology, laser scanners, emergency call boxes, and much more.

The XProtect Smart Client is an easy-to-use viewing client for a surveillance installation's daily operations. It gives seamless access to live and recorded video, instant control of cameras and connected security devices, and a comprehensive overview of recordings.

"We really like the way the Milestone VMS works. It's sophisticated and powerful, but very easy to use. I wanted a dispatcher in our camera room to be able to easily press a button and send me a video clip, and we can now do that and much more," said Pezzo.

As for the servers behind the system, the team installed 21 Dell RAID 6 units with 192 terabytes, each for a total of 3.6 petabytes of storage. Four Dell video wall servers run the Milestone Smart Wall, which uses 18 monitors with 55-inch 4K displays. An additional set of four Dell servers are being installed now for future use with the BriefCam video analytic software.

"We have the BriefCam software in place. We have an investigator working with it and learning the system. Already, we're able to track someone as they move around the property — it's very impressive," said Pezzo. "BriefCam is still new to us, but we're really excited to utilize that software much more in the future, especially when we can get back to hosting large events."

Technology: Doing More with Less

Pezzo explained that in the face of the pandemic, his team has not only dealt with a reduction in visitors and guests, but also a reduction in staff. The new video system allows the smaller security group to continue to cover the entire property. Pezzo has dispatchers around the clock who monitor the video system in real-time, as well as an investigator who reviews recorded video of anything out of the ordinary, such as a car parked in a restricted area or a trespasser in a back-of-house area. The motion detection tools built into the Milestone VMS help with this type of surveillance.

"We never had motion detection before, and it has helped us greatly with our staffing levels," said Pezzo. “We can use motion detection to cover areas late at night where we know nobody should be. When a person walks into one of these motion cover areas, the VMS alerts us, and we can dispatch a security person to the location. We never had that capability before, and it really helps."

Pezzo explained that the Milestone Smart Wall system is helping each shift of operators easily manage their camera views. Depending on the time of day, each of the three operator shifts needs to monitor different cameras. The video wall is set up to automatically switch camera views with each shift change. There are times when a single operator is looking at 13 screens with more than 100 camera views, which can be a daunting task.

"The new Smart Wall is incredible — the whole thing switches its base setup automatically and really saves a lot of time when we switch over," said Pezzo. "Our operators move through all 1,500 cameras every shift, multiple times a day, and any time-saving capability like this really helps."

Additionally, Pezzo and his team use the XProtect LPR, which is software that reads license plate information from vehicles and links the license plate information with video. As a fully integrated part of the XProtect Smart Client, XProtect LPR has a wide set of application areas, including access control, theft prevention, loyalty programs, toll road, and border control.

Pezzo uses the license plate recognition feature to manage ridesharing drivers who frequent the property. While rideshare services are allowed, the resort has designated pick-up and drop-off areas with 10-minute parking limits. The LPR technology identifies rideshare vehicles as soon as they enter the property, helping staff to track drivers who exceed parking time limits, or become a nuisance by littering or bothering guests.

“LPR instantly identifies cars and sends the dispatcher an alert. It then goes right to a report where we can see if we have banned them or if they have done something in the past. LPR has been a fantastic resource for this big of a property," said Pezzo.

As for the future, Gaylord Opryland management is very happy with their new system, but they are already planning on adding more cameras, and increasing the use of the video analytic tools.

"Herring Technology has been an excellent partner, the Hanwha cameras look amazing, and the Milestone VMS brings us the capabilities and usability we need," said Pezzo. "I look forward to working with all our partners as we continue to expand our system."