Crystal Mountain Resort is Washington's largest winter and summer getaway, stretching across 2,600 acres. For over 60 years, the picturesque resort near Mount Rainier has given guests unforgettable experiences worthy of the terrain and vistas.
As the resort's Director of IT, Perry Turner is in charge of protecting guests and the facilities onsite all year long. The resort is open to guests for skiing and snowboarding from November to April and from May to September for summer activities and scenic gondola rides.
Crystal Mountain is a sanctuary of natural beauty, but their previous cameras could not sustain the punishment from the high elevation and extreme weather conditions.
"The elevation tops out at a little over 7,000 feet, so the weather conditions can get extreme. We needed durable cameras capable of handling everything from snowstorms to 100 MPH winds."
The elements and Crystal Mountain Resort’s unreliable security solutions produced two major pain points:
1. Poor hardware durability and low image quality
Exposure to snow and low temperatures during the winter and high humidity levels during the warmer months caused a number of problems with their hardware. Lens fogging and weather-sealing issues were common and would cause cameras to malfunction or stop working altogether.
Additionally, their outdoor cameras were antiquated and could not capture a clear video of critical areas like the ski slopes. Visibility was a challenge during severe weather conditions, often resulting in grainy images and footage.
"The combination of moisture and cold temperatures was wrecking our older cameras; they couldn't survive the harsh conditions. The low image quality of our older cameras created legitimate liability concerns, especially in areas where lack of visibility was a safety hazard."
2. Time-consuming process to pull footage
Pulling, reviewing and sharing even a minute of footage was an excruciating process that would take hours. The resort used two different network video recorder (NVR) systems that made it impossible to pull footage efficiently. When Perry found what he was looking for, the NVR systems would often malfunction and automatically reboot, forcing him to start from the beginning.
"If I had to pull 10 minutes of footage, it would take three to four hours to get the right clip and to download it. It would crash all the time, and I'd have to start the process all over again."
Perry wanted dependable cameras that not only could survive the extreme weather conditions but also made his and the security team's jobs easier. Their older hardware was simply not reliable enough to consistently meet their needs, whether that was quickly pulling video footage or capturing high-quality images.
Verkada came with none of these drawbacks.
"The interface is excellent, the app is easy to use and the cameras are rock solid. The hybrid cloud infrastructure also helps with reliability. I don't need an on-premise device to handle all the recording since the camera does that. It's a lot less to maintain from my end."
Cameras built to handle 100 MPH winds and -40°F
Livestream ski conditions in high-image resolution
A platform that saves time and reduces work
Risk and liability prevention
1. Cameras built to handle 100 MPH winds and -40°F
The lack of issues with their hardware surprised Perry and his team. All the Verkada cameras onsite are enterprise-graded and are IP67 and IK10 rated. Additionally, they come with an integrated temperature gauge and built-in heaters that automatically turn on once the temperature hits -20°C (-4°F). Verkada outdoor cameras are fully functional at sub-zero and high heat temperatures and can withstand temperatures ranging from -40°C to 50°C (-40°F to 122°F).
Backed with an industry-leading 10-year warranty, Perry can install cameras anywhere at the resort – from the retail shops to the top of Mt. Rainier – and not have to touch them again.
"We mounted a camera on top of a building that gets hit by 100 MPH winds and beyond freezing conditions, and it's had zero problems. We just set it and forget it."
2. Livestream ski conditions in high-image resolution
Low-quality images and footage are no longer an issue with Verkada. The cameras come with advanced image sensor technology, which allows them to produce crystal-clear footage. Even in low-light conditions, like the resort's "Night Skiing" events, the built-in infrared LEDs make capturing footage in darker environments possible.
No matter the conditions or location, Perry and his team now have a clear view of the people and property at the resort. Other departments, such as Marketing, quickly found new and valuable uses for the Verkada system as well.
Crystal Mountain Resort already used older equipment to share feeds and images of current skiing and snowboarding conditions on their website. The Marketing team knew they could improve the viewing experience for website visitors. Once they swapped out the older cameras with Verkada, the feedback was fantastic. They now have multiple cameras (with more coming soon) placed throughout the resort that share live video feeds.
"Our website has live video feeds of the slopes, and as soon as we switched to our first Verkada camera, the jump in image quality was evident. The guests love it. The Marketing team now wants to add more for the public-facing side of things."
3. A platform that saves time and reduces work
Verkada cameras come with built-in video storage capabilities of up to 365 days, removing the need for on-premise servers and all the associated work and time required to maintain them. Plug-and-play cameras are pre-configured and fully operational within minutes.
When it comes to pulling footage, the process is night and day.
Before, there were a lot of requests for footage pulls from the Security and Lift Operations teams. Now, these teams can securely access footage themselves on Command through their mobile phones, eliminating most of these requests. If Perry does have to pull and share a snippet of footage, it takes a fraction of the time it did beforehand. With Verkada, that process is straightforward and seamless.
"Pulling and sharing video footage now takes minutes, not hours. And when other teams need to pull footage, they can access it directly from their phones. This has removed multiple steps in our workflow and saves everyone a ton of time."
4. Risk and liability prevention
Placing Verkada cameras at vulnerable and high-risk areas at the resorts (including retail shops and chairlifts) has helped thwart thefts of thousands of dollars worth of ski equipment and dispute false claims. If an incident arises, Perry can corroborate the witness accounts with easily-accessible footage to see how the facts line up.
Within Command, Perry can choose the camera he wants to view the history of, jump to a specific date and time, and review other data and analytics. Once he finds what he's looking for, he can share the footage with anyone through text, email or a link.
Guest safety is another key priority for the resort, especially on the slopes. The cameras positioned at and near the chairlifts help monitor that guests are seated correctly. Safety issues can arise if someone falls in the chairlift area, so that additional visibility is crucial to protect both the guests and the resort.
"Verkada provides peace of mind and liability protection. We can quickly verify what happened with a past incident and address any security or safety issue as it's happening. If someone is in trouble at the chairlifts or on the slopes, we can respond immediately."
Crystal Mountain Resort's success in deploying Verkada cameras has led to rave reviews from various internal teams. They are exploring how they can leverage the platform to improve the customer experience at the resort.
"We recently learned about the Occupancy Trends feature, and there are so many potential applications. Foot traffic is just one thing that we want to keep track of in our rental shops and restaurants."
Most critically, leadership loved the enthusiasm surrounding the platform and has performed further financial analysis. What they found were more possible benefits, including a lower cost of ownership.
"The more teams interact with the platform, the more buy-in we've received from leadership. They realized that Verkada is actually more cost-effective in the long run.”
To learn more about improving security operations with Verkada, attend a webinar or request a free trial.