Forecourt surveillance

May 2011 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Retail (Industry)

Shell South Africa is a wholly owned Shell subsidiary company that manages the activities of several affiliates in southern Africa. Shell is one of the larger oil companies in South Africa with extensive marketing and refining assets and a product portfolio that comprises a full range of fuels, lubricants, bitumen, solvents and other chemicals.

It has a strong position in the southern African gasoline and automotive diesel sectors, holding a 17,8% share of the market with over 800 retail sites. These are distributed throughout the region and include sites with convenience stores and several highway site locations. One of the company’s latest revamped retail locations is the Shell service station located in Kensington, Johannesburg.

The keys to successful planning and construction of revamping a petrol station involve the cost efficiency of the labour, the structural engineering of the facility, and the safety and security of patrons and employees. With a high probability of incidents in such a heavily trafficked venue, video surveillance is a necessity to accurately monitor daily activities for identification purposes in the event of an incident. These criteria applied when developing the revamp concept for a Shell petrol service station in suburban Johannesburg.

The contracting company, together with AV Enforce Electronics, sought out the most comprehensive and cost-effective security video surveillance solution for the newly revamped Shell petrol location.

Megapixel solution

Arecont Vision’s multimegapixel cameras were the clear choice based on their imaging performance, extended coverage capabilities and overall ROI. The cameras provide panoramic views of the Shell service station to cover the facility’s four pump islands and convenience store. The additional pixels and subsequent resolution these megapixel cameras provide translate into pristine image detail for video surveillance and forensic investigations in both real-time and in playback modes.

Alex De Barros, divisional MD of AV Enforce Electronics designed the system, which was installed by the company’s team of technicians. AV Enforce is one of South Africa’s largest privately owned, black-empowered security companies and a systems integrator that supplies access control, video and fire detection systems. De Barros selected Arecont Vision megapixel cameras for this application for their performance, reliability, versatility and overall value.

Watching over the exterior of the new Shell service station are three Arecont Vision 180° panoramic view cameras while an Arecont Vision 360° panoramic view camera keeps watch over all activities inside the store. The cameras are strategically positioned to provide panoramic views providing the ability to digitally zoom in for a close-up of specific areas of the larger image – such as a person’s face or a licence plate number – without losing detail. An additional AV2100 2-megapixel Arecont Vision camera is used to monitor activities at the convenience store’s cash registers.

Additional components

The cameras at the Shell station in Kensington, are networked to digital video recorder (DVR) with 6 terabytes of storage, supplied by Envision Surveillance, a South African-based company that specialises in the installation and supply of video surveillance systems. Wireless transmission of digital images at the Shell service station facilitated by a Nanostation Ethernet Wireless Transmitter from Miro Distribution, a Gauteng-based distributor of wireless, networking, voice-over-IP and IP video products. The system is monitored locally from a management office on-site.

Arecont Vision’s picture quality on recorded video is the same as on live video providing detailed forensic evidence for presentation in court when required. The Arecont Vision panoramic cameras also provide an overall view of the service station that is useful as a management tool for end-user Joe Bishop and his staff to monitor traffic patterns and to help maintain the facility.

“We installed the Arecont Vision megapixel cameras to demonstrate the solution as a proof of concept at this test site,” said Tracey De Barros, key accounts manager for AV Enforce Electronics. The installation was performed with a view to rolling out the upgrade to other sites operated by Shell.

The cameras used outside the Shell station in Kensington are 8-megapixel, 180° panoramic IP network cameras enclosed in 6-inch domes. Each uses four 2-megapixel sensors and provides up to 6400x1200 resolutions at 22 frames per second (fps). Light sensitivity is 0,2 lux at F2.0, and the cameras provide image cropping and up to four regions of interest. The cameras feature Arecont Vision’s MegaVideo technology processes billions of operations per second.

The 360° panoramic view megapixel camera is used to provide a bird’s-eye view inside the convenience store. Its capabilities are similar to the 180° panoramic model, except that its 8 megapixels in total (four 2-megapixel sensors) in a 6-inch dome to provide 360° coverage. The camera also provides light sensitivity of 0,2 lux at F2.0, and image cropping with up to four regions-of-interest.

The 2 megapixel camera deployed at the cash registers employs a 1/2-inch CMOS sensor to provide 1600x1200 resolution video at 24 fps, with light sensitivity of 0,1 lux at F1.4. Other features include forensic zooming on archived video, region-of-interest, image cropping and motion detection.

Megapixel benefits

Each Arecont Vision panoramic megapixel camera can take the place of a dozen or more standard-resolution network cameras or analogue cameras, thereby contributing to an overall lower system cost. The use of fewer cameras also requires less labour and cabling while providing dramatically higher resolution. Using fewer cameras to cover larger areas also translates into cost savings related to infrastructure (cables, mounts, housings, etc), providing extreme efficiency and ROI.

The system has already proven its value by providing positive identification in a situation involving employee pilferage and to positively identify a drunk driver to authorities. “The performance and video clarity has been fantastic,” said De Barros.

“The Shell petrol Kensington site represents a new trend in systems design employing megapixel cameras over wireless IP,” said Ethan Maxon, Middle East & Africa regional sales manager of Arecont Vision. “We believe the implantation of this system configuration will be the model for similar installations in the future.”


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