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Video surveillance has become a part of our everyday lives, with or without our conscious awareness. While driving to work, for example, you might observe cameras at a busy street intersection that were installed with the purpose of observing individuals running a red light.
If you stop at a convenience store on your way home from work, the video surveillance system is likely to be less obvious. If you closely observe the ceiling you might notice some objects that do not look like traditional cameras. The camera(s) might be anchored inside a dark colored plastic dome attached to the ceiling.
What is Video Surveillance?If you have a camera on your cell phone and/or own a small digital camera, you already know that technology is rapidly changing. Years ago, the term Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) was
used to describe the use of video cameras to transmit a signal or image to a specific place. Although there are some people who still use the terminology CCTV, video surveillance are descriptive words that will remain relevant even as the technology changes.
Video surveillance differs from broadcast television in that the signal is not openly transmitted. Though almost all video cameras fit this definition, the term is most often applied to those used for surveillance in areas that need monitoring. Video surveillance may be used to monitor and sometimes record activities in and around your post. The signal can be monitored on site or remotely using an internet connection.
Video surveillance systems have become a standard in the security industry. Camera systems are considered a necessary tool for
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security for many internal and external security applications.
Businesses, offices, schools, and even residences may use video surveillance. The most common businesses and offices that utilize video are banks, airports, casinos, military installations, schools, convenience stores, grocery stores and hospitals. Typically, the more public access that is available, the more video surveillance is utilized.
Benefits of Video SurveillanceThere are many benefits to employing a video surveillance system. Many large buildings utilize these systems because they may have architectural features that create nooks or hidden areas on the exterior. These areas can be used as a hiding place to attack an unsuspecting person or break into the property. If there are areas around the property that are not readily visible, video surveillance can be utilized so that people inside the building can see who is entering the property and prevent access to someone they do not want on the property.
Video surveillance systems are designed to operate continuously. These systems are generally placed throughout all active public areas such as waiting rooms, hallways, entrances and parking lots. They are also used
to not only prevent criminal activity, but should something occur there is a greater chance that the perpetrator can be caught on video to assist police in finding that person.
Today's systems can be as simple as a complete one camera system in a box that you buy at the local electronics store, to the ultra-sophisticated professionally installed multi-camera, multi-recording, fully integrated, real time systems that can see in the dark, react to motion, produce color prints, activate alarms, be overt or completely covert and record down to the smallest detail. Either way, you're able to protect your facility and monitor activity in and around it.
In some environments, like banks, video surveillance is required by law. Many other industries like casinos, retail stores, commercial buildings, police stations, convenience stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants, hospitals, government buildings, private industries, parking lots and even public intersections, freeways and high crime areas are being monitored by video surveillance systems.
Many consider video surveillance systems necessary to deter unwanted activities or to detect and record shoplifting, employee theft, hazardous conditions, or
any number of other applications where it is not practical to post a security officer.
With video surveillance in place, not only does the customer get 24/7 coverage, they have a permanent record to refer back to and observe the actual events that took place. This type of recorded evidence is invaluable in a court of law and has served the public and the security industry very well by helping law enforcement identify and capture criminals.
As technology advances, so will the capability of video surveillance systems. With advances in computer chips and lower cost components, video surveillance systems will continue to improve.
ComponentsVideo surveillance systems consist of four basic components.1. Image capture
Cameras2. Image recording
Analog or Digital3. Image transmission
Fiber optic or phone lines Internet based Multiplexers
4. Image viewing Monitors/displays
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Cameras (image capture) Cameras are the starting point for any video surveillance system. The camera creates the picture that will be transmitted to the control position. Cameras come in two basic categories overt (visible) or covert (hidden). The camera can be housed, mounted or hidden in countless locations. Cameras can be fitted with a variety of lenses for use in different light conditions. Cameras can also be fixed (only showing one view) or
remotely controlled PTZ (pan tilt and zoom) that can be controlled by an operator to observe a much larger area and zoom in on selected subjects.
DVR - Digital Video Recorders (image recording)DVRs record the input from the individual cameras. A basic DVR is simply a hard drive (like the one in your computer) that stores images digitally. Intelligent digital video management systems can be very sophisticated and combine multiplexing, alarm/event detection, audio, text, video recording and much more. In either case the image recording unit not only records the camera input, it also has the ability to play
back previously recorded information. Depending upon the sophistication of the unit, various degrees of playback, stop motion, date and time stamps and single picture generation are possible.
Multiplexers and signal transmission (image transmission)Put simply, a multiplexer allows several camera signals to be recorded onto a DVR. To do this it synchronizes the camera signals, allowing every camera to be replayed independently from the recording device, regardless of how many cameras are recorded on that device. In addition, each image is stamped with a time and date caption. Many multiplexers also provide the ability to view several cameras simultaneously on one or more monitors (multi-scene pictures). This is particularly useful when there are a large number of cameras across a site. Transmitting the signal from the camera to the multiplexer, monitor or recording device can be accomplished with; direct wiring (all equipment at the same location), wireless (where hard wiring is impractical), on fiber optic or phone lines (for transmission to an offsite monitoring and or recording location) or over the internet. Using a manual controller, the operator (on site or off site) can control movable cameras and view other fixed camera input.
Monitors (image viewing)The picture created by the camera needs to be reproduced at the control position. A video surveillance monitor is virtually the same as a television receiver except that it does not have the tuning circuits. Today, monitors are available in a vast array of sizes, resolutions and aesthetic designs; with options in monochrome (black & white) and color. Color monitors are advantageous in applications where identification is important, e.g. someone wearing a red jumper and blue jeans can be identified more effectively on a color monitor than someone who appears dressed in dark grey on a monochrome monitor.
Video Surveillance ValueVideo surveillance systems can enhance business operations by improving loss prevention, access control and augmenting physical security services. Additionally, video surveillance can also lower liability and reduce insurance premiums and payouts. 1. Reduce crime
Theft Violence Vandalism Accidents Terrorist acts
2. Records events Legal documentation
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3. Control access Visual control of access
points Intruder alert
4. Augment business efficiency Identify hazardous
conditions Identify inefficient
5. Lessen liability Documentation can reduce
personal and corporate liability
6. Reduce insurance rates Insurance costs are often
less when properties have video surveillance
Future Video Surveillance TechnologyAs with any technology, there are always improvements and the current technology will become antiquated. For example, biometrics are being introduced into video surveillance.
What is biometrics? Biometrics consists of methods for uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits. 58 With biometric technology incorporated into video surveillance cameras they will be able to measure and analyze physical and/or behavior characteristics for authentication, identification or screening purposes. For example, the camera will be capable to identify a person based upon traits such as
manner of walking, voice, or facial features.
As a Security