Video Innovations With Real-World Applications

New video surveillance products and solutions are often touted as having a game-changing influence on the market, leaving campus security professionals to sort out fact from fiction. Here are several technologies whose time really has come.

“We work with more than 700 application partners today for one main reason: because they are the analytic experts. They invest in creating advanced, custom software that can run on the backend or even be uploaded onto the camera or encoder itself, if the hardware has an open platform,” Nilsson says.

Today’s various applications can range from the basic to the advanced and include analytics that detect the deviant (motion detection, tripwire); improve campus operations (people counting, dwell times); increase the value of surveillance (auto p/t/z tracking, tampering alarms); and intelligently search recorded data.

Optimize Analytic Solutions With High Quality Cameras

Prior to installation, Nilsson advises campuses to understand the percent of accuracy of the analytic application that is being recommended. Also, be sure to select cameras with high image quality and exceptional processing power for optimal results.


About 60 to 70 percent of effective analytics today can run inside the camera, or “at the edge,” which will increase the scalability of the campus system by reducing the need for additional servers or power. And as processing power increases according to Moore’s Law—which states that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 24 months—this percentage will only increase.

Another important message: Video analytics, long considered a cost center, now has the potential for creating an actual return on investment (ROI) for a company, according to Jim Talbot, CEO of Ionit, a provider of digital video solutions.

“Video analytics is sometimes viewed as a purchase add-on. However, it’s more than just the integration of traditional video surveillance systems with video analytics software. Today’s systems gather information from multiple sensors,” Talbot says.

Understanding shopper behavior in stores, for example, is paramount to retailers improving operations and increasing sales and profits. Video-centric business intelligence systems can provide permanent, verifiable data for analyzing customers’ in-store experience. The systems correlate customer traffic counts with point-of-service (POS) data and other sensors such as radio frequency identification (RFID), shelf-monitoring systems to report conversion rates per shopper (how many people are entering vs. how many people are actually buying) and by individual SKUs.

“It is cheaper, mo
re reliable and provides longer-term data than surveys or simple compilations of merchandise purchase statistics,” Talbot says.

Systems Are Evolving From VHS to SDXC

Even as the antiquated VHS cassette still remains in use to record security-related events, a sea change in storage technologies has occurred since the time tape was king. From DVRs, NVRs and hybrid devices, to server-based solutions and IP-based storage area networks (SANs) that connect multiple servers to a centralized pool of disk storage, seemingly there’s a recording platform to fit any requirement.

Among the recent developments in video surveillance storage is the use of solid-state drives (SSD), which allow video data to be stored onboard the camera. Also known as flash drives—the most common of which is the Secure Digital (SD) memory card—consumers commonly use these removable storage cards in camcorders, cell phones, MP3 players and the like.

In the past few years, many IP camera providers have begun to offer onboard storage capability with SD cards. Ever-increasing memory card capacity and compression standards such as H.264 are helping fuel wider adoption.

“SD cards are a valuable backup tool. It should be employed not as redundancy, but as a backup tool, which is especially useful when relying solely on a network in the event of a failure,” says Ken Jones, director of strategic accounts for Hikvision-USA.

Standalone IP cameras outfitted with the removable storage—normally with 16GB or 32GB Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) cards—are able to record a few days of footage inside the camera. Typically these models are geared toward applications such as small office settings or retail shops.

Notably, in 2009 the Secure Digital Association, which develops and publishes technical standards for SD card technology, released a new specification for the cards called Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC).

This next-generation SDXC memory card specification increases storage capacity up to 2TB. Although it could be five or more years before 1TB or 2TB SDXC cards hit the security industry, 64GB and 128GB SDXC cards are expected to provide viable onboard storage options in a far shorter time frame.

The greatly increased memory capability of SDXC cards clears the way for video surveillance at sites that are otherwise not conducive for installing servers and other recording platform infrastructure.

Nonetheless, as with the adoption of most technologies, there are various limitations that must be considered. Namely, video management systems (VMS) for the most part do not currently support data transfers from SD cards, although VMS providers such as Milestone Systems are developing this functionality.

Is Centralized Storage a Thing of the Past?

Emblematic of technology’s sometimes “game-changing” evolution, higher performance network cameras and greater memory capacity offered by SDXC cards has some industry pundits foretelling the demise of today’s centralized storage. The suggestion here is that storing video at the edge will offer campuses greater surveillance flexibility. Case in point: An organization could install freestanding cameras throughout its facility without increasing its existing centralized storage capacity.

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