Eye on Video: Design, mechanics and installation for surveillance

Adding intelligent design, mechanics and installation to network surveillance solutions

Over the last five issues, this column covered a broad range of topics centering on intelligent video – from system architecture to audio intelligence and the algorithms that enable various video analytics. While video intelligence and, to a certain degree, audio intelligence have become relatively commonplace in network surveillance, this month’s article focuses on three other important aspects of intelligent video technology that integrators need to consider: design, mechanics and installation.

Intelligent design: form and function

An intelligent design involves form and function in equal measure. The network video solution not only considers the surveillance requirements in terms of features and capabilities, but how the components fit into the environment in which they will be used.

This was not the case in the early days for surveillance systems. In the market’s infancy, surveillance cameras tended to be nondescript. In fact, fixed cameras are known in the industry as “box cameras” – a name that aptly reflects their unassuming shape. This design sufficed for industrial spaces like factories, warehouse and loading docks. But once the market for surveillance systems began making inroads into commercial environments like retail stores, casinos, hotels and business offices, it became increasingly important for security components to blend in with the dĂ©cor of the location. Today, customers expect the shape and size and even the color of the network camera housing to match the overall aesthetics of the property.

Design Challenge #1:
Problem: An upscale fashion boutique with an exclusive address in the heart of Paris had invested heavily in renovating the property and creating an interior ambience that reflected its unique brand image. While shop security was paramount, the manager also wanted surveillance cameras that could provide a visual deterrent without detracting from the highly-designed layout and displays.

Solution: Instead of the usual box-shaped fixed cameras, the shop chose surveillance cameras with a more sleek design. Because the network cameras were powered over Ethernet (PoE), the boutique avoided the unattractive presence of power cables plugging into electrical outlets on the walls. Equally important, the surveillance cameras delivered excellent image quality using progressive scan. Mounted above the payment terminals, the cameras made it evident to patrons that they were being watched, which proved an effective deterrent to shoplifters. Moreover, the high image quality enables corporate executives to monitor and supervise shop layout and shelf displays remotely to ensure consist brand imaging across all stores in the chain.

Design Challenge #2:
Problem: A hotel wanted to improve security at its front desk, but management was concerned that guests would feel intimidated and unwelcomed by the staff if the first impression of their stay was a bank of surveillance cameras pointed in their direction.

Solution: Fixed-dome network cameras equipped with fish-eye lenses provided a more discrete alternative. Mounted unobtrusively on the wall behind the reception desk in the lobby, the cameras provided security staff with a wide view of check-in and check-out activity, but hotel guests could not ascertain where the cameras were actually pointing.

Intelligent mechanics: size, speed and resilience

Intelligent mechanics have transformed the bulky cameras of yesteryear into much smaller, more robust surveillance tools. Pan/tilt/zoom cameras can now rotate 450 degrees in a second, stop at an exact position and immediately begin transmitting crystal-clear images. Or they can rotate as slowly as 0.005 degrees per second, taking two hours to make a complete 360 degree survey of an area. The movement is so smooth and subtle that it appears motionless even if you are standing right next to it.

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