Eye on Video: Design, mechanics and installation for surveillance

Adding intelligent design, mechanics and installation to network surveillance solutions

Compactness has been another area driven by intelligent mechanics. We now have fixed dome cameras that are a mere four inches in diameter and little more than an inch high, including their vandal-resistant enclosures and built-in heaters. Intelligent mechanics have even modified how fixed dome cameras are mounted so that today they can be installed in just a few minutes.

Overall, the judicious application of intelligent mechanics has given customers network cameras with much smaller footprints and greater functionality. These cameras not only provide better image quality, but last longer and cost less to install and maintain.

Mechanics Challenge #1:
Problem: A major metropolitan center wanted to deploy a city-wide video surveillance system to augment the public safety efforts of its police force. Law enforcement wanted to be able to control the cameras remotely so that operators could apprise officers of suspicious activity before being dispatched to the scene.

Solution: The city deployed a series of pan/tilt/zoom network cameras that could be controlled by operators stationed at monitoring facility several miles away. The mechanical precision of the cameras allowed them to not only be redirected from one position to another in less than a second, but also optically zoomed in 35x to enable operators to identify and then slowly track an individual lurking in the vicinity.

Mechanics Challenge #2:
Problem: A city’s transit authority was campaigning to improve rider safety. The authority wanted to install surveillance cameras on all its city buses, but was concerned about having sufficient ceiling clearance to avoid passengers bumping their heads on protruding devices.

Solution: Transit authorities decided to install very-low-profile dome network cameras in each vehicle. Merely an inch in height, the cameras transmitted clear, high-resolution images with minimal impact to passenger head room.

Intelligent installation: automation and reliability

Intelligent installation helps to speed up deployment by automating the steps involved and ensuring more reliable operation of the components. PoE is a case in point. For one large end-user installing thousands of cameras every year, it used to take up to two hours per camera to install when they deployed analog cameras and coax cable. With PoE, you eliminate the need to run a separate power cable to the camera, which in a new facility might reduce installation time to as little as 30 minutes per camera.

Another technology that enables intelligent installation is 802.1X (see Network Security for Cameras, in the February issue of SecurityInfoWatch.com). This port-based authentication method makes it possible to ensure that the device connected to a certain port really should have access to the network. 802.1X is often built into network cameras and video encoders, and is particularly useful when the network cameras are located in public spaces such as receptions, hallways, meeting rooms or even mounted outside a building. Without 802.1X, the risk greatly increases that the port could be hijacked, enabling an unauthorized individual to use that port to breach the corporate network.

Installation Challenge #1:
Problem: Transit officials for a heavily-used subways system were reluctant to add surveillance cameras to their trains because of the anticipated downtime required to deploy the security system. Since their subway cars stood idle only a few hours a night, pulling trains offline to install cameras would delay schedules and therefore impact public transportation system revenues at a time when the city could ill-afford the loss.

Solution: Network cameras equipped with PoE eliminated the need to string separate coax and power cables to each camera, so technicians could easily complete installation during a train’s regularly scheduled idle time. Because the cameras also have built-in active tampering alarms, system operators are immediately alerted when a camera has been covered or moved, which substantially lowers maintenance costs while dramatically increasing passenger safety and security.

Installation Challenge #2:
Problem: A retail chain planned to deploy thousands of cameras across the country. But to protect its bottom line, it needed to limit the time and cost to install each camera.