The A.B. Davis Middle School in Mount Vernon, N.Y., is serious about enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy on violence, drugs and gangs. That is why the school recently installed 104 Toshiba digital CCTV surveillance cameras. Integrated into an IPVideo Corporation Enterprise Surveillance System, the cameras provide school administrators with a complete indoor/outdoor eye on the campus.
Panasonic’s WV-SF135 S pecifically, 94 Toshiba IK-WR01A vandal-resistant network dome cameras have been mounted in cafeterias, hallways and classrooms. Outside, 10 Toshiba IK-WB21A PTZ-style network cameras are fitted inside heated enclosures to monitor parking lots and play areas.
All of the cameras are connected back to A.B. Davis’ Security Operations Center, where eight 19-inch LCD monitors can watch all of the feeds (using in-screen windows) at any given time. The video is captured on a digital video recorder with four terabytes of storage capacity enabling both live and stored video to be accessed remotely by authorized users with Internet access.
“This system is truly state-of-the-art,” said David Antar, the president of A+ Technology Solutions, the Bayshore N.Y. integrator that installed the school’s digital CCTV system. “It is a good feeling knowing that we are protecting children while they get the education they need to improve their lives.”
DIGITAL OVER ANALOG
Because there is a widely held opinion that the 21st Century is the “digital century,” it is no surprise that A.B. Davis Middle School installed a digital CCTV system, rather an a 20th century analog equivalent. But the reasons digital CCTV makes sense goes beyond the fact that analog video products are obsolete and generally unavailable.
The U.S. Navy’s ‘Sea Fox’ surveillance platform Photos courtesy of Toshiba
Obviously, digital CCTV cameras and support equipment are smaller, more modern, and perform better than analog CCTV technology. However, what really makes digital CCTV stand out is its “ability to turn images and audio into data and then transmit this data over a network or Internet connection,” says Sergio Collazo, Toshiba’s director of surveillance and Internet protocol (IP) video products.
“[It offers] Greater flexibility to add cameras, better camera performance (megapixel resolution), easier installation and better system integration.” T hat is just the beginning. As shown by the A.B. Davis Middle School, digital CCTV systems can be remotely accessed from anywhere. Video is also stored digitally, making file retrieval and transfer easy to execute.
Digital CCTV cameras also benefit from the overall advances being made in network camera resolution and performance. “More processing power inside newer network video cameras provide greater performance and efficient H.264 compression, which maintains superior image quality using about a third as much data,” says Bill Taylor, the president of Panasonic System Networks Company of America. Generating less data reduces the bandwidth required to move digital CCTV signals, thus cutting installation and operational expenses.
That is not all for adaptive technology enables cameras to image-correct video, providing superior images regardless of extreme contrast, backlighting or changing light conditions within a single scene, Taylor tells Government Video. “In-camera intelligence can also enable additional system capabilities such as facial recognition and even relative determination of age and gender,” he said. Cameras are also getting smaller while maintaining functionality for applications such as on public transportation including buses, trains, subways, ambulances, taxis as well as secure vehicles such as armored cars.
Many digital CCTV cameras can be purchased as wireless units. This allows them to be deployed wherever required on an ad hoc basis, without the time and money needed to run cables and link them back to the main monitoring station.
Typically, wireless digital CCTV cameras are used by police departments to add surveillance in a hurry; such as outside a crack house before a raid is staged. However, there are many other creative ways that wireless digital CCTV can make a difference, such as the U.S. Navy’s “Sea Fox” surveillance platform.
The Sea Fox is a remotely controlled, unmanned 16-foot Zodiac-style boat that can get up close to suspicious targets fast and quickly stream live color video back to a Windows PC workstation. This is a tough, fast boat: Thanks to its 200 horsepower, jet fuelled engine, the GPSequipped Sea Fox can move as fast as 45 knots in 8 foot seas for upwards of 24 hours.
The boat’s “eyes” are two Toshiba IK-WB11A wireless network cameras, backed up by network video equipment empowered by netSCOPE Inc. software. The two cameras are mounted on a pole, one viewing forward, the other viewing behind to give the operator a 115-degree horizontal viewing area. Each camera provides full screen views (640x480) or side-by-side (320x240), and the operator has P/T/Z control of both cameras up to a mile away from shore.
WHY DIGITAL CCTV
Clearly, digital CCTV has advanced far beyond the wired bonds of fuzzy, low-resolution analog CCTV. When installed properly, a digital CCTV system can provide a highly flexible, highly accessible surveillance solution. Better yet, it can be used in a variety of government applications, from offices and schools, to military bases and mobile deployments.
If those benefits have persuaded anyone to install a digital CCTV system, it would be prudent to ask and answer a few questions before procuring any equipment.
To start, it is good to know why a digital CCTV system should be deployed. If the goal is to secure access points, then the digital CCTV system need only cover entrances/ exits and accessible windows. There is no reason to put cameras in the halls. But if complete coverage is called for, then a mounting plan needs to be developed to ensure that all relevant areas are within camera range.
The next question asks the user to determine if live coverage is needed, or should the video be archived as well? If the digital CCTV system is to only be used for access control, then not adding a digital video recorder might be acceptable. But what if something happens during a delivery? Without stored video, it would be impossible to review the incident after the fact. In other words, in most cases it does make sense to have some form of digital video storage just to be safe.
The final question is should the system be wired or wireless? If digital CCTV cameras are destined to remain at fixed locations, it is probably prudent to run wire. Even with the best encryption, wireless is not as secure as wired CCTV, and wired connections are not prone to RF interference from other users. Conversely, wireless connections make sense if surveillance cameras need to be moved around. Wireless can also support a fast and inexpensive installation for any kind of CCTV network.
The bottom line is that today’s digital CCTV systems provide more than just live video monitoring. They can serve as the eyes of an extremely functional, remotely controlled surveillance solution, which is much more than the analog CCTV “quad view” (four window) display found at small retail operations can ever provide.