By Mark Chertkow, Managing Director of Graphic Image Technologies (GIT)
As Central Business District (CBD) surveillance systems mature and expand, new add-on solutions with greater flexibility, functionality and control are being introduced. The challenge is to maintain the cohesiveness and integrity of the whole system while ensuring the benefits and advantages of new technologies are fully exploited. Around the world where new ‘safe city’ solutions are being rolled out, new DVR technologies that make more efficient use of available resources are being implemented along with innovative solutions, like video synopsis, that provide answers to longstanding problems.
The effectiveness of CBD surveillance systems depend largely on the technologies and processes put in place. But because security is a moving target, these systems need to be updated and adapted as user needs change and grow, and technology advances. In the face of limited network availability and still costly bandwidth, agile, flexible solutions that are fast to deploy, provide high levels of functionality across multiple networks and devices, and do not require additional resources, make the top of the list.
Two solutions in the surveillance sector that have recently made their way to the top of the list are a DVR solution that uses a proprietary compression technology to transmit quality live video at ultra-low bit rates and a new video synopsis solution that can reduce searching through hours of surveillance footage to minutes.
Live streaming at 1 Kilobyte per second (Kbps)
Effective bandwidth use has long been a challenge when it comes to surveillance. Consider that a mid-sized CBD surveillance system may have 400 to 1000 cameras covering different environments including schools, parks, traffic intersections, malls, public spaces, parking lots, remotely located sites or deployed in or on vehicles, etc. Visual monitoring is vital to identify and investigate threats, and manage them in real time, but as camera density increases, increasing pressure on network capacity limits how many live streams from cameras can be concurrently viewed. Minimising the bandwidth used by each camera when streaming live data has thus long been a goal, as has ensuring new additions to these CBD systems making use of different connectivity options i.e., fibre optic, Wi-Fi or GSM networks, to link into control rooms. Intelligent event notification further limits requirement for constant visual monitoring.
For six large Israeli municipalities, and more recently municipalities in Buenos Aires and Honduras, a crucial requirement for their smart city projects was a solution that would not only meet the needs of surveillance in different environments, but be able to connect via 2.5 and 3G cellular networks. They chose a DVR solution that makes use of compression technology that offers 4 frames per second (fps) live data streaming at data rates as low as 1KB/s and can connect via wired, wireless and Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) networks. With on-board recording as well as streaming capabilities, transcoding allows recording at high resolution and the ability to view footage at higher or lower resolutions on demand. Intelligent functionality includes integrated sensors, including built-in video motion detection (VMD) with an adjustable threshold and regions-of-interest that, when triggered, can send alerts to connected client applications or notifications via e-mail and SMS, and can initiate recording and activate alarms.
This solution is representative of a new wave of technologies in this field that address some of the most abiding challenges in surveillance. With its compression technology and GSM connectivity capability, it virtually removes traditional physical limitations on where and how many cameras can be deployed. It is ideal as an add-on to existing networks or as a technology refresh solution allowing access to difficult to connect areas such as parks, parking garages, vehicles and other public areas.
The other big challenge in security surveillance has been the time it takes to search through hours of footage to isolate incidents. A new video synopsis solution that can compress a day’s worth of surveillance footage into a video file of just a few minutes, facilitating fast search retrieval, is getting a lot of industry interest. It will not only isolate and provide a synopsis of action in a particular area, but will allow the user to isolate an area of the viewable image, say a vehicle or a handbag or other item of value, and will identify all action around that item only.
This is an easy-to-use standalone software application that runs off a Windows-based server. It has an intuitive graphic user interface and is capable of batch processing of video files simultaneously. It allows users to control the summary speed and event density, select and time-stamp events and browse through events frame-by-frame.
This is the kind of technology that will assist CBD surveillance systems to become more efficient and thus remain relevant.