Founded in 1877, Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) is the second-largest state-owned bank in Costa Rica. Today, BCR provides a broad range of financial services, including retail banking.

Looking to protect its staff, buildings and financial assets, BCR has set upon a major project that will see its 4,500 employees, in 278 offices across Costa Rica, protected by an integrated hybrid CCTV and alarm system. The fundamental characteristic of the project is its implementation over unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) structured cabling networks, which will allow the use of legacy equipment to be integrated into a scheme that paves the way for migration to security solutions based entirely on this transmission media.

Network Video Technologies (NVT) UTP CCTV video transmission equipment plays a fundamental role in the hybrid solution, enabling both legacy and new systems to be combined, delivering high-quality real-time video over large distances; to help ensure a measured and rapid response by the bank to any alarm scenario.

One of the most important government financial institutions in Costa Rica, BCR was previously protected by a CCTV system based on coax cable and using monochrome cameras. Consequently, one of the aims of the bank's directors in implementing the new solution was to unify all of its systems to operate over UTP networks.

Protection on multiple fronts

The new solution will encompass the bank's 278 branches, public offices and administrative buildings across Costa Rica, 450 buildings in total.

Randall Ruiz Parajeles, the Bank's Director of Electronic Security explains about the project roll out: "At the moment 80% of the bank's buildings are covered, thanks to the installation of NVT video transmission equipment. Our aim was to improve video signal quality, eliminate interference noise, and most importantly, using NVT technology we will be greatly extending the video transmission distances without suffering video quality losses, which is what happens with coax."

From coaxial to hybrid systems

Banco de Costa Rica has always had a surveillance system, the purpose of which was to protect the security of visitors to each of the bank's offices, as well as their money. These consisted of analog recording systems and standard-resolution monochrome cameras, with transmission via coaxial cables.

Analogue recording systems as well as standard resolution monochrome cameras were included in the solution from NVT

"For the system-wide renewal, the number of cameras has been increased, but many of them were re-used," explains Parajeles. "There are currently more than 4,500 NVT UTP transmission links installed that transmit the camera video over twisted pairs, using high-resolution day/night and low-light equipment. As for the recording systems, we are using digital equipment that works over the IP network."

"It should be noted that NVT equipment was installed right from the start of the renewal programme. NVT allowed us to retain existing equipment as an infrastructure and adapt it to work with the newer devices, making this match between the two without having to discard units that might still give us some useful working life. We were able to integrate these units with the new ones in a manner entirely transparent to the monitoring personnel, who are now able to have everything integrated seamlessly on a single platform."

The current configuration of the security system, installed by Seguridad y Protección de Centro América, has a threefold purpose: it is intended to be dissuasive, but also persuasive, and to allow verification of the events reported by the alarms. In this sense, it can be said that it is designed for both supervision and recording.

But a major component of the system is the automation programme. This means that the CCTV system is complemented by the alarm system, which, when an event occurs, generates pop-up windows in the control center. There is also a link to the lighting systems, so that when an alarm is given, the lights in a particular area are switched on.

The cameras and PTZ domes installed in the system are all Pelco models. Recording is carried out by Honeywell Rapid Eye units. In total, around 450 recording units have been installed.

NVT technology allows extending the video transmission distances without suffering video quality losses

A fundamental decision: hybrid instead of IP

However, a review of the characteristics of this system immediately prompts a question. If the system was designed to run over UTP based structured networks, why implement a hybrid model instead of installing end-to-end IP.

Parajeles explains that the use of UTP and NVT devices allows the linking of analog and digital equipment on a given IP network helps businesses to start down the road towards a single-stage system, because they are designed to work over structured cabling. "For us, it was rather difficult to install IP cameras because of bandwidth considerations, the quantity of IP addresses needed and the infrastructure that would require us to have individual physical connections for each camera in each branch. After looking into the matter, we could not find an IP camera that would, on its own, allow us to transmit over the network without adversely affecting the establishment's bandwidth."

High-satisfaction technology

When a large institution implements such an important project, it is looking to simplify its operation and enhance its ability to respond when that operation finds itself put to the test. From this point of view, it can be declared that Ban­co de Costa Rica has fully met its target, in terms of guarantees, ease of installation and professional achievements; NVT has become an important ally.

Summarising the entire process, Parajeles concludes: "This is an investment that will pay for itself over time. And because the quality of the NVT equipment is so good, visits to the sites of the various installations have also been reduced."

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