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Digital video recorders (DVRs) - Expert commentary

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.

Video surveillance must modernise in storage, recording and on-demand access
Video surveillance must modernise in storage, recording and on-demand access

Dollars spent by video surveillance customers must go towards ensuring high-availability capture, storage and on-demand access to live and archived video. Reaching this goal mandates high-availability of independent components – camera, network, storage (edge, external), internet connectivity, display, all Video Management Software (VMS) components and an architecture that can take advantage of this. In this note, we focus on seeing our way through to a video surveillance architecture, that provides high availability storage, access to live and stored video content. Of all options available to store recorded video, edge recording is the only one that is unaffected by network failure Edge recording Of all options available to store recorded video, edge recording is the only one that is unaffected by network failure. This makes edge storage a must-have. But, this has some limitations at present: Edge storage capacity is limited. Edge media has a short lifetime, rated only for thousands of hours of continuous recording. Most cameras are not secure and physical damage to the camera could lead to catastrophic loss of edge stored content. As storage and compression technology evolve, the constraints imposed by (1) and (2) could go away. However, securing cameras will continue to be a barrier for most installations. Secure external storage It is thus imperative to also store video in secure external storage. Such an architecture uses edge storage to fill in content gaps created by network, external storage outages. As edge storage technology improves, larger gaps can be filled in, but one will always need external storage. By our definition, ‘external storage’ is a solution stack that includes storage media and all software (including VMS) that provide access to this storage. Access to live and archived video Access to live video can either be met by external storage or directly by the camera Every surveillance solution needs to provide access to live and archived video. Access to live video can either be met by external storage or (and) directly by the camera. All things being equal, having the camera directly provide live video access, is a higher-availability solution. There is dependence on fewer components in the chain. Solutions in the market use one of the above two approaches for access to live video. Due to limited capacity and low physical security of edge storage, it makes sense at present, to have external storage meet all requests for archive video. Thus, we are led to an architecture that has heavy dependence on external storage. Dual-recording For high-availability, external storage must be architected with redundancy. Ideally, independent components that make up external storage – storage media, associated hardware and software (including VMS components), should be individually redundant and have smart interconnectivity. However, solutions in the market rigidly tie these components together. Failure of a single component causes failure of external storage. For e.g. hardware failure of a server causes VMS component failure AND storage failure. DR provides a smart way to provide high-availability for external storage For these solutions in the market, high-availability is achieved by having additional external storage units that step-in during outages of primary units. If these additional units continuously duplicate primary units, access gaps are minimised, and archive access is un-affected during primary unit outages. This is the idea behind Dual-Recording (DR).  To meet cost budgets, these additional units can be configured to store subsampled (framerate, resolution) video content. A small number of additional units can support concurrent outages of all primary units. A few-to-many redundancy. Rising need for dual-recording Most cameras cannot be physically secured, and video content produced by a camera must be stored externally. Many VMS solutions use external storage to service live video access requests. Edge storage limitations impose restrictions on edge archive access at present. So, external storage is used to service requests for archive access too. Thus, a surveillance system ends up being over-dependent on external storage. DR provides a smart way to provide high-availability for external storage. As edge storage improves, it will be able to service archive access requests. VMS software will need to evolve, to use this capability smartly.

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Visimetrics' FASTAR CCTV recording solution secures Napoleons Casinos
Visimetrics' FASTAR CCTV recording solution secures Napoleons Casinos

 Visimetrics, digital video surveillance specialist, is a proven quantity for surveillance systems within the casino industryLeading manufacturer of Digital Evidence Recorders™ for CCTV and surveillance applications, Visimetrics, have provided their flagship FASTAR CCTV recording solution to A&S Leisure's Napoleons chain of casinos in Sheffield, Leeds, Hull and Bradford.Operational Director of A&S Leisure Group, Mark Allen, says, "Visimetrics are a proven quantity for surveillance systems within the casino industry. With clear experience and reference projects in place, they came highly recommended by our systems integrator Zepha Security and industry colleagues alike. We needed a very high quality recording system with clear video and audio output that could be used easily by our staff on site while also providing remote access to our sites from head office. We were also keen to ensure we had a fully flexible solution that can be easily extended moving forward."While I'm happy to say the solution in practice has proved excellent, the experience of working with Visimetrics in designing and delivering our surveillance system has been invaluable. We are benefiting further from this by collectively looking at ways of using the recording systems to bring more information together. A current example is the integration of till information - linking our EPOS data with the video recordings using the data recording feature within FASTAR."Visimetrics Business Development Director, Gary James, says, "We're delighted that A&S Leisure has chosen our solution for their casinos. Our recorders are used daily to gather evidence of cheat moves, theft, barred persons, self-excluders etc. We've focused heavily on casino usage in the development of our management software, CONTROL SMS. Various tools and features have been incorporated for the management, review and export of footage by surveillance, security and compliance departments."By far the core of FASTAR's daily usage is in resolving gaming disputes quickly. While the need for high quality video is obvious it's the audio content and quality that becomes essential in these circumstances and is often the deciding factor in closing disputes satisfactorily.The implementation of the FASTAR solution at all Napoleons Casinos is now completed and the EPOS project is currently under development.

Playerbook™ Facial Recognition System debuts at IFSEC 2011 by Visimetrics
Playerbook™ Facial Recognition System debuts at IFSEC 2011 by Visimetrics

 Playerbook Facial Recognition System launch will take place at IFSEC 2011 Leading CCTV storage systems manufacturer, Visimetrics (UK) Ltd, will be launching their new Playerbook™ facial recognition system at IFSEC 2011. Playerbook has been developed to operate reliably in the lighting conditions normally found in casino environments. Powered by Omniperception's facial recognition engine, the new application is the result of a 2 year development process between the companies.Gary James, Business Development Director of Visimetrics says "The background to the development of Playerbook originated from many of our casino clients who indicated that a form of non-intrusive, reliable subject identification would be of significant benefit to them in dealing with the public. Casinos have a vested interest, for compliance and commercial reasons, in identifying certain types of visitors on entry to the venue. We knew from our experience of digital CCTV systems that the various forms of lighting within casinos create shadowing, reflection and glare. These effects have a significant impact on the reliability of facial recognition. We knew we needed to find another approach to solving the problem and identified the unique facial recognition process Omniperception developed as the core engine most likely to meet the consistency and reliability needed in casinos."Gary continues "At the heart of the system is a subject watchlist that allows security and surveillance staff to automatically detect self-excluders, barred/crime & disorder subjects, advise on entry subjects, VIP's and more. Playerbook operates in real time, providing reliable and consistent identification. The critical challenge was to develop a system, which reliably detects faces in the low or zero light conditions you find in casinos. We believe we have achieved this successfully. Playerbook works by locating the 500-600 unique facial identifiers of individuals as they pass the IR sensor. Using a unique illumination and polarisation filter system, Playerbook is able to consistently compare the detected facial identifiers with subjects already stored within the watchlist regardless of shadows, glare or reflection. The watchlist search is completed instantly. When there's a match between a subject entering the venue and the watchlist, Playerbook alerts staff immediately via the GUI, SMS or email. Playerbook has been successfully proven using ground-truth validation testing within one of the largest casinos in the UK. The invaluable input from the management and staff was critical to the development and refining process to achieve a reliable solution within such a difficult operating environment." "Playerbook operates in real time, providing reliable and consistent identification. The critical challenge was to develop a system, which reliably detects faces in the low or zero light conditions you find in casinos. We believe we have achieved this successfully..."Playerbook @ a glance: Light immune - uses a unique lighting solution designed to work in dark environment Fast - captures facial identifiers and compares these against a 'watchlist' in real timeAccurate - Playerbook is powered by Omniperception's facial recognition engineConvenient - Playerbook's non-intrusive IR sensor identifies subjects to a range of 5 metresEasy to use - simple workflow using browser based app to add individuals to watchlist Playerbook will be demonstrated at the Intelligent Integration Zone on Stand E140 in Hall 4.If you would like to arrange an appointment for a demonstration in advance of the show, please contact Gary James on e-mail or on tel: 01292 673 770.Playerbook captures facial identifiers and compares these against a 'watchlist' in real time.

Visimetrics to launch Forensic Investigation Network Database at IFSEC 2011
Visimetrics to launch Forensic Investigation Network Database at IFSEC 2011

 The metadata extracted from the video as it is being recorded is used by FiND for creation of databaseLeading CCTV storage systems manufacturer, Visimetrics (UK) Ltd, will be launching the result of a £1M research and development project at IFSEC this year. FiND will significantly reduce the search time of large periods of CCTV recordings for key points of evidence. The R&D project team includes the DTI's Technology Strategy Board, Loughborough University, PERA and Visimetrics.Craig Howie, Commercial Director of Visimetrics, says, "Following the London bombings in July 2005, the Metropolitan Police Service reviewed over 100,000 hours of CCTV footage as part of their incident investigation. This process consumed a huge amount of operational man hours and significantly increased the amount of time required to progress the investigation. The issues faced by the police in this instance inspired a technical solution to significantly reduce the time, man power resources, (and costs) needed to review large amounts of CCTV recordings while searching for key points of evidence." "FiND - Forensic investigation Network Database - has been developed with the capability of linking to any CCTV recording system to create and index key objects of interest at the time of video capture and storage. The technology works by allowing operators to search via a powerful 'FiND' processing engine that immediately identifies relevant footage. By inputting key parameters, the system will search the database of classified objects and display relevant images using thumbnail identification, ready for review. The speed of response is derived from searching the object data index, rather than the traditional video based 'region of interest' search, using selected areas of a specific camera." "FiND will reduce the search period of days, weeks - or months - worth of digitally recorded video down to a matter of seconds..." FiND emerged from initial research undertaken by Loughborough University evaluating the most technically challenging aspects of using automated video analysis to search large volumes of existing CCTV recordings for key or 'known' objects of interest. Performing complex video analysis on recordings from public space cameras in particular is challenging and the development team had to overcome many limitations affecting image quality. These included camera position, height, skew and shake as well as common issues such as lighting, colour consistency and video interlacing. Resolving these issues is essential in order to perform accurate evaluation to reach a stage where you can analyse the video. Two areas in particular quickly became evident as barriers to progress: colour consistency and lighting/shadowing. The team developed algorithms to overcome these barriers and this dramatically improved the video consistency and the accuracy of results.The stored metadata is negligible in size when compared to standard resolution and frame rate videoGenerating colour and lighting consistency formed the foundation for the research and development of a comprehensive set of algorithms specifically aimed at resolving vehicle classification, people classification, license plate identification using CCTV cameras, text/logo detection, baggage detection, complex background processing and PTZ compensation. A number these algorithms are completely unique.FiND functions by the creation of a database of key objects of information extracted from the video as it is being recorded. This information is normally referred to as metadata and provides the source of results for all future searches. The stored metadata is negligible in size when compared to standard resolution and frame rate video. Thus, storing all key objects of interest from an entire system in this way becomes irrelevant in overall storage terms. The metadata is created in real time by processing the recorded video using the unique algorithms. This process captures all relevant objects within each video scene to give operators a wide range of search criteria for any future investigation.As an example of the scope of search the criteria can be set to 'person wearing red shirt'. Further refinement can be added to achieve 'person wearing red shirt, carrying a back pack at a specific time of day'. Searching in this way then occurs across the entire source of metadata from all cameras. This produces the most comprehensive set of results from entire recording systems using a single step process.In vehicle classification derived attributes take the form of number plates, logos, signage, etc.FiND classifies objects as part of its identification process. Object classification is based upon a hierarchical approach beginning with the determination of either vehicle or person(s). Once a person(s) or vehicle has been classified, further feature determination is performed, right down to very basic attributes such as shape, colour, location relative to the frame, time, characters etc. Basic features are then used to FiND derived attributes such as the presence of a suitcase, backpack etc. when classified as human objects. In vehicle classification; derived attributes take the form of number plates, logos, signage, etc. The derived attributes are stored alongside the basic attributes for use in all future searching.According to Craig Howie, "FiND will reduce the search period of days, weeks - or months - worth of digitally recorded video down to a matter of seconds. The range of search criteria, evidential algorithms and pre-indexed video gives users the means to view the matching images as they work. The speed and accuracy of results makes the running and re-running of searches practical as more off-line information relating to an incident becomes available. There is no need to select individual cameras, 'regions of interest 'or wait for short sections of video to be indexed on-demand before viewing. FiND searches the pre-indexed video across the entire recording system to quickly identify images matching the operators search criteria."FiND is available as an extension to existing recording systems. FiND has also been developed for true portability of the algorithms and metadata creation for use within embedded products such as IP cameras, video encoders or DVR/NVRs. FiND is also available with a software interface providing the means to integrate the search tool with legacy or third party applications and systems.

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