Established in 2012, Hamilton-based COMS Systems provides market-leading technology to pubs and clubs in New Zealand and Australia. To assist with the prevention of harm to gamblers, the company manages in-venue facial recognition systems, which identify people of interest.
In line with their rapid growth, and a desire to provide the most reliable and secure systems available, COMS Systems recently approached IoT specialists M2M One to design and implement a new solution to power their facial recognition technology.
In 2018, the New Zealand gaming industry started to adopt facial recognition. The technology is designed to help venue staff identify excluded problem gamblers entering gaming rooms at pubs and clubs.
The system uses state-of-the-art high-definition cameras to capture facial images from a live video stream as people enter or move around the venue. These images are sent to a cloud-based facial recognition engine which matches these against CONCERN – the national centralised database of excluded persons. If an excluded person is identified, an alert is activated, and venue staff are notified.
Uniquely, the system operates via a process of self-identification whereby individuals who may be facing gambling-related issues voluntarily register themselves on the CONCERN database.
COMS Systems operates front-of-house gaming systems in over 900 venues throughout New Zealand, many of which use its facial recognition system. Each venue is unique in terms of visitor numbers and infrastructure – including connectivity.
A key challenge COMS Systems faced was reliability. This was due to the fact they had been using in-house broadband in each venue. Without their own dedicated or a backup data connection, they were at the mercy of the venue’s broadband.
If venue systems failed, they would be required to send a technician to investigate and conduct a manual reset. This was an inefficient and costly process.
A global chip shortage forced COMS to rethink how they would process images, which involves transmitting images directly from cameras to their cloud environment. This solution posed some security challenges.
As their existing IoT partner of choice, COMS Systems approach M2M One to develop a more secure and reliable system. A key requirement was the need to deploy in an AZURE environment.
M2M One recommended Peplink’s Balance 20X router to power their system. The key reasons for this included the router’s built-in failover capability, the ability for each router to be remotely configured, and the innate provision of end-to-end VPN encryption.
M2M One also provided 4G IoT SIMS to provide failover connectivity in the event venue broadband went down.
Over a three-month period, M2M One worked with COMS Systems to assess the proposed solution, including critical training on Peplink’s In-Control and In-Touch management software which would enable COMS Systems to remotely view, update and manage their entire network of routers.
COMS Systems has successfully deployed M2M Connectivity’s Peplink solution to six venues in New Zealand. The solution has provided them with the reassurance that if a primary in-venue internet connection fails, the connection will be maintained using Peplink’s 4G failover capability.
COMS Systems also now has full end-to-end encryption going through a private network within its own AZURE environment – providing the highest levels of data security.
Importantly, the remote management capability of the Peplink routers has allowed the company to realise significant cost savings – reducing technician fees. Additionally, COMS Systems is in a position where each router can be configured and posted to a venue without on-site support.
“As an IoT partner, I have found M2M One to be one of the most helpful,” says Charles Stewart, Information Technology Director at COMS Systems. “When it comes to connectivity, there are virtually no single points of failure, and this critical service can operate uninterrupted.
“Our partnership with M2M One has delivered significant cost savings and removed the stress of managing a large national network of devices. We are now in a much stronger position to move forward in New Zealand and grow into new markets,” Charles adds.
COMS Systems plans to roll out the solution to its New Zealand customers over the next year – closely followed by expansion into states and territories in Australia.
Josh Velling, Channel Director at M2M Connectivity, says: “As leaders in IoT connectivity across ANZ, we are proud to be working with companies like Coms Systems and bringing technology to market which is making a positive impact on communities and people’s lives.
“Data security is paramount in this instance and Coms Systems now have the right technology in place to provide better protection well into the future,” Josh adds.