The use of remote-controlled cameras as part of a video- surveillance system does not necessarily translate to better image quality, a forensic video analyst tells Government Video. But cameras with remote-control capabilities enable users to leverage wider coverage, said Larry Compton, who in addition to being an analyst is an instructor for the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association.
“Remote-control technology for surveillance systems really hasn’t changed much over the years,” Compton said. Standards for the control applications have been developed, “but fundamentally, the concept remains the same,” he said. Nonetheless, “that doesn’t impact the quality of the video.”
There are a number of reasons to deploy remote control surveillance solutions. One leading reason is that such capabilities enable the user to leverage wider coverage for a particular camera when an incident is being monitored live, he said. “The viewer might want to move the camera to an area of interest. For example, if activity is spotted in a parking lot, the viewer would likely zoom in on that.”
A number of factors influence the type of camera that is deployed to cover an area. “There’s a long laundry list of many variables,” said Compton, including the technology in the camera; the system used to transmit images; the recording equipment; as well as the particular application and the incident that is being recorded. “The technology settings and the recording systems all come into play,” he said.
The user also needs to determine why a camera is being deployed—what it is supposed to observe—in order to record the best video possible. “For every camera that is deployed, the user should have some idea of what the purpose of that camera is,” said Compton.
If all a surveillance system needs to do is record a parking lot and it does not need the capability of identifying vehicle license plates, a wide shot showing the lot would be appropriate. But a camera’s purpose may instead be identification of individuals or objects. That would require several technologies including a remote-control system.
“Purpose drives the type of technology that will be put in place there,” Compton said.
Fixed-position cameras are entry-level security cameras, according to Chuck Westfall, Canon U.S.A. Inc.’s technical advisor for professional engineering and solutions division. Weather- and waterproof dome cameras are the next step up. The third type of video surveillance system is the pan, tilt and zoom camera, “the most sophisticated,” he said. PTZ cameras enable a user to remotely control where the camera is pointed, zooming in on the subject and precisely getting the area of interest.
Among the remote-control systems to choose from include:
AXIS COMMUNICATIONS INC.
Axis offers its AXIS Q60 Series of P-T-Z dome network cameras, which includes the XIS Q6032-C, AXIS Q6034-C and AXIS Q6035-C. The series features built-in active cooling for an operating temperature of up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit for desert-like conditions, according to James Marcella, director of technical services at Axis. “The product was designed for users who have structures in remote locations with high temperature climates,” he said.
In addition, the all-in-one housing of the AXIS Q60-C models complies with U.S. military standards for high temperature, temperature shock, solar radiation, rain, humidity, salt fog, sand and dust. That the Q60-C models meet military standards is “a testament to the product’s durability,” Marcella said.
Additional features of the Q60-C line include an image quality of 1080p high-definition television in 30 fps, 720p in 60 fps, H.264, as well as 360-degree endless pan, 36x and 20x optical zoom, Gatekeeper, auto-tracking, and continuous motion. Those cameras have two input and output ports that enable the camera to be interfaced with an external trigger device, such as a motion detector. The motion detector would prompt a camera to automatically pan and tilt in the direction of vibrations picked up by the sensor and start recording, Marcella said.
CANON U.S.A. INC.
Canon U.S.A. Inc.’s VBH 41 pan, tilt and zoom line of network video solutions include remote-control systems that are monitored and controlled using Internet protocols, according to Westfall. The VBH 41 series has tripwire detection that automatically alerts an operator if a subject passes over a boundary point specified in the image.
“So an operator doesn’t necessarily have to be personally watching the camera to see all these things going on,” said Westfall.
In addition, Canon’s dome cameras, such as the VBM600 or the VBH610 BE, have a remote adjustment function. Those cameras also have audio analytics capabilities, which is important for remote control, Westfall said. Either the absence of noise when there is supposed to be noise, or too much noise compared to the normal level of noise for a given area, can trigger an alert.
A feature users might not find attractive is that for many domed cameras—once they are installed—the user generally has to live with how they are aimed, Westfall said. But with remote control, the camera’s view can be adjusted using the PTZ feature. “That saves the expense of having to re-aim the camera.”
Hitachi’s HC-268 Hitachi offers its HC-268, a mini-panand- tilt surveillance system containing night-vision technology that shows images in full color, said Lawrence Ottaviano, the company’s national sales manager for the crucial imaging division. “Most nightvision technology is based on the ability to multiply photons, and the images are in green or black and white,” he said. “We’ve developed a unique night-vision technology that shows images in full color. It is 100 times more sensitive than the standard security CCTV camera.”
The HC-268 is a plug-and-play unit that comes out of the box ready to be deployed and does everything a standard pan-tilt camera does. It is a high-resolution color camera, and at night, when the camera senses there is no light, it automatically starts to multiply the photons that are available, he said. Using presets, a user can control when that would happen.
The camera is a ruggedized, marine-grade product that is submersible and will withstand the force of a hurricane, he said. It is good for locations such as airports that do not allow automation because the controller transmissions could interfere with aircraft.
Panasonic’s i-PRO Panasonic features its IP-based i-PRO surveillance cameras and recorders using Panasonic Toughpad tablets. The Mobile Security Control Room solution combines the rugged mobility of Toughpad tablets with Panasonic’s line of surveillance technology, providing a mobile platform for comprehensive monitoring of businesses, schools, hospitals and other facilities.
According to Panasonic, with the Toughpad FZ-G1, the WV-ASM200 i-PRO Management Software Solution offers all the capabilities of a fixed-location security command center in a rugged 2.43-pound tablet. Using the video management software users can control and view live feeds from up to 256 directly connected network cameras, and access recordings from up to 100 recorders directly from their Toughpad tablets.
Vinten Radamec’s CP4 Control System For users interested in control systems, there is Vinten Radamec’s CP4 Control System, an all-in-one robotic camera solution.
“The uniqueness of the CP4 is that it is a touchscreen; and it’s very intuitive,” said Karen Walker, the company’s commercial manager. “So plug your devices in and they are automatically recognized. Select the cameras you want to control and you’re ready to go,” she said. Users “can pan, tilt, zoom or preset shots with off-the-shelf kits.”
The CP4 touchscreen control-panel system has a desktop design that controls up to four heads and stores up to 40 preset shots, according to Walker. For larger environments, the upgrade solution enables users to control up to eight heads and 200 preset shots.
Microwave Technologies LLC’s SkymasterTX Of course, some facilities also need to transmit video to a master control center and that is where Integrated Microwave Technologies LLC’s SkymasterTX Digital COFDM Video Downlink Transmitter comes in.
The SkymasterTX is a helicoptermounted transmitter that is capable of transmitting high-definition video to a multitude of users, said John Payne, IMT’s chief technology officer and vice president of engineering. It can transmit video from cameras mounted in covert or overt positions.
“It’s getting the video back to multiple receivers wirelessly,” said Payne. “It enables multiple agencies to share video.”
Axis Communications Inc.:
Canon U.S.A. Inc.:
Integrated Microwave Technologies: