For Jasper Highlands Mountaintop Community, Security is More than a Luxury

Organization: Jasper Highlands Mountaintop Community
  • Enable management team to keep an eye on all critical areas of a secluded, 9000 acre property
  • Provide residents with a sense of security and peace-of-mind
  • Monitor comings and goings of all contractors, workers and visitors
  • Record super high-resolution images that can provide enough visual detail to assist in investigations, when necessary
  • Provide management team with flexibility to manage video surveillance cameras from anywhere, including from home and when travelling
A Valerus video management system provides visibility of cameras throughout the property, including its gated entrance, open air pavilion, three story gazebo, playgrounds, pool, tennis courts and game fields and fire station. The flexible network design will make it easy to add cameras as the development expands to include a restaurant, wellness center, market, exercise facility and more.
Jasper Highlands management team’s simplified access to high-resolution security video not only enhances safety for residents but assists with monitoring construction activities and operations.
About a 30 minute drive west of Chattanooga, Tennessee, you’ll find Jasper Highlands, a gated community perched atop Jasper Mountain. It is there, with sweeping views in all directions, that Thunder Enterprises is building its latest luxury residential development, complete with 1500 home sites, 4000 acres of forest preserve, hundreds of miles of trails, and community amenities that include an open air pavilion, three story gazebo, playgrounds, pool, tennis courts and game fields, fire station, and soon-to-be restaurant, wellness center, market and exercise facility.

John “Thunder” Thornton has a reputation for doing everything “first class,” and that includes investing in the right security technologies. A Vicon surveillance solution, combining Valerus video management software and close to 30 high-definition cameras, allow him and his management team to keep an eye all critical areas of the 9000 acre property. The IP-based system, which can be fully and securely managed from a computer’s web browser or via mobile device, provides Thunder Enterprises with the flexibility and ease-of-use necessary for covering such an expansive property, as well as peace-of-mind to the residents choosing to live in Jasper Highland’s relatively secluded environment.

Lay of the Land
The Jasper Highlands’ Valerus solution brings together video from several locations within the gated community, including recreational, operational and event facilities, as well as from the Sales and Design Center located at the base of the mountain. Designed and installed by Meyers Security Services of Chattanooga, TN, the Valerus surveillance network started out with Vicon’s legacy ViconNet VMS. When Valerus was introduced in 2017, Thunder Enterprises was quick to embrace the new platform and chose to upgrade, seeking the system flexibility and unlimited growth opportunities that Valerus could provide. The video management solution incorporates Jasper Highlands fiber optic network cabling to support the long distances between facilities requiring video support. All video is recorded in a secure data center on a single NVR.

At the top of the mountain, all residents and visitors to Jasper Highlands must pass through a gated entry and exit-way, equipped with four 5MP Vicon cameras. The cameras capture vehicle information, including the license plate, make, model and color, of all cars and trucks passing through in either direction.

Two more cameras are mounted overhead, providing a broader perspective. Surveillance of the gates provides complete video documentation of all traffic entering and exiting, which is helpful not only for security but for operations and sales management. Jill Bynum, Jasper Highlands’ Community Life Director, works in the Sales and Design Center and often accesses video from the Valerus system. “We have people from all over the country coming to visit, looking to buy property in Jasper Highlands, and those cameras looking at license plates can sometimes tell us where folks are from. They also allow our construction manager to see which contractors have been on-site on any given day.”

Once past the gates, Vicon cameras can be found in a number of locations, including the facility’s data center, warehouse, storage shed, club house, fire station and a stunning outdoor pavilion at the mountain’s summit. All video is transported via fiber optic cable to the system’s Recording Server and Application Server, located in the data center, which will eventually be in the center of the development as land is cleared for construction.

The Sales and Design Center is located a few miles outside the gate, at the foot of the mountain in the town of Kimball. This building is also equipped with indoor and outdoor high-resolution cameras. Inside the building is Mr. Thornton’s private office, from which he can view crystal-clear video from all cameras on a huge 4K monitor.

“We’re running a huge operation here, not just in terms of the geography, but in the amount of contractors and workers that are coming in and out every day. The Valerus system provides our management team with an overall level of awareness that would be impossible otherwise,” says Thunder.

Because Valerus uses a browser-based thin client, others on the Jasper Highland’s management team can also easily access the video. Jill Bynum uses Valerus on her standard, desktop computer within the sales offices and has, on occasion, logged into it from her home computer. The company’s construction manager benefits from similar flexibility. “It’s important that all the buildings are on one system,” says Jill. “I don’t have to go here and there to look at things.”

She says the Valerus software is very user friendly. “It’s so simple and efficient to use. When I want to do a search, I just type in the time range and date, and I can narrow down the footage to find exactly what I’m looking for. Nobody had to teach me. I just figured it out myself.”

Mr. Thornton, who travels frequently to oversee the other aspects of his business, appreciates the ability to log into the system from anywhere. So does his construction manager, who frequently makes use of the mobile app to view cameras and keep tabs on contractors. “With our security system, as long as we have cellular or mobile access, the quality of the video is just like we’re there.”

Not just in terms of the geography, but in the amount of contractors and workers that are coming in and out every day. The Valerus system provides our management team with an overall level of awareness that would be impossible otherwise.

John C. Thornton , Chairman/CEO, Thunder Enterprises

Security as a Sales Message
“We want our residents to feel safe,” says Jill. “Residents like that we are a gated community.” In that vein, Thunder Thornton has made sure that the serenity of Jasper Highland’s secluded location doesn’t come at the expense of quick access to safety and life support services. Thunder Enterprises has just completed work on a new, fully equipped fire station, has built a helipad and contracted with a life-support helicopter company, and has the entire community wired with the highest speed fiber optic internet connectivity. The Valerus system provides another layer of security.

And that security isn’t just for the residents. The property hosts many events for the surrounding community at its mountaintop pavilion.

The pavilion, along with surrounding parkland, is named “Pat’s Summitt” in memory of University of Tennessee’s Pat Summitt, the most winning women’s basketball coach in NCAA history and personal friend of Mr. Thornton. In 2016, a performance there by The Charlie Daniel’s Band was part of a two day fundraiser to support The Pat Summitt Foundation and its mission to find a cure for Alzeheimer’s disease.

“We installed cameras all over pavilion, “says Pendell Meyers. “We brought a dedicated fiber line out to the building, and then made sure that all the wiring to the cameras was completely invisible. In this case, our focus was not only on security, but also on preserving the aesthetics of the pavilion by making the cameras as unobtrusive as possible.”

“Our properties cater to discerning residents who want the whole package; natural beauty, privacy and premium amenities, with freedom not to worry about safety or security. They like knowing that we’re taking care of that,” explains Thunder.

The Vicon team makes it so easy to set up a new camera. I just mount it and plug it in, and then Vicon helps me with all the configuration by connecting to it remotely. You don’t get that level of support with cheaper camera lines.

Pendell Meyers, President , Meyers Security service INC

Quality Cameras for a Premium Property
Pendell Meyers, President of Meyers Security Services, says that almost every camera throughout the installation is a Vicon camera. There are 3MP, 4MP and 5MP models in use, plus a 12 MP camera on the roof of the pavilion at the summit, looking out over the bluff. The video from the 12 MP camera is so spectacular, its live feed is featured every morning on the local Chattanooga Channel 9 weather forecast. It also provides an inspiring and peaceful view from the 4K monitor in Mr. Thornton’s office, and is available for property
owners to view online. “Many of our property owners haven’t built their homes yet, and it makes them feel connected being able to log into the camera from wherever they are,” says Jill.

The high-quality surveillance video from other cameras is also exceptional. In 2017, the bank across the street from the Sales and Design Center in Kimball was robbed, and the Vicon cameras mounted on the side of the building provided the police with video images that were superior to those captured by the bank’s own cameras. “We were happy to help out,” says Jill. “We were able to do a search, quickly find the relevant footage and turn it over to the police.”

Pendell says that it’s not just the quality of video that makes him a fan of Vicon cameras. It’s also the quality of technical support. “The Vicon team makes it so easy to set up a new camera. I just mount it and plug it in, and then Vicon helps me with all the configuration by connecting to it remotely. You don’t get that le

The Future

As Jasper Highlands adds new home sites and attracts more buyers, Thunder Enterprises is adding more and more amenities to make life within the gated community convenient and selfsufficient. Next on the agenda is a new clinic with part-time medical staff, a restaurant, market, water tower and additional indoor and outdoor recreational facilities. As each phase is completed, it will be equipped with cameras and connected to the Valerus network.

Mr. Thornton gives high marks to Meyers Security Systems, and his local Vicon rep, for delivering on his vision for security. “I described what we needed, and they delivered a solution that exceeded my expectations,” says Thunder.

“I have a friend who jokes that at Jasper Highlands, we have such a sophisticated security system that I know when a Coke can rolls. I’ll take that as a compliment!”