Video Surveillance Reality Check: Part 1

Industry thinkers weigh in with current perspectives on surveillance industry trends


VCA (Video Content Analysis) and the trough of disillusionment

We're past the peak of the hype curve and now we're in the "backfire" part of the curve. People don't trust VCA. They believe it takes a rocket scientist to install it, and even then they set a camera up for 30 minutes and then drive home praying that there aren't going to be too many false alarms. The good news was there were almost no false alarms during the installation. Then the sun sets, shadows appear, the moon takes over, fluffy little moths land on the illuminator and lens and Charlotte builds a little web right in the middle of the field of view. It rains and during a brief thunderstorm, gusts rattle the camera a little.

As sure as the sun rises the next day, the installer is ordered back to tweak the system and reduces the false alarms from 10 per hour per camera, to a mere one. But there are 60 cameras so that's still one alarm acknowledgement every minute! Finally they deactivate the analytics and sometimes throw the equipment back at the manufacturer in disgust. Everyone has lost face. An important technique to avoid this situation is to test your rules against days or weeks of pre-recorded video to instantly assess the reliability of the system and tweak the rules on the fly and immediately see the impact. Different manufacturers will call this different things; I know it as "forensic search".

Lighting: You can't change the laws of physics

Video needs light and the more sensor pixels you have, the less light there is per pixel and the noisier your image. More is not always better, but the HD video standard to me appears to be a great compromise. It looks great, and I can compare one manufacturer against another because it is a standard.

It is mind-blowing how many cameras are in the dark for half their life, delivering low contrast grainy video with very high bandwidth consumption. And that does not even include the appalling performance of video analytics in the dark. You need light. It's a no-brainer.

Migration

Are people really going to rip a standard definition camera off the wall, replace it with a HD or megapixel camera and swap out the coax/fiber with IP network infrastructure? Most projects are retro-fits or expansions. Relatively few are new construction. Encoders and hybrid recorders rule in this space. Add ONVIF to the story and now you also offer choice.

About the author: Dr. Bob Banerjee is the IP video product marketing manager for Bosch Security Systems, Inc. He developed Bosch's IP Resource Center found at www2.boschsecurity.us/ip and can be reached at bob.banerjee@us.bosch.com.