Digital video recorders (DVRs) - Expert commentary

The intrinsic role of lighting for video surveillance clarity and performance
The intrinsic role of lighting for video surveillance clarity and performance

The sound of sirens in the distance is commonplace, nowadays. Whether related to a medical emergency or everyday crimes, such as theft, property crimes, and so on, we’re all accustomed to hearing these sirens by now. It is worth noting that many incidents that police respond to take place at night. According to a recent report by the Sleep Judge, more than half of murders, manslaughter, sexual assaults, robberies, aggravated assaults and motor vehicle thefts happen long after the sun has set. To anyone looking to address the round-the-clock security challenge, deploying the most comprehensive surveillance solution is a must, and this means, looking at the instrumental role illumination plays in video capture. Limitations of traditional video surveillance For surveillance cameras relying on video analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver functionalities such as facial recognition, license plate reading and motion detection, nighttime crimes can pose something of a problem. Without adequate illumination, images from video cameras are grainy and unusable.If surveillance cameras can’t be used to prevent, detect and/or resolve crimes that occur in these areas, the entire security operation is obsolete Without proper lighting, potential criminals and moving objects essentially become indistinguishable, at night, thereby inhibiting even the most advanced security technologies. This limitation of traditional surveillance technology not only hinders immediate police response, but it also stops crime investigations dead in their tracks. Often, without video evidence that is clear and discernible, conviction in a court of law is next to impossible. A common response to this issue is to place security cameras near streetlights or well-lit areas. After all, according to NPR, street lights are effective in deterring crime,  as “there are people such as neighbors, pedestrians, or police, to actually see suspicious activity.” However, even if streetside and primary entrances are well lit, the areas that still need most to be surveilled are rear or side doorways shrouded by darkness, unlit back alleys, and so on. If surveillance cameras can’t be used to prevent, detect and resolve crimes that occur in these areas, the entire security operation is obsolete. Best-in-class security solutions must be able to see everything, day and night. A purpose-designed illumination solution Addressing this issue is easier than you might think. Much like a human eye needs some sort of light to “see,” so does video surveillance technology. Integrating external illuminators into a security solution can optimise camera performance exponentially, expanding a camera’s video capture and coverage abilities and ensuring the operation of video analytics, day and night. Opting for an external illuminator allows system integrators to select a device that matches the exact emission range of a camera’s field of view (FOV). The result is an evenly lit visual field, where captured images are clear and effective for security purposes. The two most common options available to integrators include infrared (IR) and white light illuminators. Each technology is built to optimise particular deployments, depending on their needs. Infrared versus white light IR illuminators emit IR light, which is invisible to the human eye and perfect for covert surveillance operations. When cameras need to be able to detect potential threats over long distances, IR illuminators are perfect for the job as they typically have longer emission ranges. IR illuminators are optimal for surveillance operations in license plate recognition, border patrol, safe cities, theme park, and medical sleep lab applications.Cameras deployed without proper illumination are rendered blind, especially at night If an end user needs to implement full-color video analytics for identification purposes, such as facial, object and license plate recognition, white light illuminators are undoubtedly an integrator’s best bet. IR illumination and traditional thermal security cameras, after all, are only able to provide black-and-white images, whereas object recognition software often identifies objects based on their color. White light illuminators installed alongside AI-powered surveillance cameras enable enhanced video image clarity, which, optimises video analytics performance. When customers want to physically deter suspicious activity, deploying white light illuminators is effective. A recent study out of Crime Labs New York found that businesses that deployed visible lights to deter crime “experienced crime rates that were significantly lower,” which “led to a 36 percent reduction in ‘index crimes’”. On top of all this, LED based white lights operate at low running costs and typically have long lifespans, saving end users thousands of dollars a year in energy costs without having to sacrifice surveillance optimisation. External versus built-in illumination Security customers looking to use lighting to deter crime and improve the performance of video surveillance may consider “all-in-one" solutions, as some cameras have LEDs (light emitting diodes) built into them. These LEDs typically encircle the lens and therefore shed light in whatever direction the camera is pointed. However convenient these may seem, built-in illumination can cause problems. First, LEDs built into cameras and next to other electronic components often cause heat to build up, which attracts insects that can trigger motion detection and obstruct a camera’s view. This heat buildup also shortens the LED lights lifespan. Built-in LEDs also tend to create “hot spots” with glare and reflection back into the camera, often because these lights only cover a 30-degree field of view (FOV), even though the average camera’s FOV is 90 degrees. This issue can severely limit a camera’s visibility, essentially rendering those remaining 60 degrees dark and unusable. All in all, when integrating lighting solutions into your security deployment, a cost-effective solution that enhances a camera’s video capture and coverage abilities, are external illuminators because they offer flexible choices of field of view and distances. Best-in-class security solution When it comes to criminal conviction in a court of law, “seeing really is believing.” Cameras deployed without proper illumination are rendered blind, especially at night, just as any security officer would be when patrolling the same unlit area. To guarantee end users the most reliable and highest performing security solution, consider integrating best-in-class illumination into your offerings.

ONVIF Profile T and H.265: the evolution of video compression
ONVIF Profile T and H.265: the evolution of video compression

In today’s market, efficient use of bandwidth and storage is an essential part of maintaining an effective video surveillance system. A video management system’s ability to provide analysis, real time event notifications and crucial image detail is only as a good as the speed and bandwidth of a surveillance network. In the physical security industry, H.264 is the video compression format used by most companies. Some companies also employ H.264 enhancements to compress areas of an image that are irrelevant to the user at a higher ratio within a video stream in order to preserve image quality for more important details like faces, license plates or buildings. The H.265, H.264’s successor, will be increasingly used for compression in the future. Some companies are already using H.265 in their cameras and video management systems, while a host of other manufacturers are certainly preparing for its broader adoption in the years to come. Video compression technologies Reduced bandwidth and storage requirements are the primary benefits of video compression technologies Reduced bandwidth and storage requirements are the primary benefits of video compression technologies. In some cases, H.265 can double the data compression ratio of H.264, while retaining the same quality. Increased compression rate translates into decreased storage requirements on hard drives, less bandwidth usage and fewer switches – all of which reduce overall costs of system ownership. H.265 compression delivers a lower bitrate than H.264, which is relevant to end users and integrators because the lower bitrate reduces strain on hardware and can reduce playback issues. It’s very important that the compression format that is used is supported in all of the different components of a system: cameras, desktop computers on which the VMS is running and the VMS itself. It is also good for end users and integrators to understand the basics of video compression. Having a basic understanding of compression allows users to tweak settings to reduce bandwidth usage even more. Many cameras come with default settings that can be changed to ultimately reduce costs. ONVIF physical security In the physical security industry, ONVIF is working to incorporate into its specifications the use of new formats such as H.265 but is not directly involved in developing the compression standards themselves. With Profile T, the new ONVIF video profile released will employ a new media service that is compression agnostic. This means that it can support new video compression formats, including H.265, as well as new audio compression formats, with the ability to include new video and audio codecs as needed in the future without having to redesign its media service. In the physical security industry, ONVIF is working to incorporate into its specifications the use of new formats such as H.265 Standardisation organisations that are directly addressing new compression standards include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and a joint commission of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which is addressing the coding of audio, picture, multimedia and hypermedia information. Other compression formats on par with H.264 and H.265 are being developed by companies such as Google. H.265 compression formats Using products that employ H.265 compression will reduce costs through bandwidth reduction, as will changing default settings on cameras, which are often conservative. Having a basic understanding of compression formats and how to tweak camera factory default settings also gives integrators the ability to further reduce bandwidth for added costs savings and increased system performance. These enhancements will analyse which parts of an image are most important and adjust local levels of compressions accordingly It is also worth noting that H.265 enhancements will likely be developed by camera manufacturers to further reduce bandwidth, as was the case with H.264. These enhancements will analyze which parts of an image are most important and adjust local levels of compressions accordingly. While H.265 itself is ready for prime time, its value as a tool for IP-based surveillance systems is dependent on support for the codec in all parts of the system – the VMS, server hardware, graphics cards and camera. Though widespread H.265 adoption is predicted, providers of these components are jumping on the H.265 bandwagon at different rates of speed. ONVIF is including support for H.265 in its new video profile, Profile T, because it believes it will become the most widely used compression format and ONVIF recognises the need to anticipate that migration as a future need of the industry. The new media service, which will be implemented with Profile T, will be future-proof in that when new compression formats are released in the future, ONVIF can adopt them very quickly. That flexibility will definitely help integrators.

HD over Coax provides cost-effective video surveillance upgrade
HD over Coax provides cost-effective video surveillance upgrade

According to IHS Market, it is estimated that there are over 60 million security cameras in the United States, and other reports say these cameras capture more than four billion hours of footage per week. Over the last decade, IP camera technology has dominated the conversation as it has provided users with a broad offering of enhanced image quality and features. With a large percentage of existing security systems relying on analogue, many end users looking for high definition (HD) video quality have been forced to take on a complete system overhaul. Infrastructure overhaul for HD video To make the switch, customers would need to change everything, from cameras to hardware to wiring– not to mention the lengthy installation process that would ensue. IP cameras also require higher Internet speeds and more cloud space. Whether constrained by budget, bandwidth or storage, many end users have been unable to adopt this new video surveillance method.Thanks to technological advancements within the security industry, HD over Coax offers a viable solution for integrators and end users alike Thanks to technological advancements within the security industry, HD over Coax offers a viable solution for integrators and end users alike. By utilising the current Coaxial cables, this offering yields high definition video, while requiring minimal infrastructure changes and is an optimal surveillance choice for security customers. Plus, with new advancements and updates being made frequently to this technology, there is a solution for every security need. The enhanced alternative of HD over Coax has been warmly welcomed in the security industry, thanks to its simple solutions and ever-evolving features. Many new analogue HD cameras are “plug and play,” able to connect directly to existing Coaxial cables. This eliminates the need for a complete system change, creating cost-savings for the end user and an enhanced video quality offering. Easy solutions for HD video As a result, integrators can cost-effectively upgrade their customer’s surveillance solution while using their legacy infrastructure, making it an attractive option for end users and an easy sell for dealers. Latency in video is another common issue with network-based camera systems, where even the slightest delay in video surveillance can hinder security response HD over Coax cameras themselves are always expanding and evolving to meet a wide array of security needs. With the introduction of fisheye and multi-sensor cameras, users now have a multitude of coverage options, not to mention the introduction of 4K bringing resolution options to the same level as IP. Some newer technologies are even touting 4K cameras paired with 4K digital video recorders (DVRs) made specifically for analogue systems. Longer cables grant transmission for up to 1600 feet, double the distance of standard analogue solutions, and triple that of IP systems. This single cable is able to transmit both HD video and audio. Recently, broadcast quality audio over Coax has become available in limited models, a substantial improvement over older analogue technology, which was unable to transmit audio. Stopping video delay Latency in video is another common issue with network-based camera systems. Even the slightest delay in video surveillance can hinder security response. IP cameras are forced to compress and packetise their video for transmission. The outcome of this is a reduced number of images per video, which in turn causes delay. HD over Coax on the other hand, delivers an unlimited amount of HD images in real time, with smooth motion and impressive clarity. Additionally, the point-to-point transmission delivers uncompressed video free of lag. Another touted benefit is that, unlike IP networked cameras, analogue systems provide a more secure video transmission. With so much sensitive information housed on a businesses’ network, adding another point of network access through an IP camera can create concerns for cyber security risks. HD over Coax delivers an unlimited amount of HD images in real time, with smooth motion and impressive clarity Preventing network hacking With HD over Coax, the physical connections between the camera and DVR prevent network hacking. By keeping the video surveillance system offline, security professionals are able to direct their attention to the physical threats at hand, rather than having to focus on deterring cyber security risks. One of the primary difficulties of deploying HD video solutions is the fact that many older systems utilise a wide variety of HD standards and platforms. To make matters more complicated, after HD over Coax was brought to market, manufacturers raced to create their own version of this technology. Today, the most popular proprietary standards are HD-CVI, HD-TVI and AHD. However, integrators and customers found that attempting to manage multiple HD technologies proved to be near impossible.Integrators and customers found that attempting to manage multiple HD technologies proved to be near impossible Diversifying surveillance through one DVR To combat these issues, manufacturers have introduced products with more flexibility to their portfolios. One example of this is the penta-brid DVR which grants the ability to seamlessly integrate multiple technologies deployed across one application. This means that systems with diverse camera brands and technologies, such as a mix of HD-CVI, HD-TVI, AHD, analogue or IP, can be connected through one DVR. For many end users with legacy analogue systems, penta-brid DVRs give them greater freedom to choose between a variety of solutions, rather than being limited to one option. With video resolution increasing, the space needed to store the footage is similarly rising. Penta-brid technology has been able to adapt to these evolving needs, giving users ample storage space to house the HD and 4K surveillance video with some of the newest models including H.265 compression.  HD casino surveillance made simple For casinos, HD images are critical for identifying unauthorised personnel and unlawful behaviours to create a safe environment for guests and staff While HD over Coax is beneficial to many end users and integrators, those in the casino and hospitality markets find it crucial. With a combination of high profile guests, large amounts of cash on hand, constant crowds and strict industry regulations, reliable video surveillance is a must. Deploying new IP systems comes at a stiff price. When looking to upgrade their video surveillance, casinos must also be mindful of the installation process. When moving to an IP-based system, ripping out old wires and replacing them with new is the standard practice. This practice can be both disruptive and costly, not to mention gaming regulations require casino activities be monitored at all times so a complete system shutdown would result in revenue loss. This cost can be hard to justify, especially when the current legacy analogue system remains in working condition with only the lower image resolution to date it. For these scenarios, the most cost-effective option is to leverage the legacy infrastructure, replace the existing cameras with new devices, and reap the benefits that HD video has to offer without any lapse in security. For casinos, HD images are critical for identifying unauthorised personnel and unlawful behaviours to create a safe environment for guests and staff. HD over Coax cameras now offer the same resolution as IP cameras with a plug and play approach, that cuts down on expense without sacrificing quality. For businesses and applications that are unable to adopt IP technology, whether it be cost or time prohibitive, HD over Coax now features most of the same benefits IP has to offer without breaking the bank. By providing clear images in real time, maximising existing infrastructure, and affording cyber security benefits, HD over Coax provides an attractive solution for many end users and integrators.

Latest Axis Communications news

ASSA ABLOY’s Aperio wireless locks and AXIS Entry Manager access control software integration offers a cost-efficient system for end users
ASSA ABLOY’s Aperio wireless locks and AXIS Entry Manager access control software integration offers a cost-efficient system for end users

Businesses are always looking for cost-efficient solutions to upgrade their security level. AXIS Entry Manager’s customers can now extend access control efficiently and affordably with Aperio battery-powered locks from ASSA ABLOY. Online integration of the AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller with Aperio cylinders, escutcheons and locks give facility managers real-time control over more doors. Administrators continue to manage every locking point from one AXIS Entry Manager interface, thereby saving time and removing the need to complete extra training. AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller operates on a flexible platform, built to adapt as a site’s security needs change AXIS A1001 Network Door Controller operates on a flexible platform, built to adapt as a site’s security needs change. With this integration, battery-powered Aperio locks are controlled from the same web interface as wired door devices. Because the integration is online, it enables real-time control plus door and user audits on demand. “This integration is the first we have ever done with our access controllers,” explains Ernst Westerhoff, Business Development Manager for Access Control in Europe at Axis Communications, adding “At the end of the day, it costs less for the end-user.” Aperio RS-485 Hub Once installed, an Aperio RS-485 Hub coordinates up to 8 Aperio devices within a 15- to 25-metre range, communicating with the central system via the AXIS A1001. One AXIS A1001 can manage one wired door and one Aperio hub, for a total of 9 doors maximum per controller. AES 128-bit encryption secures all communication between locks and security systems. Aperio locks are wireless, so they require no expensive cabling to install. The AXIS A1001 uses Power over Ethernet (PoE), which eliminates any need for power cabling to controllers. Aperio is cost-efficient during the use phase, too. Wireless Aperio locks Because they run on standard batteries, Aperio locks are much more energy-efficient than equivalent wired door locks. Unlike wired locking, Aperio devices are not connected to mains electricity and use no power when inactive. According to recent ASSA ABLOY benchmarking analysis, choosing wireless over wired locking could bring a large reduction in access control energy use, more than 70% or thousands of euros over a typical installation’s life-cycle. Greater flexibility to expand system coverage Aperio offers Axis end users much greater flexibility to affordably expand or modify their system coverage" “Aperio offers Axis end users much greater flexibility to affordably expand or modify their system coverage. If needs change at a facility, for example, managers want to filter access through more doors, it’s quick and easy for an installer to fit Aperio locks and integrate them online with the AXIS Entry Manager control panel.”, says Lars Angelin, Aperio Business Development Manager at AAOS. The integration allows users to open all wired doors and Aperio wireless controlled doors with the same credential, via almost any standard RFID technology including iCLASS, MIFARE, HID Prox/EM410 and Seos. “We offer to our customers the benefit of easy set-up for wireless access control. They just mount a wireless lock or wireless cylinder to a door and they have full access control,” adds Westerhoff. Streamlining access management The new integration has already been deployed at H-Farm, a business education and innovation hub in Italy. They sought a solution to streamline access management at a geographically dispersed portfolio of buildings. H-Farm experiences rapid user turnover, both because new businesses join regularly and because they organise up to 300 events every year. New locks had to extend the existing Axis system without adding admin workload. Aperio handles, security locks and escutcheons To meet their needs, H-Farm selected Aperio handles, security locks and escutcheons, each easy to retrofit To meet their needs, H-Farm selected Aperio handles, security locks and escutcheons, each easy to retrofit, so as to ensure that day-to-day work at their offices would not be disrupted. So far, 40 Aperio H100 wireless door handles, plus the Aperio wireless locks and wireless escutcheons, have been installed across multiple H-Farm locations in northern Italy. Most of H-Farm’s interior doors are secured with the award-winning Aperio H100 wireless handle, a former Intersec Access Control Product of the Year. The H100 wireless handle packs the flexibility and affordability of wireless access control into a slim door handle. Wireless access control hardware A standard battery slots inside and powers the handle, ensuring a minimal footprint. ASSA ABLOY’s device design team incorporated electronics into the handle lever on the outside of the door, without compromising security. “Aperio wireless access control hardware is solid, nice looking and perfectly fits our environment, solving our access problem,” stated Alberto Aldrigo at H-Farm. H-Farm has a strong track record supporting innovation and creativity in European start-ups. The company focuses on skills development, new approaches to education and digital transformation. With the help of seamless integration from Aperio and Axis, the latest transformation upgrades their own access and security management.

Axis study reveals impact of COVID-19 on physical security industry
Axis study reveals impact of COVID-19 on physical security industry

Axis Communications, a global industry front-runner in network video, has released the results of a recent partner survey in a new whitepaper exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the physical security industry. The online survey, conducted in December 2020, sought the views of senior decision makers within circa 200 partner companies across the UK and Ireland. It is hoped that through the results partners and the wider security industry will be able to make more informed decisions on future business opportunities. The enduring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have yet to be fully grasped. Its initial impact on businesses in the UK and around the world was swift and gave rise to a great many challenges. As businesses adapt to the new social and economic reality and lay down plans for the year ahead, many will want to implement necessary measures to mitigate the effects of further recurrences. The report identifies ways that technology can facilitate a smarter, safer world, by helping businesses to continue to operate through careful management of social distancing and other COVID-led requirements. New security approach Axis’ ‘listening project’ also sought insight into how it can better support its partners and their customers in 2021 Axis’ ‘listening project’ also sought insight into how it can better support its partners and their customers in 2021. While the majority of partners continued to work, albeit some with limited capacity, under their classification as essential services, 41% of respondents expressed concerns about their supply chains, while anxiety over general economic recovery was repeatedly referenced as a top concern for both partners (67%) and their customers (55%). What is clear is the need for ongoing support as partners and customers embrace new approaches to security, with strong customer support viewed as essential. Effective business operations David Needham, Sales Manager of the UK and Ireland, Axis Communications, commented, “Despite the unprecedented disruption that COVID-19 has caused, Axis is proud to have been able to effectively respond and adapt. To further demonstrate our commitment to offer support wherever possible, we launched a survey in the region to identify the main challenges, needs and expectations of our trusted partners, their customers, and wider stakeholders.” “Through careful analysis of the experiences of senior decision makers from a wide range of industries, we will be able to determine where the greatest support is needed and identify ways that technology can facilitate safer and more effective business operations.” Analytics, contactless entry and video surveillance Over half of the partner companies that responded serve medium to large enterprises in a wide range of industry sectors, with more than one in ten employing over 1000 people. Analytics are highlighted as being key to ongoing success, with crowd management and assistance with appropriate social distancing measures also welcomed. In addition, contactless entry to avoid the unnecessary touching of shared surfaces, and integrated solutions such as video surveillance combined with access control, are emphasised. In terms of which particular sectors are viewed as having the most potential in the year ahead, (73%) of respondents cited commercial, followed by industrial (58%) and education (50%). Changes in workflow Process changes have also been widespread throughout the physical security industry On the effects of the pandemic to businesses to date, changes in workflow were reported by most respondents, who indicated that both they and their customers have been challenged by the shift to remote working that has accompanied COVID. HR issues were raised as a cause for concern by 29% of partners; and 33% of end customers, according to the partners, had been affected by HR related issues and 32% by their ability to effectively function remotely. The survey responses indicated that process changes have also been widespread throughout the physical security industry, but few regarded this as a concern. Respondents touched upon a number of key areas, such as increased use of video conferencing, a shift toward remote management systems and changes in sales activity. A third cited changes in service delivery and sales processes (34%). Many believe that the increased emphasis on health and safety processes would likely continue, even as restrictions are eased. Survey outcomes in the Whitepaper The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been widespread and often difficult to gauge. The Axis survey results contained in the whitepaper shed light on the issues facing businesses in the security industry and their customers, as well as their willingness to embrace modern technology, such as automation, analytics, and touchless tools to mitigate those concerns. The responses will help Axis meet the needs of its partners and customers, and continue to find ways of innovating for a smarter, safer world.

Will the new decade represent a ‘Roaring Twenties’ for security?
Will the new decade represent a ‘Roaring Twenties’ for security?

The “Roaring Twenties” was a decade of economic growth and widespread prosperity, driven by recovery from devastation, a construction boom, and welcoming of new technologies such as automobiles and electricity. As we look ahead to the big picture of the 2020s, 100 years later, are there parallels that suggest a successful decade ahead? Might recovery from the devastation of COVID-19 help to drive even higher levels of economic growth and technical innovation? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Does the new decade represent a new “Roaring Twenties” for the physical security market?

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