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.

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Running CCTV over IP delivers key advantages

October 8, 2009

When migrating CCTV from an analogue system it is essential that users avoid marketing messages from major players to “Go hybrid”. The main thrust of the Going hybrid messaging seems to be driven from the storage platform manufacturers.  There are now a large number of NVR’s or DVR’s that position themselves as “Hybrid”.  And by “Hybrid” they mean that they can record analogue BNC feeds and IP feeds at the same time.  But here is the rub – they don’t give the detail on which IP cameras they support as a recording platform, because the customer’s main focus is on quality of systems for current use i.e. frame rate or resolution, and what recording profile can be supported for the available storage. Unfortunately this can lead to a world of difference on how future-proofed each customer’s security system will be.

The other issues I see in the Going hybrid message are:
1.    You are still limited to a certain number of frames per second per box – therefore not allowing you to be flexible in storage profiles or indeed having to waste ports to meet an fps target.

2.    There seems to be a maximum frame rate of 12.5fps per channel when the industry is looking at better quality images for legal evidential purposes – Will 12.5 fps give you that perfect freeze frame face shot?  In many cases, as well, if you were to load up a DVR / NVR with the full complement of channels then you wouldn’t even get 12.5fps.

3.    While some recorders can have additional storage added, these are still limited in total available size, so creating an untidy solution with little or no resilience or failover, as you have to connect the cameras to that NVR / DVR which may become a single point of failure.

Other market messaging behind Going hybrid is that it allows end users to protect their existing infrastructure by not having to rip out existing analogue cameras, cables or control room equipment.  While this has historically been used as a scare tactic to force up the “perceived” cost of an IP solution, Controlware agree that this is a key factor in choosing a cost-effective security solution. If an end user has an investment in analogue cameras, transmission or back office they wish to retain, there is another way to migrate these installations to IP and still allow them to add IP cameras in the future.

System integrators and end-users who wish to see the benefits of an IP-based solution should look to someone who really knows the technology and can give an impartial view. It is common sense that manufacturers will only support their own hardware and will promise the earth for it, whereas a distributor will have evaluated a number of solutions from different vendors and be able to say that product A is the best for solution B because of XYZ whereas product Y is the best for solution C because of etc etc.

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: Control room components

October 1, 2009

Recording and Management Servers
Within the primary control room, there will be servers with sufficient storage to capture video at full frame rate DVD resolution from the cameras located around the site.

In addition to the recording servers, the primary management server will also reside within this location.  The management server stores all user and system configurations and enables the management of devices and alarms. Each of these servers will be protected from power loss by the inclusion of UPS battery backup devices.

Viewing and Replay
Each Operator workstations has dual 19” LCD displays and a Joystick for PTZ camera control.  These workstations will be powered by the Cware Control Centre application that enables the operators to view live or recorded video, manage alarms and control cameras.

The Control Centre user interface is designed to be as simple as possible while still providing advanced capabilities.  The main screen can be utilised as the operator’s spot monitor and facilitates viewing of multiple cameras in live or replay mode, export of footage, viewing of alarms, management of the video wall and so on.  To enable simple navigation through the cameras and provide vital information on camera positions, the second monitor can be used as the map interface.  The map interface can provide users with a zoom overview of the site and highlight elements such as alarm triggers and camera positions.

As well as the maps, the system can be licensed with the patented ICN feature.  ICN stands for Image Content Navigation and enables a revolutionary method of navigating through the system.  With ICN enabled, it is possible to setup predefined invisible links within the video image from a camera that link to another camera.  This offers the operator the opportunity to click on an area of the image and the system will automatically switch to the best view of that area.  For example, if you have a camera overlooking a doorway and you see a suspicious individual enter through the door of a building, ICN makes it possible to click on the door and automatically switch to the camera inside quickly and easily without having to search through a list of cameras to identify the correct one.

The Cware server within the central location will constantly monitor each remote IP camera and encoder (for existing analogue cameras) device for alarm triggers, such as motion detection.  In the event of an alarm trigger from a remote location, the alarm management and response configuration can allow for a variety of notification methods, including simply presenting the user automatically with the video on their spot monitor or presenting the alarm to the video wall displays.

cware server

In addition to the monitoring motion alarms, the system can also enable system health monitoring.  In the event of events such as loss of connectivity to a server or the failure of a video feed to an encoder, an e-mail can be sent out to system administrators who are responsible for maintenance and upkeep.  This ensures that the system can proactively prevent and notify of potential performance issues.
cware log

The system also provides comprehensive logging, including operator activity, alarms and so on.  The log viewer tool then enables system managers to search and extract valuable information as a CSV file. This can then be imported into 3rd party systems, such as excel, to assess performance such as response times, number of alarms and so on.

Videowall
Within the control room, there will be high performance rack mount workstations connected to a large screen LCD displays.  These workstations will be powered by the Cware Videowall application.  Each workstation can display up to 16 or more video streams from remote cameras on wither a predefined or custom layout.  The Control Centre clients can manage the display of the cameras onto the video wall by simply clicking a tab at the bottom of the screen and choosing which cameras they would like to display.  It is proposed to utilise one or more of the screens as a dedicated alarm display whereby all incoming alarms from cameras can be shown to highlight this to the user.

control room


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.

Cware


Building a CCTV security system: cameras with intelligence

September 28, 2009

Across the site both internal and external cameras can be wired back to various collection points and utilise POE (Power Over Ethernet) thereby reducing the amount of cabling required and saving costs. These collection points will house encoders (if not IP cameras) that will convert the analogue video from the cameras for distribution onto the network via a fibre or wireless transmission device.

To further enhance the performance of the cameras, each encoder or IP camera can be equipped with Intelligent Video Analysis (IVA) to enable intelligent motion alarm detection.  The IVA provides reliable video motion detection for indoor or outdoor use. IVA is state-of-the-art intelligent video analysis that reliably detects, tracks, and analyzes moving objects while suppressing unwanted alarms from spurious sources in the video.  The key advantage of using this technology within the encoders or IP cameras is to enable detection of  perimeter breaches while improving the reliability of alarms and reducing operator work load.

The algorithms within IVA intelligently adapt to background environmental conditions such as rain, snow, clouds, and leaves blowing in the wind while built-in tamper detection generates alarms on camera hooding/masking, blinding, defocusing, and repositioning. Image stabilization ensures detection even with shaky video sources such as cameras mounted on poles or simple vibrations.

Within IVA, the following tasks can be selected:

• Detect objects entering, leaving or just being within an area (detector field)
• Detect loitering in an area related to radius and time
• Detect idle object within a configurable time span
• Detect removed objects within a configurable time span
• Detect trajectories/routes of objects, passing in the scene, displayed with tracking lines
• Detect multiple line crossing from single line up to three lines combined in a logical row
• Detect condition change properties such as size, speed, direction, and aspect ratio change within a specified time span (for example something falling down)
• Alarm task script manager in the expert mode to combine tasks logically

Up to eight independent tasks can be selected and combined in the scene to build sophisticated detection rules, each one individualized with its own parameters. This allows the detection of multiple object states in parallel, generating separate triggers that can be handled independently or in combination.

To enable the detection of alarms, rules are setup on each encoder or camera individually based on the scene that the camera is looking at.  When one of these rules is breached, an alarm will be sent back to the central server and be distributed to alert the operators.

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

Intellegent Video Analysis


Planning a security system

September 24, 2009

It is important to focus at the ongoing technology developments to assess what will be possible for a solution of the future.  Controlware are constantly integrating and developing new technology within our Cware platform making it one of the most advanced systems available on the market today.

One of the key components of a system is to ensure the platform has a scalable architecture so that it can grow with user requirements.  The Cware platform is an IP based network solution that utilises IT network infrastructures to ensure a common platform of operation.  Based on a clustered server architecture Cware enables unprecedented levels of resilience.  The clustered approach enables us to treat all of the CCTV servers and storage as one virtual pool of devices.  In the event of a failure of one device, the other members of the cluster can take over to ensure near constant uptime of the system.

The main aim of the system should be to provide the most useful event information to the right people at the right time to enable effective response and identification of perpetrators, reducing the likelihood that a similar incident would occur again.  Components such as Access Control and Video Analytics can be used to help gather this information by alerting users when policies have been breached.

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


CCTV and intelligent object tracking

September 18, 2009

ICN (Image Content Navigation) addresses a major issue for the management of large video surveillance systems. When tracking a person or object around a site it is often difficult to keep up with the target. While a map based GUI interface (available with some CCTV management platforms) partially addresses this issue by illustrating camera locations on a map, it does not provide the means to track an object as it moves between areas covered by different cameras. Having to quickly remember camera names or identification numbers, especially if CCTV operators are unfamiliar with the site complicates this task further.

ICN solves this problem by connecting adjacent cameras together with an invisible mesh of hyperlinks. All the user has to do is ‘point and click’ on the hyperlink in the video to switch cameras and continue tracking, instantly navigating from one camera to another and keeping up with the object or person. Any number of video channels can benefit from ICN support even tracking of many objects in multiple views from both live and recorded video. ICN banishes slow response times and improves operator navigation. In the future this technology will develop further so that it is possible to tag an object allowing the surveillance system and cameras to automatically track objects as they make their way around monitored sites. ICN is available for the Cware management platform and supported on Cware’s Mobile Module to monitor, control and track video on Mobile .

If you think this technology can help you, to find out more or request a brochure click here.