What's the most unusual application of surveillance cameras you have seen recently?
A major benefit of technology innovation is more application opportunities. As video cameras become better and more versatile, new uses are emerging that extend the benefits of video surveillance, often outside tried-and-true parameters. Sometimes security camera manufacturers are on the front lines to see new ways video is contributing value to integrators and end user customers. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable participants: What is the most unusual application of surveillance cameras you have seen recently?
The world’s first network cameras were launched 20 years ago, with the main idea being to stream live images in web browsers to provide more dynamic and interactive Web pages. With improved video quality and compliance to standards such as HDTV, we are now starting to see applications that bring the network camera back to its roots. CamStreamer, an Axis partner, makes it possible to stream live, high-quality video and audio using standard tools such as YouTube on laptops or smart phones and also using standard network cameras such as the Axis V59. It is truly a “back to the roots” application that is reliable, easy to install and, can also stream a live event to thousands of people, inexpensively
Emergency call boxes are commonly used in open spaces and parking lots, some equipped with a surveillance camera. Should an incident occur before the call button is pressed, there often is no useful video of the incident. Adding an Arecont Vision SurroundVideo Omni camera addresses this, offering continuous recording with 4 megapixel sensors providing up to 360 degrees for complete situational awareness. Setting the camera to 270 degrees, with three sensors pointed outward and one pointed down, eliminates blind spots. New or existing call boxes are easily upgraded, with just one IP cable and requiring only a single VMS licence from most vendors.
Video continues to move into the realm of business intelligence, extending beyond basic surveillance capabilities to provide valuable operational and management data. One of the creative ways we have seen video surveillance being deployed is for inventory control in retail applications. IP network cameras with analytics placed on or near a shelf in a retail location are used not only to catch potential shoplifting, but to alert store management when shelves are running low and more inventory needs to be procured. As retail continues to deal with monumental losses from shrinkage including internal and external theft, video surveillance is well positioned to provide much-needed relief to the bottom line as well as insights into potential marketing opportunities or improved operational efficiencies.
The most unusual application I’ve seen is the use of 360-degree fisheye cameras mounted on mobile poles for security along a marathon route. The poles were mounted on mobile units that contained power and communications infrastructure. Multiple mobile units were driven and placed along the route so that the entire route was constantly under surveillance. After Boston, marathon security is obviously being taken quite seriously. The use of 360-degree cameras allowed law enforcement personnel to cover the entire route with the least number of cameras and allowed them to see both the running route as well as the surrounding areas. Video from the mobile units was transmitted to a central monitoring location via a 4G carrier network. The viewing application allowed multiple users to log in to any camera (simultaneously) and zoom in and out of footage that was saved from the route.
I don’t know there is such a thing as unusual application of video. There is no doubt that some very unusual acts are frequently caught on video; however, I believe video is an absolute necessity in the world we live in today. Video is an important tool in detecting suspicious activity and is extremely useful during criminal investigations. Recently, we’ve heard that fake cameras were being installed in public transportation. This isn’t entirely unheard of. It only goes to show that use of video is indeed useful and can prove to be a crime deterrent. Additionally, retailers are able to use video applications to help them better understand shopper behaviour. The information that can be gathered through video can help marketing teams plan store layout, identify where best to place products, as well as help to improve a customer’s overall shopping experience.
By far, the most interesting request I’ve seen is the growing requirement for long-term video retention. Recently, we spoke with a major law enforcement department that requires retention of evidentiary video for 99 years. This is not common, but we are increasingly seeing regulations requiring retention of one to five years. This trend further reinforces that the rising value of the video being stored — how important it is to a particular organisation — is increasing almost as fast as the amount of data they generate.
Security cameras are no longer looked upon as simply providing surveillance; they are being widely used in inventory control as well as to capture images at marathons and other special events. Perhaps there's no such thing as an unusual application of video (as one of our panelists suggests). Maybe we have reached a point that video is so ubiquitous that nothing should surprise us. Still, it's interesting to contemplate some of the new ways video is contributing value. From streaming video directly to an interactive Web page to providing new insights for retailers, the role of video is changing and expanding in interesting directions. Wonder how we'll be using video in 99 years? (For one thing, some of today's video will still be saved as possible evidence!)
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