Contava completes $6.1m transit project

Job showcases Contava’s IT, engineering and project-management smarts
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

EDMONTON, Alberta—Contava is an IT-centric systems integrator that focuses on projects that combine security and information technology, so the installation of a network with multiple IP HD cameras, VMS, and large storage requirements is right up this company’s alley. However, a recently completed project with the City of Calgary Transit stands out for its scale and complexity, and the fact that the project was completed with minimal impact to the LRT service and the public.

The project included the installation of a 10 Gbps IP Cisco backbone that extends to 27 train stations, the Calgary City Hall and an Operations Control Center.

Typically, this data network would be provided by a network or IT company,” said Curtis Nikel, president of Contava. “But when we looked at outsourcing the network construction, we would have been putting them in touch with the type of people we employ. We had the skillset in-house,” he said.

Founded in 2004, Contava is privately held and employs more than 50 people. In addition to its headquarters here, it has offices in Calgary, Fort McMurray and Vancouver. Contava does video, access and intrusion work as well as network and infrastructure IT projects, and voice and data projects across Canada.

The project centered around the replacement of an old CCTV system in the transit infrastructure. “We replaced two-thirds of the cameras and added another third, we also upgraded from low def to high definition megapixel cameras,” said David Sime, Contava director of operations.

The project included 495 cameras [394 of which are Panasonic megapixel]. It also included a 33-foot-by-4-foot video wall “using bezel-less commercial LCD displays and a Jupiter processor,” according to Contava. In addition, “all core components have failover capabilities, including core network node redundancy, ring typology, director server failover and NVR failover.” Eventually the system will include more than 600 cameras.

“The various stakeholders are pleased with the improvements and future opportunities to deliver better service,” said Colin Adderley, project engineer/project manager, City of Calgary Transit. The project was prompted, in part, by a number of incidents on the transit system, but now if there’s an incident “operators are able to work more effectively,” he said.

Sime said the system enables better management of live video streams, and better archiving, retrieval and navigation capabilities for operators. “The big thing is the better quality picture [and cleaner interface] which helps the operators do their job better,” Sime said.

Contava used a Genetec Omnicast VMS with a Security Center Front end.

The system is designed to be scalable “to save money and hassle by doing futuristic planning within this project cycle,” Sime said.

The system can integrate with other applications, he noted.

Of prime importance, said Nikel, is ensuring that transit employees are well trained on how to use the system. "We developed an aggressive training program,” he said. The contract includes six years of maintenance and administration support.

Adderley said he was most impressed that despite the complexity and mass of the job, the unpredictable obstacles—broken ducts, vendor procurement delays and major software bugs—were overcome to ensure the project was completed on time and on budget. “That was the most impressive aspect of working with Contava,” he said.