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by Allen J. Sheinman | June 01, 2010

Try to pull something shady at the 1,200-room Hilton Americas–Houston, and the chances are excellent that you'll get caught. That's because the hotel recently contracted for a state-of-the-art enhanced video surveillance system from San Francisco-based 3VR Security Inc., which takes the idea of security to a whole new dimension. "In a way, it's a refinement of the video systems used in casinos, but this is so much better," says John Alan Moore, director of security and life safety at the Texas property. "The 3VR cameras, placed throughout public areas in the hotel, enable us to get really close up, and they include technology such as facial and license plate recognition, and advance motion analytics [the ability to follow the trail of a given object]."

The system also is hooked up to computer databases for cross-referencing. "For exam­ple," says Moore, "if a car runs through the gate and our cameras manage to get only one letter from the license plate, we can do a search with that letter and the color of the car to come up with an identification, even while we trace where the car is going on the hotel grounds."

For planners, this means well-protected meeting rooms, a means for tracking VIPs and even the ability to search for lost luggage (recently, hotel staff found a misplaced suitcase within minutes by pinpointing surveillance footage of the bag entering the hotel and then following its path by searching based on color and object). The property can even count how many people entered any of its meeting areas (spanning 91,500 square feet) and measure the flow and peak times. "I've been in hotel security for 20 years," says Moore, "and I've never seen anything like this."