Outdoor Surveillance No Longer A Multi-Camera Job

Use of IP controlled cameras grows
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When a government agency or security provider is tasked with monitoring a massive area—such as an airport parking lot—the organization would deploy about 100 outdoor cameras, each providing multiple video-feeds.

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Sony’s XIS


A solution that provides such wide-area coverage is Sony’s XIS (pronounced X-eyes). It is a two-camera high-definition (HD) approach that eliminates the need for a ring of multiple cameras. The XIS system, which is migrating from high-security government facilities to the commercial market, covers an extremely wide area to a distance of about two miles.

The XIS enables a single operator to grasp the entire situation surrounding the location without being inundated with information, said Mark Collett, Sony Security Systems Division’s general manager. That “provides a streamlined, more effective approach than providing such coverage through traditional means,” he said.

As a test project, a single XIs unit was set up during 2011 on the 300-acre National Mall in Washington to provide video security for the entire area, according to Collett. The XIS system, which incorporates the XIS‐3420 HD unit and the XIS‐3310 thermal unit, monitored the entire area from a single location in Virginia and transmitted images over an Internet protocol (IP) network for storage. The XIS system provides 240+ megapixel images over a wide 270-degree area in low light and no light or obscured conditions, like fog or a snowstorm, he said.

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The XIS system received rave reviews from the United States Park Police (USPP), for its “ability to gather vast amounts of visual data but to turn that into relevant information,” said Capt. David Mulholland, USPP Technology Services’ commander. “The system has added the equivalent of up to 100 additional cameras to our existing system, but did not leave us overloaded with data.”


Such security cameras remain popular with law enforcement, said Ian Scott, JVC Physical Security Group’s vice president. “Historically it’s been a combination of factors” why they are popular, he said. There is the perception that it is cheaper to have a camera than a person on the street, and there is the deterrence factor based on potential lawbreakers being aware they are on the camera, he said.

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PixController’s Raptor WiFi Camera

A central element to any outdoor system is reliability, Scott added. The cost of calling out a lift-truck to reinstall or fix a broken security camera is usually more than the value of the camera itself. JVC’s direct drive pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras do not use belts or gears, and that increases the unit’s working life, he said.

The JVC VN-V686WPBU offers a direct-drive motor and full–frame dual stream capability. The camera has automatic switching between day and night modes for round-the-clock surveillance, and has an efficient backlight compensation system with low-light capability.


For more remote locations, PixController offers self-contained surveillance camera systems that operate on battery power for more than a year, said Bill Powers, the company CEO. Among those are the Raptor WiFi camera, which can be triggered by small wireless sensors and once active will provide real-time images enabling law officers to catch suspects in the act.

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Canon’s VB-M600VE


Canon offers four 1.3-Megapixel IP security cameras, which feature a Canon complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor and Canon’s DIGIC NET image processor for low-light performance, according to the company. The VB-M600VE is designed for outdoor use, but the others can be fitted into an optional outdoor housing. All provide simultaneous transmission of high-quality video up to 1280x960/30 fps and include a video analytics system to identify crucial details in the video they capture.

All have a new software feature, the P/T/Z rotation and focus tool that eliminates the need for installers to adjust the camera’s P/T/Z rotation and focus settings during installation. Operators can use the Internet to remotely fine-tune a camera’s image-capture area and focus settings, or to re-set them whenever it may be required, Canon said.