CCTV consultants: Between the devil and the deep blue sea

December 2, 2009

Mark Harraway, Country Manager at Controlware explains why CCTV consultants are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea….

Consultants are also placed in a difficult position of having to talk to manufacturers to understand what is being developed and what can be offered to their clients as “the best solution” or deliver solutions that are “fit for purpose”, but they also must remain neutral in their selections in order to meet due diligence requirements.  There is also the need for them to learn a different set of regulations, system specifications and terminology in order to specify either Cat-5 or Cat-6 cable, HD or megapixel, RAID5 or RAID6. And it also doesn’t help that the IT industry regards CCTV as a big margin opportunity because of high bandwidth, storage requirements and associated hardware – but yet they don’t understand the Information Commissioner’s Office guidelines, Home Office evidence submission guidelines, transmission without pixilation, reliability of storage and footage retention, camera / lens selection or positioning. This results in conflicting or plain misleading information being given and passed on by the IT industry.

The following statements have been taken from real tenders provided by consultants, where I have been asked to help design solutions:

All new IP static domes are to be IEEE Power over Internet powered. – Power over Internet – or should that be Power over Ethernet.

All new IP static domes are to be 802.3af PoE compliant and powered from a local fused spur – Why would you want to do this? – Either you want PoE or not?

Storage Profile:  48 Cameras / D1 resolution / 25fps / zero compression / MPEG4 / 31 days retention = 3 Tb storage – So zero compression? – How are you going to fit that on 3TB without sacrificing one of the other elements?

All new IP camera points are to be cabled to CAT-5 standards using STP cable and 75ohm termination. – Does the installation require Cat-5 or Coax?

These errors highlight the issues facing our industry. The future of CCTV requires a knowledge-base which spans both in-depth knowledge of operational security requirements and also in-depth IT and IP knowledge, so that the best and most efficient security systems can be deployed.

The article “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” can be read in full here

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CCTV video released of fatal cash machine raid

November 17, 2009

CCTV footage has been released of the moment that raiders broke into a supermarket to get at cash inside a cash machine.

Minutes later one of the raiders can clearly be seen using an angle grinder to get at the cash. Although alerted that a robbery was taking place police arrived too late to stop the raiders getting away.

In this instance Intelligent Video Analytics could have helped raise the alarm much sooner.  By constructing invisible trip wires in the video security personnel or police could have been warned the moment the raiders entered the store. In this way  Intelligent Video Analytics linked to a flexible open management platform could have helped the CCTV become more proactive.

The break in happened in the town of Driel, Netherlands but the raid ended in tragedy for the robbers when a traffic accident was reported in nearby Maarsbergen. When police arrived at the scene they found five men in the car, which also contained a substantial amount of cash covered in security dye. The men who are all British were taken to hospital where 3 have since died of injuries received.

To view more instances of CCTV in action click here.


IP is the only viable option when compared to analogue or hybrid CCTV systems

October 9, 2009

Even if an existing CCTV network has analogue cameras we can take these analogue feeds and convert them to IP via encoders either at the edge or in the control room, and once they are converted to IP, they are simply treated in the same way as any IP camera.  At this point some people will say that this is a hybrid solution, which in the truest sense of the word it is.  However, what we have achieved here is to start to implement IP at the edge which then allows us to build a complete IP infrastructure with all the benefits this brings rather than having the unhappy compromise of a hybrid solution at the most critical point of recording.

The benefits of IP that hybrid can’t offer are features such as iSCSI recording through RAID arrays to provide a 100% fail proof redundancy.  There is no single point of failure in the recording and storage system either in the individual discs, the recording servers or RAIDs.  The use of RAID arrays also brings in another key element in IP superiority – namely that as these solutions run over an IT platform, such a Windows Server, linked to industry standard storage. It becomes so much easier to build a scalable system, because the boxes have a larger capacity (the latest iSCSI are taking 16 x 2TB drives – so 28 TB of useable storage in only 7 inches / 17 ½ cm!) and you can just add additional capacity as required.  Standard IT platforms also deliver a more competitive market approach for purchasing additional or future upgrades of security systems and software capability.  IP based solutions offer further benefits such as intelligent alarm handling, and integration with other systems, such as intruder or access control, to promote a completely integrated solution.

If you are looking at expanding, migrating or a new CCTV solution, there should be no reason not to look at IP.  IP is here today. It’s reliable and offers so much more than hybrid. So why buy twice? Don’t Go Hybrid. Choose the superior IP option.

Taken from Controlware Country Manager Mark Harraway’s “Why go hybrid?” article as published in the September edition of Professional Security Magazine. To read the complete article click here.


Building advanced CCTV security systems: The control room

September 30, 2009

The Cware surveillance platform is an advanced video management and recording solution. Based on open standards and supporting leading Intelligent Video Analysis developers and camera and encoder manufacturers, Cware is the ideal high-performance solution for surveillance and alarm management.

Cware offers a variety of surveillance and management solutions to suit various applications including access via a traditional web browser or access via the Cware Control Centre interface. Due to client-server architecture, multiple clients with appropriate permissions can log onto the system from any location and view live or recorded video footage, control cameras and manage alarms. All user permissions, privileges and capabilities are also held centrally on the server meaning that changes can be implemented quickly and efficiently while increasing overall security.

With surveillance based on Cware the solution is fully resilient with failover control servers, failover storage servers, RAID 5/6 storage and high quality hard drives. The storage can be on or off site, in the control room or in a secure location; it can be distributed for security as long as the network is large enough to support high bandwidths. Additional control rooms can be added to provide mirror systems and/or DR sites if required.

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

cware controlroom


Understanding CCTV: Storage vs image quality

September 16, 2009

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

Q. What is more important for end-users, reductions in RAID demands or usable images with reduced bandwidth? How does H.264 fare on both, and are there variations within industry sectors?

Only an end-user can answer this since factors include a mix of budget, space, and quality but it is important to note that H.264 and IP give you the flexibility to tailor the system to meet on-the-ground needs. By contrast, in an analogue or DVR-based system, it is the hardware that dictates matters through supported frame rates or recording space in the box. The beauty of an IP / H.264 system is that you can be dynamic in the offering. After all, why record at a high frame rate or resolution when nothing is happening? The way forward must be to move to event or alarm-driven recording.  And if you really do need 24/7 recording then use the power of H.264 to reduce your bandwidth and thus your storage requirements.