Auto-tracking PTZ cameras

December 2007 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

It is not often that property developers, shopping mall and stadium managers get a positive step ahead of the criminal element. Recent innovations with CCTV cameras have enabled complex management to move the security goal posts in their favour. The writer of this article, Morris Maram, went on a tour of UK sites to investigate the latest in CCTV security designs for shopping malls and sports stadia.

Traditionally, CCTV installations are designed to provide good coverage of potential security hotspots. Cameras are installed to monitor mall passages, entrances and exits from both the building and parking areas. System designs in Europe have expanded the areas of coverage. They have taken into account the problems that they have experienced over the last few years.

The security designs at many new shopping malls and sports stadia now include PTZ cameras that are installed away from the buildings. Cameras are positioned to monitor the outside perimeter of buildings from a distance. This ensures there are no dead spots under cameras. They are now also able to monitor for any unusual activity that might be a prelude to a crime being committed. This method of design is particularly noticeable with new open-plan shopping malls and sports stadia.

At Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, this is very apparent. Cameras installed to monitor the stadium perimeter are installed across the street. The Old Trafford control room also has the ability to monitor surrounding streets up to 3 km away. Internal CCTV in the stadium is a mixture of both fixed and PTZ cameras to monitor both public areas and seating. I was surprised to discover that PTZ cameras are strategically installed so that a head and shoulders picture can be taken of a spectator in every seat in the stadium. This is a major deterrent for misbehaviour of fans.

The new CCTV designs place a greater responsibility and require more advanced skill sets for control room operators. The ability to both identify a problem and follow the culprit requires a well-trained operator. That is where new technology gives security controllers a helping hand.

Emergency Reaction Services now has auto-tracking, auto zoom PTZ dome cameras. Simply 'spot' the target person and the camera will do the rest. It will centre the subject in the middle of the screen and then follow the person wherever they go. If they leave the coverage area of the first camera, the next camera will take over when the person enters its coverage area.

There is a range of matching digital video recorders, web servers and digital keyboards. Matching control room software enables systems of up to 256 cameras to be installed and controlled.


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