CCTV over the years

August 2005 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

In the last four years we have seen the market trend move from analog to digital. We have witnessed dramatic changes in CCTV camera technologies and improved our existing DVRs to encompass integrated solutions.

The demand for day/night cameras has increased substantially over the past 18 months. The phenomenal rise has caused the global world to find quick and cost effective ways to manufacture these cameras to cater for this demand. This translates to better cameras at reduced costs to the clients.

Technologies such as digital signal processing (DSP) and IR filters are fast becoming standard features in cameras today. We also see the increased use of vari-focal lenses, some even standard with certain models of dome cameras. These additions aid and promote the enthusiastic move towards the digital world.

DVRs have become a standard item in any modern CCTV installation. The reasons are simple. DVRs encompass an array of management tools that increase efficiency. No longer does one have to sit at a machine to extract suspected incidents. By simply entering one's search criteria, the system will automatically scan the video logs and display the results. You may at this time inspect the results and backup the necessary data as required.

Features such as Video Overlay have been taken to management levels (POS) as well. Now, not only can one view the overlaid text, but one has:

* The ability to query overlaid text from the recorded logs - Text Search.

* The ability to report on specific items from the video database, eg, the number of Cokes sold in an hour, etc.

* The ability to flag important items, eg, over rings, etc.

* The ability to ignore unwanted text.

Newer features for live monitoring have been included. They are Object Detection, People Counting and Mosaic.

* Object Detection: the DVR takes a snap shot of a respective area. Given certain criteria, it will automatically compare the live picture to the snapshot. If any changes are detected, one is notified via telltale blocks in the affected area on the live viewing screen. This event is also logged into the detailed event logger found on the DVR system. This way, if one points the camera away from its intended focal point; the security officer is immediately notified.

* People Counting: This feature has been included to identify and manage peak traffic times within a day. Here one can generate reports daily and automatically so that store managers may effectively plan shifts so that one may ensure happy clientele.

* Mosaic: a higher security feature used when one does not want the security officers to be able to view sensitive items, eg, safes within a camera picture. Mosaic blocks out these items allowing the officers to view the balance of the area. This helps maintain a certain level of secrecy. As we all have learnt to accept, most burglaries are co-coordinated through CCTV systems. By hiding parts of a picture, one cannot pinpoint locations as easily.

These features are standard with the higher end DVRs that this market offers.

Aside from the obvious improvements towards management, market trends have insisted that we allow for home surveillance. This has led to smaller, more cost effective DVRs being introduced.

The adoption of Linux Embedded operating systems has been a fundamental milestone in making these systems more affordable for this market. Every day we witness the increase in demand for home surveillance.

The agility and compact size of these embedded machines allow for a vast array of installation types, eg, emergency vehicles, public transport etc. Being very fashionable in looks, one can easily mistake this unit for a DVD player, which makes it easy to blend in without arousing too much suspicion.

Given the value that CCTV adds to one's business, the growth within this market sector is easily understood. CCTV today offers much more than just security, it is effective management that promotes security, efficiency and peace of mind.

Rishi Raghubar, product support engineer at Regal Eltro, can be contacted on 011 792 2203.

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