Future needs require integrated, intelligent CCTV systems

November 2004 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Technology should deliver mankind's dreams, not dictate them, and in the case of CCTV security solutions, future expectations all point to the need for integrated, intelligent systems.

Dr Bennie Coetzer, joint managing director of local high level electronic surveillance and digital video recording systems designer and manufacturer, Thales Advanced Engineering, says the future expectations of end-users, security consultants and consulting engineers can be summed up in a five-component 'wish list' that would like to see CCTV security systems provide:

* Realtime processed information for decision-making.

* Specialised, intelligent subsystems.

* User-orientated, configurable human interfaces.

* Full integration into management information systems.

Dr Bennie Coetzer
Dr Bennie Coetzer

The means to conduct complex inter-system analyses that will support human operators.

Coetzer adds that rapid change is the norm today and that system improvements are an ongoing process. "However, systems incorporating the latest technology are expensive and we need to ensure that they are not rendered obsolete within a few years. It is important to evaluate the life cycle cost to the customer, the impact of new technology on that cost and at the outset design systems that are modular and can be upgraded.

"Among the benefits that we are relying on future technology to bring about are better picture quality, lower costs, greater reliability, longer storage periods, greater numbers of cameras and more user-friendly systems with greater automation."

Such benefits and improvements to system capability must be achieved within an overall objective to meet the needs of customers over the long term: "We have to design systems in logical blocks, integrated yet independent of one another. This way, any significant technological advance will not suddenly require a customer to replace his entire system.

"Our systems should be made up of specialised modules that generally allow for internal expansion and improvement. It is also important to design hardware in a way that software upgrades do not require hardware upgrades. The focus should be on open interfaces, long term system architectures and overall generic design."

Coetzer sees 'futuristic architecture' as the development of fully integrated systems using dedicated video backbones simply because of the vast volume and unique requirements of video access on LANs, particularly for continuous transmission.

Linked to these would be separate but integrated systems for proactive video surveillance, management information, building support information, reactive event analysis, video recording and video analysis including motion, content and other factors, access control, perimeter detection, building analysis and alarm inputs.

"The goal of such a system is better decision making. It is not just about linking systems, it is doing this with a purpose - the presentation of relevant information, such as images, alarms, status reports, exceptions in order to make quick decisions on an informed basis."

There are a number of areas where technology advancements will result in system improvements. These include compression techniques such as selective compression; storage in terms of greater capacity at less cost with improved management; image processing enhancements to improve the ability to identify and be defensible in court; restoration techniques to overcome noise, mechanical aberrations and distortion; and in image analysis to extract key information.

Other areas of technology advancement include dedicated visual microprocessors with the ability to mix analogue pre-processing and digital processing. Such processors could cope with 50 000 images/second, reduce bottlenecks and ensure that only non-redundant data is used.

Image analysis is an area where Dr Coetzer says there is considerable scope. Increasing attention is being paid to biometrics (face, iris and fingerprint identification), multiple object analysis (number of people or cars for traffic flow volumes), motion analysis (speed and direction), behavioural analysis, facial expression and activity identification (whether a person is walking, crawling, running or staggering).

"Such advancements will lead to event detection through image analysis, giving location, size, direction, speed, smoke, fire, oil or chemical spill. Intelligent systems will allow tagging - the adding of sophisticated metadata such as directional movement and specific individual identification."

Such developments would, among other things, enable video recordings and databases to be searched via content as opposed to event timing, which would be very useful, for example, in identifying and tracking the movements of known criminals or international terrorists.

For more information contact Thales Advanced Engineering, Dr Bennie Coetzer, 011 465 4312, www.thales.co.za

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