Video Surveillance at 4fps – Over Cellular and Low Bandwidth Networks?

New technology and smart approaches drive security advances.

November 14, 2012

By Mark Chertkow, MD of Graphic Image Technologies

New technology and smart approaches drive security advances. In the financial services, and particularly the banking sector, visual monitoring is a core component of almost every integrated security solution implemented–at retail level, for operations and external surveillance, and for monitoring of key assets, such as ATMs. But video typically requires a high capacity wired broadband connection, not something generally available in remote locations in South Africa. The entry of new technologies using advanced video compression technologies that enable video streaming over cellular and other low bandwidth networks can help resolve this challenge.

Despite the massive infrastructure build-out South Africa is experiencing, bandwidth constraints are still very much a reality, especially in remote areas. With visual monitoring and surveillance possibly the most vital element of any security system – it is generally the main means to identify the nature of threats when alarms are triggered, to retrospectively investigate incidents or audit procedure, as well as enable security personnel to monitor and manage threats in real time — having ongoing access to footage is critical.

While equipment vendors and service providers alike recognize the problem, and numerous products claim to be able to compress video sufficiently, it has remained a challenge – until recently. Professional video recording and transmission systems that include video gateways – DVRs with live video streaming capabilities over cabled, wireless and cellular networks — are enabled by compression technology which makes possible transmission of video at four frames per second, or 4fps, at data rates as low as 1KBps. With local (on board) recording as well as streaming capabilities, transcoding allows recording at high resolution and the ability to view at higher or lower resolutions on demand. Live and recorded video can be viewed on-site, with a closed-circuit TV screen, or remotely.

The capabilities of these devices are impressive. Event detection is done via built-in video motion detection (VMD), input sensor, or internal video-loss sensor. Event notifications are sent via e-mail, SMS, or pop-up alarm. And users have remote Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) control, even from smart phones and PDAs.

The units have removable SD cards (4-64 GB) for local recording, as well as integrated sensors, including VMD with an adjustable threshold and regions-of-interest. The platform also supports the integration of external sensors such as smoke detectors, light sensors as well as window or door sensors. In the case of an alert, video recording of cameras located in the relevant areas of interest can automatically begin recording and send notifications to the desired personnel.

These devices come in different models that are tailored to varied environments. From small devices with one or two video camera inputs for smaller remote sites or a vehicle, to devices with multiple feeds that would suit enterprise grade site-monitoring or application in an entire commercial complex, a perimeter or fleet of vehicles.

All devices make possible remote centralized monitoring of any site, from any location, at any time. Remote users can access live video from any moving platform or location at any time via their PC, smart phones or laptop.

Connectivity includes: built-in GPS support that enables location tracking; built-in 3G/3.5G GSM/UMTS/HSDPA modules; a USB interface for cellular modems (GSM and CDMA) and wireless communications (WiFi, WiMax); and a built-in router with Ethernet connectors for connecting external IP-based devices to the network.

In a nutshell, this technology gives us now what we will take for granted in 10 years’ time – live video on demand without having to increase operational costs in any material way.