Mega Uses for High Def Video

Applications that utilize the high definition imaging of megapixel cameras and IP-based video surveillance solutions are popping up all over the place, pushing the boundaries of security ever further from its core.

<p>The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection uses megapixel day/night cameras as part of its surveillance efforts to thwart illegal dumping.</p>When Tim Dame, an investigator for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), was sent to Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood to inspect an incident, a local resident approached him. The woman wanted to know what could be done about a large, unsightly pile of construction debris and appliances dumped right next to her yard. Just like broken windows that stay broken and invite more vandalism, piles of illegally dumped materials only attract more of the same.

Dame and his colleagues initiated a program to identify, prosecute and ultimately deter perpetrators from dumping solid waste on city streets, vacant lots and public land. The emerging “model” for successful covert surveillance involves megapixel day/night cameras powered by flexible solar panels. The cameras are housed in electrical boxes mounted high atop poles to provide protection against vandalism and a good field of view. 

To date, Dame and MassDEP have developed a number of successful set-ups in which the cameras recorded the dumping, as well as captured license plate numbers that were used to send out fines and aid in further prosecution.

“We want the camera systems to run efficiently without a great deal of manual intervention, and we also need to be nimble, so that we can move cameras easily to locations where we’re having dumping,” Dame says.

The MassDEP staff has added WiFi technology to the evolving camera model. Now Dame and colleagues can sit in their cars, click a button to activate a wireless router, and download video without disturbing the cameras or drawing attention to the ongoing surveillance operations.<p>Warsash Maritime Academy near Southampton, England, provides educational training to the international shipping and off-shore oil industries. The Academy’s use of bridge and engine room simulators employ megapixel technology that allows instructors to observe students and instrumentation.</p>

Now in operation for more than three years, MassDEP in Boston and three neighboring towns have to date successfully caught and prosecuted 34 cases of illegal dumping resulting in many tens of thousands of dollars in collected fines. Tickets can oftentimes amount to $1,000 or more. If the perpetrator is a contractor or the waste is of a “nastier’ variety,” fines can run up to $25,000 per incident, Dame says.

Going for the Gold in London

A U.K.-based company specializing in video analytics supplied a special wide-angle, 5-megapixel IP camera to be installed on top of the roof at Forman & Field, a renowned salmon smokery in London. The rooftop location is a mere 100 yards from Olympic Stadium, which will be the centerpiece of the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Paralympics.

The camera’s high resolution and installation specifications were designed to allow viewers to zoom in closely to selected scenes. The camera delivers low-bandwidth video images to a server for remote viewing, while simultaneously recording megapixel images onboard the camera.

The project goal was to create a time-lapse video of the entire stadium building process, which began in May 2008. To that end, installers customized the camera’s software to record a photograph at 2 p.m. each day of one particular scene, transferring the video image via FTP to the company’s hosting server. The release of the time-lapse film will coincide with the opening of the London Olympics on July 27.

Training Mission Accomplished

Warsash Maritime Academy near Southampton, England, provides first-class education and training to the international shipping and off-shore oil industries. The Academy is part of Southampton Solent University. It has about 14,000 students and 1,100 staff at its main campus and two other locations, including Warsash, where the use of bridge and engine room simulators for advanced-level training were pioneered.

The Academy’s ship engine room simulator previously was monitored by a legacy analog system which, in low-light conditions, produced video images of unacceptable quality for simulation training purposes. Each camera had its own monitor and could be manually switched to a VHS tape recorder, which meant only one camera output could be recorded at any given moment. Editing facilities were quite primitive and the VHS output was of too low quality to project to large audiences when sharing test results with international stress research colleagues. 

Six megapixel cameras were installed to provide superior video monitoring of all activity in the engine room simulator.  IP-based megapixel cameras delivered immediate value by facilitating remote access to cameras views. Also, the IP cameras can be easily moved to different locations within the simulator room to provide instructors with different view configurations.

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