Dont go hybrid, Tavcoms view: Analogue, Hybrid or IP CCTV

October 27, 2009

IP is here and offers more than hybrid or analogue systems. So Mark Harraway argues here. Mike Tennent of Tavcom Training sets out the first part of his response below.

Love them or loathe them, the number of electronic security systems deployed in our buildings and on our streets has burgeoned in recent years and, without a seismic reversal of public and political opinion, that trend is set to continue, not only in the UK but around the world. Hard facts and figures are not easy to come by and are invariably hotly disputed but there can be little argument that we are now – for better or worse – a locked in, locked out, closely watched and frequently recorded society. CCTV, access control, intruder alarm, perimeter defence and other electronic security systems are ubiquitous features of modern life.

This proliferation of technology has meant ‘boom times’ for those who grew up with this new industry but now the goalposts are on the move. The rapid cross pollination and convergence of technology involving the security, IT and other sectors is creating exciting new opportunities for installers from other sectors to enter the security arena and dramatically enhance their career prospects.

To read the original “Dont Go Hybrid” article by Mark Harraway click here.

IP CCTV is difficult to install or needs specialist IT skills?

October 23, 2009

It is widely acknowledged in the industry that there is a skills gap when it comes to deploying IP solutions.

Analogue installer’s don’t know enough about the IP side: IP addresses, Subnet Mask, Raid configuration or building routing tables. IT integrators don’t know enough about the edge deployment: risk assessments, operational requirements, field of views for lens selection or camera location, waterproofing or vandal protection of housings.  However these are growing pains for the industry as it inevitably moves to its next evolution to offer end-users better performance. There are many training courses available from companies such as Tavcom, which are modular enough to allow Integrators to pick up the required training to overcome knowledge gaps and in the meantime vendors and value added distributors such as Controlware are undertaking efforts to bridge the gap by offering design and consultancy services to ensure installers and end users get the best system for the above reasons.

In conclusion, there should be no reason why IP based systems are not being specified as the solution of choice because we can migrate existing systems cost effectively and quickly, while ensuring that end users needs for today and tomorrow are met.

To sign up for a detailed cost breakdown of an IP CCTV system, please click here.

Building the next generation CCTV security system

September 29, 2009

Video surveillance has evolved significantly in the last few years and Controlware has been at the forefront of the development of this technology.

Digital video surveillance is cost-effective and offers greater flexibility due to the wide range of cameras available.  If implemented as a separate system to meet the needs of a security plan or upgrade, a standard system may be adequate for immediate requirements, but if the system is integrated with access control and intrusion detection system or part of the broader building automation system, surveillance improves and reduces the need for additional security personnel.

Integration of access control with video verification, for example, allows a security operator to see live video at the point a person gains entry.  This also enables the prevention of individuals who are “tailgating”, when one person follows another through the door.  The integrated system allows organizations to visually identify, verify and capture security breaches at access points.

Utilising video analytics within new generation cameras brings additional advantages to the system.  This technology enables the cameras to look for certain characteristics in the video and provide alerts when these occur.  This facilitates each camera to effectively act as another pair of eyes looking for breaches in the security policy.  Using this technology enables operators to focus only on what is truly important, managing surveillance by exceptional events rather than trying to observe all events.

The goal of Controlware’s Cware platform is to provide a single, unified, integrated architecture for organizations.  This will prevent intruder access to secure areas, limit access to public areas, and remotely monitor critical areas to reduce the risk of crime and security incidents.

Using an integrated system, security staff at a central monitoring station can view live or recorded footage from surveillance cameras, move pan-tilt-zoom cameras, or perform advanced searches for video clips stored on the security management system.  When an alarm is triggered by an intrusion, access control or video analytics policy, the system can automatically respond in a wide variety of ways such as move a cameras position and display live video at the location, map the alarm location, and send an alert to the security personnel’s mobile devices.

CCTV cameras are an important security component at vulnerable areas of a site, such as entrances, car parks and IT labs. When an alarm is activated at one of these locations, cameras can be activated to survey the scene and monitor the incident, allowing security personnel to quickly evaluate both the alarm and their response.

Asset protection is also becoming increasingly high priority. There is often a need to track everything from office equipment, PCs to PDAs and phones—not just for the value of these items but also for the data that could be located on them. Controlware integrate RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and tagging technologies to assist with asset tracking. This system works in conjunction with video and access control to document the movement of assets or persons around monitored locations.  This same RFID technology can be utilised to provide a locational awareness function across sites to identify the whereabouts of security staff, equipment or objects at any given time.  Using this technology provides the facility to automatically alert the nearest operators when an alarm is detected on the system. Operators or guards with mobile devices can be sent both live and recorded footage so they can determine the severity of the alarm and take action as necessary.

As well as video images coming from the fixed position cameras, it is also possible to look towards the implementation green camera locations where both wind and solar can be used to power the cameras where digs are not possible.  This enables the use of temporary cameras to be deployed around the site where and when they are required.  Also, due to the network architecture, it is also possible to stream images into the systems from remote sources to increase the site security.

To find out more about the Cware management platform click here.


Understanding CCTV: Does H.264 mean more processing power?

September 14, 2009

The sixth part of the case for H.264 by Mark Harraway, UK Country Manager

Q. Sceptics allege that H.264 necessitates higher-powered processing and there are higher lag times. But elsewhere industry pundits argue that the exact opposite is the case. What is your position on this?

It is true that as you do more work at the encoding end to compress the stream. More processing power is required and this is why you are seeing manufacturers release new hardware platforms for H.264. But as with all hardware, the processing power of the chipsets is increasing exponentially so I don’t see why this should cause more lag on the network since you are reducing the transmitted bandwidth.  What may be happening is that certain manufacturers are using poor quality chipsets or are trying to cut costs generally. Similarly, such scare-mongering could be analogue adherents trying to discourage end-users from deploying H.264 yet again.

Part 7 continues tomorrow…

Understanding CCTV: M-JPEG vs MPEG-4 vs H.264?

September 11, 2009

The fith part of the case for H.264 by Mark Harraway, UK Country Manager

Q. Has the popularity of M-JPEG caused the CCTV sector to accept low frame rates as the norm? Is there any truth in the adage: “You don’t miss what you’ve never had.”?

I wouldn’t say that M-JPEG is more popular than MPEG4 or H.264. Rather, it’s just that it is an older and easier format and therefore more convenient to adopt.  But then I think the key to this is that when MPEG-4 was introduced, the classic scenario occurred in that those who didn’t offer it tried to frighten the industry by saying that as the B or P frames in MPEG weren’t “complete” frames, this would render the footage inadmissible in court on the grounds that it had been “tampered” with. It’s a similar scenario to so many vendors at this year’s IFSEC saying “Go hybrid!” My contention is that they are only taking this position as they don’t have a comprehensive IP solution and are fudging the issue.

What this has meant is that since M-JPEG makes big demands in both storage and bandwidth, frame rates have been sacrificed meaning that you could miss the crucial shot of a human face. By contrast, with H.264 you can now offer both high frame rate and high resolution very easily over the same bandwidth.  The issue of judicial admissibility of MPEG4 or H.264 has long been solved so I do see H.264 as the future of CCTV in general just as few would argue now that HD is the future of commercial television and movies.

Part 6 continues on Monday…

Understanding CCTV: Is H.264 as versatile as the hype suggests?

September 8, 2009

The case for H.264 by Mark Harraway as published in International Security Buyers Guide Sept 09.

Q. Is there a ‘horses for courses’ argument in terms of the different algorithms given that they have been tested with varying aims and tailored to distinct applications? Is H.264 really so versatile as you believe?

In a word “Yes”. The official (snappy) titles for H.264 are  “ISO 14496-10:2009” or “MPEG4 AVC (Motion Picture Experts Group Phase 4  Advanced Video Coding)” or even – since it is now developed and maintained by the Joint Video Team of the ITU-T and MPEG –  “ITU-T H.264”.  Within the standard there are a number of different profile requirements on how the codec function should work depending on the nature of usage. This can be from very low-end applications where reduction of bandwidth demand is key (such as video to mobile phones) right through to high-definition ultra high-quality broadcasting.  Now, here’s the rub: each of these profiles will affect required processing power and therefore component and build costs. As a result, most manufacturers have only adopted certain profiles in their products with obviously divergent costs and functionality / quality and bandwidth ramifications. It is therefore difficult to be sure that you are comparing apples with apples as everything can still be said to be H.264-compliant but to which profile?

Runnymede Borough Council benefit from advanced CCTV recording and archive security solution

July 21, 2009

The Borough Council benefit from an advanced CCTV recording and archive solution from Controlware.

Community Safety Manager for Runnymede Borough Council, David Dodd said: “CCTV is an important weapon to help combat crime and the fear of crime. Controlware has been on hand to support us every step of the way with this important project that provides advanced IP video management, control and recording of CCTV from cameras situated around the Borough.”

Runnymede Borough Council was awarded the Public Sector Security award 2009 presented by Government Business magazine at a ceremony at The Emirates Stadium in London.

This award is presented to the Local Authority or Central Government building/refurbishment project that considers security as a prime concern and enhances the safety of staff, residents and visitors to the building through the installation of CCTV, monitoring, access control or other innovative security system.

To find out more about the CCTV solution please click here.

Runnymede benefit from advanced CCTV recording from Controlware

Runnymede benefit from advanced CCTV recording from Controlware