Where Do You Fall on the Video Surveillance Learning Curve?

Campus protection pros must understand the latest IP security camera advances so they make the right decisions for their institutions and districts.

The use of video surveillance continues to increase in mindshare for K-12 and higher ed administrators based on survey results published in the November/December issue of Campus Safety. That survey identified that 41 percent of K-12 survey respondents indicated they either didn’t have enough video surveillance or that the equipment they have was obsolete. More than one in five higher ed administrators indicated the same sentiment. In both cases, concerns related to video surveillance increased year over year and ranked fourth and fifth respectively in the top concerns for these organizations.

But will adding more cameras or updating existing legacy equipment really drive the outcomes you expect? The answer really depends on how well you understand the benefits and limitations of IP addressable network cameras and your ability to keep up with the rapid advances in technology.

Video Analytics Makes Cameras More Proactive
Video surveillance has traditionally been used to verify incidents after the fact. That mindset is rapidly changing as video analytics mature to a point where cameras can proactively alert security professionals who can then intervene in real time. This paradigm shift will continue to evolve each year as camera processing power increases.

Some common analytics that have been widely deployed include video motion detection, which reduces storage by recording on events only; camera tamper alarms, which alert security professionals when a camera is obstructed; and cross-line detection for proactive notifications of perimeter incursions.

If you’re not looking at your video surveillance system as a source of real-time intelligence you might be either using outdated technology or not taking advantage of your existing investment.

Not All Analog Systems are Obsolete
Speaking of leveraging investments, based on the survey responses, many organizations are concerned about what they feel is obsolete equipment. Is that analog camera obsolete? Not always. If it meets the operational requirement of identification, recognition or detection for the given scene, you might want to consider using an encoder to digitize the image. That way you can gain most benefits of a truly networked camera.

By leveraging encoders, organizations can create a migration strategy that reduces the upfront costs of moving to a networked solution, spreading it across a longer time frame.

Select the Right Compression Method to Reduce Costs
Budget limitations usually have an impact on the scope of camera deployments and other security projects. The single largest cost allocated to video surveillance is the storage component, particularly in cases when higher resolution cameras are used or when analytics are not being leveraged for event-driven recording.

Network cameras compress video before sending it across the network with the most common compression technique being H.264. That stated, this compression standard has different levels and profiles defined, which affect the bit rate. This means that not all iterations of H.264 are the same. Some products can reduce storage requirements by 50 percent using innovative approaches to H.264 that are compatible with existing storage solutions. That 50 percent savings in storage costs could be put toward additional cameras or other security measures. Understanding the latest in compression techniques and working with vendors who are leading in this area could result in the ability to expand rather than limit a project’s scope.

Don’t Forget About Lighting
One of the biggest deterrents to criminal activity is providing adequate lighting on campus after hours. Not only does it deter crime, it also increases image usability for visible light cameras. Increasing light in a scene not only produces better images but also decreases bit rate, which directly impacts storage requirements.

Innovations in lighting have gone beyond the introduction of LED luminaries that provide lower power consumption with better color rendition. Today, cameras are being integrated directly into lighting fixtures for outdoor spaces, combining hemispheric cameras to get a 360-degree view of the area directly below the light. Some even have audio capabilities that can play a recorded message or allow security professionals to address people in the vicinity. These new lighting options provide interesting alternatives when replacing outdoor fixtures.

Stay On Top of Video Surveillance Advances
The impact of innovation is often overlooked based on the simple fact that it appears to be accelerating. Who has the time to keep up with it all? You might want to make the time. Doing so could have a positive impact on your bottom line as well as your ability to provide a safe and secure learning environment.

James Marcella is the director of technical services at Axis Communications.

Read Next: Survey Finds Acceptance of Security Cameras on Campus

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