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IP network-centric surveillance – what systems integrators should consider when selecting cameras for users

The two key considerations in selecting cameras are form and environment, with particular consideration on the environment’s variation in lighting
As technology advances and more surveillance features become available, it can be difficult for security integrators to know which system will fit their customer’s needs

It’s no secret that Internet Protocol (IP) cameras are on a steady march to replace analogue video. Network-centric surveillance cameras bring a host of value to the protected premises, above and beyond traditional physical security. Now, cameras are increasingly used for safety, such as in liability claims and with analytics, thus increasing the value proposition for the end user who can deploy cameras for business intelligence, including operational and marketing improvements.

As the technology continues to increase, it can be difficult for systems integrators to know what to select for the user. 4K is a good example of changing technology, providing four times the pixel density of standard HD and twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of 1080p HDTV.

Manufacturers continue to do a great job in providing training as well as specification materials, matrixes and other information to assist. Of course, the first place to start is a sit-down with the customer or potential client. What are their security challenges and what do they want to accomplish? What is the budget and are there other processes they might use surveillance cameras for? Those are some starting questions, which should be coupled with a walk of the facility and thorough site survey.

Bob Germain, Director of Product Management, Hikvision USA, City of Industry, California, answered two key questions that may ultimately ease the selection process for integrators. What are some critical considerations in specifying the right camera for the application?

Germain: There are two main aspects to this selection criteria. The first is form factor: whether it is a box-style camera, bullet, dome or even PTZ. This is largely driven by aesthetics as well as the availability of specific lens options. The most critical consideration is the lighting environment, both day and night. If the scene has great variation in the lighting – bright sunlight and dark shadowed areas within the same field of view, for example — a camera with true wide dynamic range (WDR) would be required.

Intelligent analytics such as
intrusion detection, line-crossing
detection, audio detection and face
detection allow users to search on
specific events or actions to
improve system usability and

For less challenging lighting environments, digital WDR or even backlight compensation may be sufficient. For night viewing, a true day/night camera is always recommended, and cameras with integrated IR can provide full field-of-view coverage for clear night-time images. Avoid cameras that use slow shutter speeds to provide a night-time image, because the motion blur lose detail. If colour recognition is required at night, there are low-light colour image technologies that provide real-time colour images in even the dimmest lighting conditions. What are some of the latest features of cameras, such as higher resolution/HD, and how does that play into the overall design and installation?

Germain: Analytics are among the most cutting-edge features today’s cameras have to offer. Intelligent analytics such as intrusion detection, line-crossing detection, audio detection and face detection allow users to search on specific events or actions to improve system usability and flexibility.

As far as image quality, the latest cameras feature 6 MP and 4K resolutions at real-time frame rates. When coupled with new encoding technologies such as H.264+ and H.265, the necessary bandwidth and storage become less of a problem. When this is paired with integrated IR technology that provides superior field-of-view coverage and 3D noise reduction, the relatively poor low-light sensitivity of these sensors is no longer an issue. That used to be a concern in the past with all megapixel CMOS sensors (when compared to the old standard definition CCD sensors), but the improvements in image sensor design and image signal processing have eliminated that concern.

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