Published on 3 February, 2015
“The quality couldn’t be clearer – something the police hope will help capture the criminal you are about to see.” The local news report then shows an image from the surveillance camera video of an ATM robbery in Arlington, Texas.
The video depicts a black Kia automobile rolling up to a Wells Fargo ATM, and the 21-year-old female driver makes a withdrawal. The video then shows a robber sneaking around the ATM and surprising the victim. He’s holding a cell phone in one hand and a pistol in the other. In the news report, the victim recalls: “He didn’t say anything until he got up to my window. I didn’t see him or hear him. He just popped up in the front and was like ‘hey, give me the money.’” Then the robber forced the victim at gun point into the trunk of her own car. And he drove away.
But just a second before getting into the car, the robber paused and stared directly into the surveillance camera as if just realising that video had captured the crime from start to finish.
In that second, he also provided police with an infinitely useful clue to his identity. It’s an extremely clear image of his face, not blurred or dark or obstructed in any way. As the news reporter says: “The quality couldn’t be clearer.”
That single video frame speaks volumes about how today’s video surveillance images have improved. For decades, surveillance footage replayed on local news reports has shown criminals in the act, but often those images are blurred or too dark or otherwise less than optimal. In this case, the clear image demonstrates what’s possible with today’s technologies. (There was an element of luck, too – he looked directly into the camera to allow a perfect image of his entire face.)
We hear a lot in our market about pixel counts, wide dynamic range, low-light imaging and other technical jargon related to video images. But in the end, it comes down to the ability to provide a clear image that can help law enforcement find the perpetrator.
The Arecont Vision dome camera in this case was even acknowledged in the news report: “The only witness was this camera” – cue an image of the camera. You could even see the Arecont Vision name, but you have to look fast. If you blink you miss it. It’s a rare public acknowledgement of how far video technology has come.