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Network / IP - Case Studies

Video surveillance gets smarter with Sony in Verbania
CCTV cameras in Verbania
The Sony video solution in Verbania uses 10 SNC-RX550 cameras, 2 NSR-100s and 3 RSM clients

The challenge

Verbania, the capital of the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, was created when the towns of Intra and Pallanza merged. As one of the most idyllic and famous tourist destinations on Lake Maggiore, the town relies heavily on holidaymakers to fill its streets and generate income.

The regular influx of visitors means greater attention must be given to the security of people as they go about their business, whether recreational or professional. This was the motivation behind the town council's decision to trust in Security Consultant Mario Grippa's recommendation to launch a community surveillance project based on a system of network cameras. For image transmission, he also suggested trialling an innovative alternative to conventional cabling systems. Mario Grippa also advises Milan city council on its traffic control and management system.

The solution

The decision was made to design a video surveillance system for monitoring certain strategic locations in the town (which has the peculiarity of being divided into several sections), including streets and critical zones such as pedestrian walkways, ferry terminals and the dock area. An invitation to tender was issued, first for the selection of innovative cabling technologies and subsequently for an intelligent camera network. With regards to the latter system, the council opted for Sony and its new SNC-RX550 cameras. The cameras incorporate intelligent image analysis functions and possess a number of innovative features. They have high sensitivity to provide clear images even in lowlight conditions, and a powerful 26x optical zoom to guarantee coverage of wide areas with exceptional image clarity.

Verbania town council was supplied with ten motorised network cameras, which are operated by two different control centres; one in Pallanza and another in Intra. Each centre was fitted out with Sony NSR Series Network Surveillance Recorders coordinated by Sony RealShot Manager software.

The Verbania surveillance system installed by Sony works on the Distributed Enhanced Processing Architecture (DEPA) platform, which makes IP monitoring systems more intelligent, efficient and responsive. DEPA technology actually frees up network and back-end resources resulting in improved surveillance quality, reduced bandwidth usage, shorter search times and optimised archiving capacity.

"The network cameras proposed by Sony represent the latest generation in surveillance technology," explained Security Consultant Mario Grippa. "You could describe them as intelligent or 'self-learning' cameras, in that once programmed, they can detect threats without human intervention. Although the cameras function locally and independently from one another, they are nevertheless interconnected. In fact each instrument is self-contained and can circle, record and manage images on a local basis. The entire system is programmed to

 Sony's SNC-RX550 network camera
The lens quality of the SNC-RX550 cameras enables users to film objects at a distance of up to 200 metres
carry out high-quality, continuous recording 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The smooth, clear images apply both to live displays and recorded footage. Furthermore, the lens quality of the SNC-RX550 cameras enables us to film objects and events at a distance of up to 200 metres."

The advantages

Mario Grippa and Verbania town council are thoroughly satisfied with the security project. The project was completed in just two months and was in operation by the end of 2006.

"Sony has successfully integrated advanced image analysis processes into its network camera. Previously, this kind of analysis would have required the deployment of a central server, considerably raising the costs of implementing and managing the infrastructure. A medium-sized municipality such as Verbania might not be able to sustain such an expense. In this case, Sony has demonstrated its ability to harness a technology which its competitors have yet to master. It is not just the self-learning concept which has proved decisive; it is the fact that network cameras used for community surveillance have adopted technological innovations which were previously non-existent."

Monitors linked to the ten SNC-RX550 network cameras are installed in the Verbania Municipal Police control room, which is currently undergoing restructuring. Even so, the system does not require the intervention of dedicated security operatives. The human element only comes into play when real-time monitoring is needed (for example during a major event), or when an automatic alarm is triggered.

Furthermore, Verbania town council is trialling a more complex solution alongside the Sony video surveillance system. As part of this scheme, the Municipal Police Commander has been provided with a portable PC which can be used to control the video cameras by radio and point them in a particular direction.

RealShot Manager in action, using Intelligent Motion Detection (IMD)
Sony cameras fitted with NSR Series Surveillance Recorders, coordinated by RealShot Manager software

The reasons for the choice

Compared with conventional network cameras, Sony intelligent IP cameras represent a turning point.

"This type of technology will become the future of street surveillance and monitoring. By choosing Sony we knew we could count on an innovative partner that offered leading technological solutions. We were positively surprised by the image clarity, even in poor light. Today the Municipality of Verbania can rest assured that those who commit crime will be identified, thanks to technology which directly recognises objects and reads vehicle registration plates. In fact, our network cameras have been positioned so that they can monitor all arrival and escape points in every area of the town. Intelligent image analysis functions now enable us to keep special areas such as no-stopping zones under control. Using these features, live images can be monitored in unattended mode until suspicious activity occurs, at which point the operator is proactively alerted to the threat by means of an appropriate alarm. This is why we opted for the Sony solution; it enabled us to implement a project which was previously unfeasible."

In fact, the Municipality of Verbania project is a pilot scheme which could lead the way to a similar video surveillance system to be implemented in larger communities, beginning with the city of Milan.

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