Local authorities and central government departments throughout the world have long recognised the key role that video surveillance systems can play in ensuring that the general public can safely go about their lives. Detecting and deterring criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, enforcing traffic regulations and managing crowds are just a few of the ways in which an integrated video surveillance system solution can assist security and safety personnel provide an effective response to any threat or unacceptable behaviour.
In the current economic climate it has to be acknowledged that government bodies are likely to have restrictions placed on their expenditure and yet the need for effective video surveillance systems is just as great, if not greater, than it has ever been. Fortunately, help is on hand in the form of a diverse range of security products which can provide cost effective solutions for virtually any project.
A comprehensive choice of cameras is available which includes models that are weather and vandal resistant and are able to perform effectively regardless of the environmental conditions. Many of the latest cameras offer multiple streaming, with a choice of MJPEG, MPEG-4 and bandwidth friendly H.265 compression methods, providing the option to simultaneously transmit images to multiple locations at various frame rates and at different resolutions. This allows different authorised users to monitor live images at one location, whilst recording video evidence at another. At the same time, images can be saved onto an on-board SD memory card and email notifications of any incidents sent to a smartphone.
Progressive Scan technology incorporated into a large number of cameras optimises high quality video capture of moving objects making it possible, for example, to read car number plates without a motion blur effect.
Advanced features delivering practical benefits to critical infrastructure projects
Digital Auto Tracking: 4K (12 megapixel) cameras capture extremely high definition images. Some models such as those from the Wisenet P range, also feature Digital Auto Tracking which, during times of low activity such as night time, can be used to detect moving objects or people. This makes it much easier for operators to keep a close eye on activity in public areas.
Analytics: Cameras with powerful open platform DSP chipsets developed by leading manufacturers such as Hanwha Techwin, mean a diverse range of edge-based specialist analytic applications can be run on the cameras. An audio analysis function can recognise critical sounds, such as gunshots, explosions, screams, and broken glass, and then immediately raise an alarm to enable emergency services to react quickly and effectively to any incident.
WDR: Most cameras feature WDR which composes 2 frames with different exposures to ensure clear, sharp images can be captured in locations where there may be strong contrasting lighting conditions. The latest 150dB WDR built into many Wisenet cameras uses 4 frames to create a more natural image and offers sharp images without any blurring, which is a critical weakness of standard WDR. It’s an exciting innovation for cameras which need perhaps to be deployed in areas where they may be exposed to varying degrees of sunlight.
360-degree cameras: A single 360-degree camera is quite often all that is required to efficiently and cost-effectively cover a whole area where a much larger number of standard cameras might normally be required. A 360 degree camera will complement a video solution perfectly by giving the operator a complete view of an area whilst high definition static or pan/ tilt cameras can be deployed to zoom in to see close up detail of any incident and to ensure there are no blind spots.
Complementary compression technology: The latest generation of Full HD and 4K cameras could become costly when there is a need to store the high resolution video for operational or evidence purposes. This is because multi-pixel, high definition images can all too quickly fill up the capacity of an NVR or server when recorded at full frame rate and resolution.
Recently available complementary compression technology dynamically controls encoding, balancing quality and compression according to movement in the image. When this is combined with H.265 compression, bandwidth efficiency can be improved by up to 99% compared to current H.264 technology ensuring the cameras are the most bandwidth friendly camera ranges available.
Video Management: Manufacturers such as Hanwha Techwin offer management software which maximises the efficiency and ease of use of their IP network cameras, recording devices and servers. Smart Security Manager (SSM) Enterprise from Hanwha Techwin also facilitates integration with third party systems such as intruder alarms, fire detection, access control and ANPR (vehicle number plate recognition), to offer a fully integrated security solution.
Full HD images over coax cable: There are many existing critical infrastructure installations where for a variety of reasons security or operations managers are not yet ready to migrate from analogue to an IP network based video surveillance solution. With this in mind, Hanwha Techwin has introduced its HD+ cameras and DVRs that deliver 1080p Full HD images over existing coax cable.
The cyber threat
The ability of hackers to access live images or retrieve recorded images captured by cameras located in private or security sensitive areas is obviously a major concern for critical infrastructure site security.
Manufacturers of video surveillance solutions such as Hanwha Techwin, have recognised that there are some simple actions which can be taken to minimise the hacking threat, including the obvious step of addressing the security credentials of a camera at its design stage, and not as a ‘nice’ added extra feature, as well as removing the potential to gain access through the ‘back door’ and the mandatory setting up of a secure comprehensive password during the initial installation process.
Whilst no manufacturer can offer 100% guarantees, Hanwha Techwin have a sustained testing and monitoring programme designed to identify evolving new threats to the integrity of its solutions and is able to move quickly to develop further advanced versions of its firmware to combat them.
Video surveillance has for many years provided a powerful tool for those responsible for protecting critical infrastructure. The increasing risk of a terrorist attack, as well as the increasingly sophisticated activities of organised criminal gangs, mean that more than ever, video surveillance technology solutions have a key role to play in helping security professionals to keep one step ahead of those determined to attack people, property and assets.