Chickasaw Nation Tish Info Center exterior
Casino and gaming

Protecting a People, a Culture, a Thriving Economy

Organization: Chickasaw Nation
Location: South-central Oklahoma, United States
Customer need: Public safety, Personal safety, Property and asset protection
South-central Oklahoma, United States, 

Chickasaw Nation standardizes on Axis cameras and Milestone video management software to secure its casinos and other tribal-owned properties. Partnership with Axis includes testing products under development for future releases.

Mission

Chickasaw Nation wanted to migrate from a multitude of disparate surveillance systems to a single, network-based video management platform. They also wanted to standardize on a single camera supplier, one with a broad portfolio that could satisfy the diverse surveillance needs of more than 150 properties ranging from casinos and resorts to health clinics, daycare centers, retail stores, museums, and cultural centers. They wanted a camera vendor who would be responsive to the tribe’s needs – whether providing their system integrator with quick turnaround on volume orders or accepting feedback for product development. 

Solution

Chickasaw Nation unified its large properties on a single video platform and a single camera supplier so all the components of its surveillance system would work together as one. They chose Milestone XProtect® Corporate video management software platform and Milestone XProtect Professional+ for its non-gaming sites. For camera technology, they chose Axis Communications as the tribe’s supplier. More than 14,000 Axis fixed dome, multi-sensor, and PTZ network cameras replaced their older equipment The Nation works closely with Axis to test new cameras to enhance the safety and security of citizens and visitors to tribal properties.

Result

Axis cameras reduce card cheating at their 22 gaming facilities because they filter out reflective light from a card’s surface, which allows surveillance to clearly see which cards are being played and what everyone has in their hand. Custom colored domes and low-profile camera models enable more discrete surveillance. Multi-sensor cameras reduce installation costs while providing wider surveillance coverage. Axis’ broad portfolio allows the surveillance team to be more cost-conscious when selecting cameras, choosing basic models for properties with simple surveillance needs and more feature-rich models for properties with complex surveillance challenges.

Axis is more than a camera supplier to us. They’re a true partner in helping us achieve our safety and security goals. Not only do they deliver high-quality surveillance technology, they’re also open to our suggestions on future product development.
Kenny Mayfield
Director of Surveillance for the Chickasaw Nation
Wilson Travel Plaza - Chickasaw Nation

Supporting a thriving tribal economy

The Chickasaw Nation is a federally recognized and independent Native American nation located in predominately rural south-central Oklahoma. Though its jurisdictional territory encompasses all or most of 13 counties, the Chickasaw Nation has no formal reservation. Members live within non-Chickasaw communities and only make up about one percent – about 34,000 indigenous people – of the population living in the region. Still, the community remains culturally vibrant and economically strong. Its tribal government supports numerous business ventures that help to finance public services and other programs for its people. 
 

“The Chickasaw Nation is like a big city,” says Kenny Mayfield, director of surveillance for the Chickasaw Nation. “It’s not just casinos and gaming. We run our own medical centers, pharmacies, preschool and daycare centers, retail businesses, cultural and historic sites. We even own and operate several travel plazas.” In total, the Nation provides surveillance for 155 tribal-owned properties.

WinStar Casino Exterior - Chickasaw Nation

One of the Nation’s premiere sites is the WinStar World Casino, which draws several million visitors annually. Within its mile of floor space lies the largest collection of electronic and table games anywhere in the world. In compliance with federal regulations on casino surveillance, the Nation monitors the property with over 4,500 Axis cameras.  

While the tribe was cohesive about its goals for the people, its use of video surveillance technology was not. “When I joined the surveillance department, surveillance was pretty fragmented and difficult to manage,” explains Mayfield. “We were supporting a mix of disparate surveillance systems that couldn’t integrate with each other. Some of our large casinos were even running multiple dissimilar systems within themselves.” 

The difficulty was further compounded by the mix of analog and digital technology. “It was obvious that we needed to standardize on a single network video platform and a single camera supplier for all our properties to have everything work together as a single system,” says Mayfield.

Creating a cohesive surveillance solution

After spending time testing and comparing video management systems, the surveillance team concluded that the Milestone platform would deliver the performance, flexibility and scalability needed to manage and secure tribal facilities. The Chickasaw Nation chose the Milestone XProtect Corporate video management software for its large properties and Milestone XProtect Professional+ for its non-gaming sites. 
 

Next, the team evaluated different camera suppliers, looking at image quality, reliability, failure rates, portfolio of models and capabilities, advanced in-camera processing, onboard analytics, compatibility, and customer service. Longevity was another critical area they considered. They found that Axis cameras could withstand smoky casino environments longer than other commercial grade cameras that they tested.

“Axis cameras hit all the marks,” says Mayfield. “Plus, their tight integration with the Milestone platform made them the obvious choice.”

AXIS Optimizer, a free application that optimizes the performance of Axis cameras in Milestone XProtect, gives administrators and operators direct access to countless camera capabilities through the VMS platform. That includes controlling everything from remote auto-focus and privacy masking to adjusting device settings, uploading firmware, and much more.

Once the decision was made and the Milestone platform installed, the surveillance department began replacing their older camera technology with over 14,000 Axis fixed dome, multi-sensor, and pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) network cameras. “With the broad Axis portfolio, we can choose the camera that best fits the budget and surveillance needs of the individual properties,” states Mayfield. 

WinStar Casino Interior Slot Machines - Chickasaw Nation

The Nation uses Axis M-line network cameras in non-gaming facilities and deploys Axis P-line network cameras with OptimizedIR, remote zoom and focus inside the casinos. They employ Axis Q-line network cameras for the table games because they adjust for bright, flashing lights without washing out the image. The Axis Q-line PTZ multisensor network cameras provide surveillance in the casino parking lot. Because this model streams five camera views from a single port, it greatly reduces the number of cameras needed to cover large areas. 

“Now that we have a more cohesive solution, we’ve been able to simplify surveillance for our users,” shares Mayfield. “They’re able to respond faster to situations and be more proactive about protecting their facilities and people.”

Federal regulations mandate that casino cameras be monitored by the surveillance staff. In non-gaming properties staff are trained to monitor their cameras using a web client. However, if someone hits a panic alarm in a facility, the alert goes out to the surveillance department and the tribal police. 

“In that case, we would access the facility’s cameras remotely to find out what’s going on while our Lighthorse Police Department dispatch officers to the scene,” explains Nick Burger, senior surveillance manager for the Chickasaw Nation.

Making a positive impact on tribal life

Much like any city, the Chickasaw Nation can cite numerous occasions where well-placed, Axis cameras have helped save the day.

“Especially in the casinos, we’re always using the cameras to find someone’s lost wallet or cellphone,” says Kenny Mayfield. “And if someone else picked it up, we’re able to track that individual down and return the property to its rightful owner.” 

Mayfield also notes that the Axis cameras deliver sharp images even in extreme lighting conditions. “We get great detail whether the area is darkly lit or flooded with flashing neon lights,” states Mayfield. “They’re great at helping us catch card cheats because they can filter out the reflective light from the shiny surface of our playing cards. So surveillance can clearly see which cards are being played and what everyone has in their hands.”

Travel Station - Chickasaw Nation

In the outdoor garages and travel plazas, Mayfield’s team uses the Axis cameras in conjunction with a Milestone XProtect® LPR (license plate recognition) software add-on to record tag numbers, track down motorists and quickly forward information to authorities when necessary.

Because many Nation holdings reside in a tornado corridor, property damage is often a concern. “When we get a weather alert, we pull up the Axis cameras in that area to see how the storm is impacting properties in its path,” says Nick Burger. “It helps us give emergency management a better picture of what help is going to be needed.”

In one instance, a huge tornado tearing through the Newcastle area not only caused massive destruction but also knocked out electricity and phone service. Luckily, the cameras and computers were linked to backup generators. “It was an enormous relief when we pulled up the cameras and saw that the building was still standing,” recalls Burger. 

Exterior of Vet Lodge - Chickasaw Nation

Capitalizing on a close partnership with Axis

With so many sites to support, the Chickasaw Nation is adding, moving, and changing cameras on a daily basis. Plus, they refresh their cameras every five to seven years. 

“Axis and our systems integrator, Mainline Information Systems, understand what we’re doing annually and work with us to meet those goals whether it’s a small project or a large one,” says Burger. “But the relationship is more than that. We can reach out to Axis to ask for a camera that can do a specific task and Axis will not only go find us something they already have, but they’ll look at what they have in development, or even take our ideas and develop something for us.”

Burger cites how Axis created black domes for their casino cameras so they could discretely blend in with the dark ceilings. Axis also modified a 360-degree fish-eye lens camera to make it easier for technicians to install and reset.

In addition to being open to customer suggestions, Burger especially appreciates the ordering guidance Axis posts online for its partners and end customers. “Axis offers a lot of mounting options and does a great job on their website telling you exactly which mounts fit each camera. Without that information it would take us days and days to figure what we needed and how many to order,” says Burger.

The trusted partnership with Axis continues to be a two-way street. “On the one hand, Axis, Milestone and Mainline are very responsive to our needs. On the other hand, they are always asking us for input and feedback on how to make Axis products better. It’s a relationship that leads to greater success for everyone,” says Nick Burger.

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