What’s New In Video Surveillance

You all have seen the movie scene before. You know the one, where somebody wanders into an area where they technically should not be and is unsuspectingly caught on camera. Of course, the ever-attentive guard in the surveillance room sees the breach live as it happens and immediately begins to respond. (In fact, this summer’s Mission: Impossible III is a recent example of a movie containing such a scene.)

Unfortunately, in the real world guards in the surveillance rooms have been known sometimes to be taking a bathroom break, out to lunch, or working a crossword puzzle rather than seeing the security threat unfold live on camera and responding accordingly. Like everything else in security however, times are changing.

Video surveillance has served two primary purposes to date: 1) deterrence and 2) the ability to go back and try to identify the criminal(s) after the event. Today’s video surveillance technology still serves the two aforementioned purposes and it is aiming for a third. The goal is the ability to proactively prevent and/or minimize a security breach in real time.

Modern video surveillance technology is capturing higher quality images and analyzing them for any objects or actions that are out of the ordinary. Using “video analytics,” security systems are able to alert guards of suspicious activity with both an explanation of the situation, as well as the live onscreen video feed. With these systems becoming increasingly networked, this information can be quickly shared with security personnel in different locations.

Of course, not everyone has a need or the money for “video analytics.” In many cases, the bigger questions are how to move from analog to digital and when to finally go to an IP solution.

A lot is happening with video technology today. So what are some of the products at the forefront? Let’s have a look…

New Video Image Technologies
Panasonic’s Super Dynamic III (SDIII) technology gives a “consistently superior image,” says Julianna Benedick, group marketing manager, Panasonic Security Systems. She adds, “SDIII is the result of advanced digital signal processing, innovative engineering and new CCD technology that allows cameras to view light similar to the way your eyes process contrasted light.”

The latest Panasonic camera to utilize SDIII is the all-in-one WV-CW964 Outdoor Dome Camera. The WV-CW964’s Auto Focus and 30X optical zoom complement its Auto Image Stabilizer, allowing the camera to keep the image steady and clear with smooth PTZ, even in high winds or vibration, says Benedick. It also has Scene Change Detection, where any interference such as a blocked lens or defocusing is instantly detected and activates an alarm.

Sanyo has unveiled a line of cameras with its new Pan-Focus technology. “The exclusive feature of Pan-Focus technology is that all objects, whether in the foreground or background, are in focus,” says Frank Abram, vice president, sales and marketing, Sanyo Security Products. “This extended range depth-of-field is achieved with the built-in Pan-Focus X2.6 motorized zoom lens. The zoom lens offers a focal length of 2.8-7.3mm with no focus adjustments whatever.”

Abram explains that cameras with Pan-Focus technology are especially good for dealers because they’re so easy to set up and maintain. He notes, “I’ve talked to many dealers who say their worst nightmare is getting calls just to focus a camera. This will alleviate those problems.”

Migrating from Analog to IP
Even though IP seems to be where everything is heading, that doesn’t mean IP cameras are the best solution for every customer today. As such, there is big demand for systems that allow customers to run their analog cameras, but still upgrade to IP at a later time without having to buy a completely new networking infrastructure.

With better image quality, no frame rate drops due to bandwidth, and costs being 4 to 5 times cheaper, analog cameras still have some advantages over IP cameras, says Chad Szekeres, national sales manager, Nitek. That is why many customers are still going with an analog solution today and won’t upgrade to an IP solution until it’s more cost-effective.

Nitek’s UTPLinks is a structured cabling compliant CCTV system, which can send power, video, and PTZ control over standard network cabling. With UTPLinks, customers can choose to go with analog cameras today, knowing that they can easily upgrade to IP cameras in the future and run them on the same infrastructure. Such an upgrade would entail the customer replacing their analog cameras with IP cameras, and their DVR with a network video recorder (NVR), explains Szekeres. Other than that, much of everything else could remain the same on the system.

Of course, if you had a hybrid DVR such as Bosch’s DiBos 8, you wouldn’t even have to change your DVR when upgrading your cameras from analog to IP. “[Bosch’s DiBos 8] allows the use of analog and IP video devices to be connected and recorded simultaneously,” says Leon Chlimper, Bosch Security System’s vice president of system sales.
Pelco has an enterprise-class network-based video security system called Endura, which is a fully distributed, non-centralized system architecture designed to take full advantage of IP networks. Endura can save you time and money on system hardware and cabling by leveraging a facility’s existing network infrastructure.

“Convergence is here,” says Rob Morello, Pelco’s Digital Team senior product sales manager. “Today’s customers face the challenge of integrating digital cameras and recorders with existing analog infrastructure, and Endura will help them make that transition at their own pace and speed.”

Morello adds that Endura is not just a series of products, but a flexible and scalable architecture on which Pelco will continue to roll out a series of innovative, high quality security products.

TOA Electronics is also getting more into the analog-to-IP act. They will soon introduce IP CCTV Security System products with video, audio, power and control over the network. These new products build upon TOA’s NX-100 Network Audio Transport and N-8000 IP Security Intercom product technologies, according to William Little, product support engineer, TOA Electronics.

“These new IP-based CCTV system products will provide an integration path from existing analog product-based CCTV systems, allowing the customer to transition to IP at their desired pace,” says Little. “Built-in web servers in these products allow the customer to view the equipment using a standard web browser.”

Analyze This
Video analytics, or intelligent video surveillance (IVS), is doing some mind-boggling things these days. For instance, at ISC West, Jeff Vollmar, vice president of DynaPel, demonstrated their SteadyEye Digital Real Time Video Stabilizer. Its software had the ability to analyze the current image and regardless of how upside down or blurry it was, the SteadyEye could render the image right side up and clear in real time. Very impressive.

However, video analytics is not just about rendering a clear picture under extreme conditions. In fact, a broader application for everyday use is when the software analyzes what is happening on screen, and when it detects something abnormal it categorizes it and sends an alert.

“The Arteco IVS is a combination of hardware (server-based) and software (analytics) components that work together to alert and detect specific security events in real time while recording every second,” says Steve Birkmeier, vice president of Arteco. When an event is detected, the IVS records up to 60 seconds before and after the event, then sends out an audible alert, visual alert and/or e-mails a jpeg of the event. This technology, he adds, changes the concept of video surveillance from a reactive forensics tool to a proactive security tool that alerts to events as they happen while recording in real time.

The SmartCatch 2.5, made by Vidient, is very powerful intelligent video software capable of detecting numerous trends and behaviors such as: crowd size to prevent overcrowding, people or vehicles moving in the wrong direction, people or vehicles loitering near sensitive areas, removal of a stationary object (was it stolen?), arrival of an unattended object (is it a bomb?), people hopping over or crawling under a turnstile gate, multiple people or vehicles on a single access card, and more.
Verint’s Nextiva Intelligent IP Camera was introduced earlier this year as the industry’s first professional IP camera with embedded video analytics, says Mariann McDonagh, VP of global marketing for Verint. “The Nextiva Intelligent IP cameras reduce the cost to deploy analytics across distributed IP networks by analyzing video at the network edge, dramatically reducing video transport and storage requirements. By easing the deployment of advanced analytics technologies, Verint’s Nextiva Intelligent IP Cameras provide a cost-effective option for dealers to offer their customers.”

“Intelligent video surveillance is a key component to the future of video security and with every passing day is becoming more accepted in the market,” says Birkmeier. “There is a learning curve with IVS technology for dealers who see it for the first time, but dealers who are proactive and get on board with this technology now will have a serious edge over competition when customers expect all video to have these real-time alert capabilities.”