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Protected against harsh environments

Protected against harsh environments

Editor / Provider: William Pao, a&s International | Updated: 1/27/2015 | Article type: Tech Corner

When it's pouring outside, or the temperature hits -10 degrees, you want to make sure your surveillance equipment is still working properly. Nowadays, equipment for critical environments — those that are subject to water, dust, winds, sand, salt, or extreme climatic patterns — is built with durability in mind and can effectively withstand harsh conditions. This way, users can rest assured that their products will work normally no matter how tough the surroundings get.

Surveillance equipment isn't just for homes or offices. Sometimes, it is founded in some of the harshest and most unrelenting places in order to keep premises safe and secure. Whether it's set up on a maritime oil drilling platform or somewhere in the Middle East where summer temperatures may easily hit 50 degrees Celsius, equipment must be hardened and ruggedized to be able to perform smoothly and provide maximal safety for users.

International Standards
To help users understand whether certain products are suitable for certain conditions, several international standards have been formulated to indicate how effectively they can work in environments prone to water, dust, explosions, and impact. Some of these standards are listed below.

IP or ingress protection ratings specify how capable equipment can withstand the ingress, or entry, of foreign solids or water. An IP denotation is usually consisted of two numerals, with the first indicating the protection of equipment against solid foreign bodies and the second indicating protection against water. For critical environment equipment, it should be rated IP66 to IP68 as opposed to IP32 to IP54 for indoor settings. A similar rating system, published by National Electrical Manufacturer Association (NEMA), specifies protection of electronic equipment against external ice, corrosive materials, and oil immersion in addition to dust and water.

Hazardous Areas
Hazardous locations are specified under different rating systems around the world. For critical environment equipment, it should be able to work well in areas designated as Class 1 Division 2 Group A or B in North America, or as Gas Group IIC in Europe. Both indicate places where easily flammable gases and vapors, such as hydrogen and acetylene, are present.

The IK rating system is used to denote protection of equipment against impact produced by either a natural disaster or vandalism. It ranges from IK00, or no protection, to IK10, or protection against 20-joule impact, equivalent to the impact of a 5-kilogram mass dropped from 400 millimeters above impacted surface.

Winds are categorized by their speed on the so-called Beaufort Scale. Equipment in critical environments should resist winds of up 61.2 meters per second, or No. 17 on the scale.

This is in contrast to typical equipment that only needs to work well in 41.4 meters-per-second winds, or No. 13 on the scale. Meanwhile, given temperatures often get extremely high or low in critical environments, equipment must be able to withstand these conditions. While typical equipment should have a working temperature range from -10 to 60 degrees Celsius, critical environment products should be able to work in a range between -40 and 70 degrees Celsius. For special equipment in factories monitoring boilers or furnaces, it must be able to withstand high temperatures from 300 to 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Hardened and Ruggedized
When security equipment is installed in critical areas for whatever purpose it's designed for — video surveillance, access control, or intrusion detection — it must be toughened to weather adverse conditions. Special technologies or materials, for example epoxy resin, polyamide, and aluminum alloys, are used to make the products work well in regions or vertical markets that call for hardened, ruggedized equipment.

Video Surveillance
Cameras are needed not just in commercial or residential settings but also in places that are subject to danger or extreme weather conditions. “There's high customer demand for rugged, environmental performance,” said Craig Dahlman, Director of IP Camera Products at Pelco by Schneider Electric.

“Rugged, fortified systems are needed to protect delicate and valuable camera and optics packages.” To meet that demand, Pelco by Schneider Electric has manufactured a series of products that are able to withstand explosions, water and dust ingression, fog, high and low temperatures, winds of up to 57 meters per second, and corrosion by salt and different types of chemicals.

Various cutting-edge technologies have been adopted to make those features possible. For example, certain products feature the pressurized integrated optics cartridge (IOC) technology, which protects the equipment from moisture and airborne contaminants and packages an auto-focus camera, lens, heater, and sensors in a small, self-contained, and sealed unit. Dry nitrogen pressurized to 10 pounds per square inch gauge (PSIG) protects the environment inside the cartridge, whereby sensors strategically placed in the cartridge send an alert message if changes in pressure, temperature, or humidity are beyond factory-set acceptable limits.

Certain models also feature heater, window defroster, sun shroud, and thermal insulation blanket to enable operation in temperature conditions ranging from as low as -46 degrees Celsius to over 49. In the event of a power failure during an ice storm, the entire unit can deice itself and become operational in just two hours after regaining power at a temperature as low as -25 degrees Celsius.

“Video security and surveillance is a mission-critical application … and there is a global demand for these products, particularly in hot dry areas, cold wet areas, marine environments, and humid environments,” Dahlman said.

Illumination products supplement video cameras by providing the necessary lighting and are sometimes placed in critical environments as well. “Housed in marine grade aluminum with a toughened glass window … our critical environment products have a wide operating temperature range from -52 degrees Celsius to 55. Our thermal management system achieves up to 60 percent better heat dissipation than other LED luminaires with a significantly cooler operating temperature,” said Barry Thompson, Head of Hazardous Area Division at Raytec.

These features make Raytec lighting products ideal for a variety of verticals and regions. “We are currently delivering illumination in a vast number of challenging and remote applications across the globe, such as oil fields in Kuwait and Dubai, oil pipelines in North Africa, and offshore platforms in UK and various Middle East regions,” Thompson said.

Access Control
No stringent requirements are demanded of access control readers for commercial or residential applications. But when placed on the outside or in a critical environment, that's a different story.

“The reader has to withstand torrential rain in an outdoor installation,” said Tom Su, Sales Manager at Hundure Technology, which is set to release an IP66 reader. “Plus, it has to be durable enough to be able to work properly in the long term in a harsh environment and withstand human-made damage.”

Materials play an important part in toughening the products. Hundure, for example, uses as a main ingredient epoxy resin, which is an excellent electrical insulator and protects electrical components from short circuiting, dust, and moisture. “We have epoxy inside the reader to make it totally waterproof for outdoor installations,” Su said. Potting, or the filling of a complete electronic assembly with a solid or gelatinous compound for resistance to shock, vibration, moisture, and corrosive agents, is also used during the manufacturing process. “We use potting material for the majority of our readers, which seal them from any kind of water penetration,” said Steven Katanas, Director of Sales for Australia and New Zealand at HID Global. “Potting completely encases all electronics and stands up well to many harsh outdoor environments. An outer case might get beat up a bit, but the inner electronics are durable.”

The other critical element in an access control system, namely the cards, should not be overlooked, either. “Some cards use more durable materials than others. For instance, a line of our smart cards use an ABS shell construction for durability in harsh environments, and can be used in diverse applications including physical access control, PC logon, biometric authentication, time and attendance, cashless vending, public transportation, airline ticketing, and customer loyalty programs,” Katanas said.

Perimeter Intrusion Detection
Perimeter intrusion detection systems (PIDSs) are almost always placed on the outside of important premises such as airports, power plants, and certain government facilities. Sometimes equipment is deployed at places with highly intensive electromagnetic waves, and electromagnetic interference (EMI) may occur. PIDSs with EMI-resistant capabilities are therefore a plus. “One of our perimeter security taut-wire products was installed around a Radio Free Europe site, which transmits one megawatt power of short wave radio using curtain array antenna. These are extreme RF condition,” said Hagai Katz, Senior VP Marketing and DB at Magal Security Systems. “The most demanding conditions were for sections of the fence, which happen to reside right below the antennas' feeders, absorbing very high radio frequency radiation. In spite of all, the system has managed to perform perfectly.”

Heavy winds are also a threat to equipment or products placed on the outside, and manufacturers have different ways to overcome that. For example, Navtech Radar, which makes radar-based PIDSs, puts all the moving parts inside wind-resistant enclosures. “Normally if you have a rotating part exposed to the wind, then the wind pushes on that rotating part, moving it in a way you don't want it to move,” said Philip Avery, MD of Navtech Radar. “All our rotating parts are inside an enclosure. There is a plastic radome that protects the rotating parts from the wind and other elements.”

Any fixings — connectors, screws, and others — that hold the radar together should also be protected. Navtech Radar, for example, is considering putting plastic coating on the connectors to protect them from corrosion, which may occur at heavily corrosive environments like road tunnels.

“Different parts of the radar are bolted together using screws, and the last thing you want is to have those screws heavily corroded so the radar will fall apart,” Avery said. “You need to make sure that not only the main body of your system is made of the right material, but the fixings that hold it together are also made of the right material.”

Door Phones/Intercom/PA
Placed at the entries of residences, door phones should be able to adapt to various local climatic conditions. “Our products are used in high-temperature regions such as the Middle East and Africa, and also used in low-temperature areas like Russia or Scandinavian countries,” said Yoshi Nishiyama, who works for the international sales department of Aiphone. “Regarding the materials, we use environmental friendly materials complying with WEEE & RoHS. And the plastic materials we use are self-extinguishing materials against fire. All the metal materials for door phone units are designed against vandalism, and they have protection against water, sunlight, acids, and so on.”

For intercom and PA manufacturer Zenitel, it chooses polyamide as the material for making its industrial-grade PA call panels and intercom stations.

“Initially, our PA system was designed for the oil and gas industry and marine vessels. Polyamide is resistant to corrosion, so it's suitable for marine environments. Also that material is quite strong so it can withstand impact,” said Piet De Vriendt, Commercial Product Manager for Vingtor-Stentofon at Zenitel. “Fewer and fewer companies are making intercom stations out of metal for industrial applications, as new technologies have improved for polyamide, which is also better for corrosion and chemical resistance.”

Thing to Look for During Installation
For critical environment installations, a rule of thumb is to get products that are rated for conditions worse than where the equipment is being installed. “At the very least, users should make sure they are not installing equipment that is rated for a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment into an area where there will be considerable heat and moisture fluctuation,” HID's Katanas said.

Integrators should also help clients build an infrastructure that presumes and prepares for changes in the future, including ensuring durable performance in harsh environments. “This requires a platform that is dynamic, open, and adaptable, and that ensures security is independent of hardware and media so that organizations can evolve their infrastructure to meet tomorrow's needs,” he said.

With security products becoming increasingly network-centric, how to protect the network infrastructure in critical areas is also important. Some countries or regions even have rules about how IP-based equipment should be installed.

“The Middle East has requirements for transmission equipment that can tolerate very high temperatures. In India we have the same requirements, and in both markets high winds, dust, and sand are an issue, which the transmission equipment must also be able to withstand,” said Sara Bullock, Business Development Director at AMG Systems, adding her company has devoted much R&D efforts on heat reduction.“Our products carry many interfaces within the same box, which dramatically reduces the equipment required at the remote position, which in turn reduces heat within the cabinets,” she said. “A critical factor is airflow. Our products have ventilation slots on the casing, and as long as they are mounted in the correct way, they allow airflow to be forced up through the units.”

Zenitel's De Vriendt stressed the importance of collaborating with someone who is strong at IP setup in harsh conditions. “The most important advice we can give to integrators and installers is to have good cooperation with the consultants who specify the system and to work with companies that have experience with setting up IP networks in these environments,” he said.

Built With Durability
Today's surveillance equipment is built with durability in mind, able to resist various harsh environments to satisfy users' needs. With an understanding in these products, and knowledge on how they should be set up properly, users can have full assurance that their surveillance systems will run smoothly in the midst of inclement conditions.

AMG delivers toll management transmission solution on Indian highway

AMG delivers toll management transmission solution on Indian highway

Editor / Provider: AMG | Updated: 9/17/2014 | Article type: Security 50

AMG, the British manufacturer of CCTV transmission solutions and sophisticated 5 Megapixel cameras, has completed a new sophisticated toll management transmission solution on Solapur Highway, for ITNL in India. ITNL is using the solution to monitor two Toll Plazas with a total of 20 Lanes with 24 Booths – 4 of which have reversible lanes. The project covers a road stretch of 105 kilometres, with 49 kilometres between the Toll Plazas.

According to ITNL, the new system encompasses 132 cameras of which 126 are fixed cameras and 6 are PTZs. Other hardware integrated into the solution includes Lane Controllers, AVC Controllers, and RFID Readers. The system is operated on an Ethernet backbone, with 35 unmanaged AMG switches, and incorporates vehicle detection and enforcement solutions along with access control equipment.

A Toll Plaza typically lies in an environment where adverse conditions are present. This was a decisive factor in ITNL's decision to select the AMG Ethernet switches for the new system. The ruggedness and small form factor, as well as the capability to perform well in adverse climate conditions with extreme heat and dust means that the AMG switches provides significant advantage over other alternatives.

According to ITNL, another advantage is that the AMG transmission solution can interface with equipment from any given third party manufacturer. This facilitates the integration of surveillance and monitoring equipment with the Toll Management Solution. ITNL also commented on the support given by AMG during pre-sales, post-sales and subsequent technical support, deeming the service as ‘excellent'.

Sara Bullock, International Sales Director at AMG Systems, says, “AMG has supplied a large number of transmission solutions for well over 1, 000 km of highways traffic management solutions in India. We're extremely pleased that ITNL decided to use our switches for this new project on the Pune - Solapur Highway.”

Maldives airport upgrades to Ethernet and panoramic tech

Maldives airport upgrades to Ethernet and panoramic tech

Editor / Provider: Amg Systems | Updated: 6/20/2013 | Article type: Infrastructure

The Gan International Airport in Maldives has recently deployed an IP-based video surveillance system consisting of Amg Systems panoramic 360 degree cameras on an Ethernet transmission platform and Wavestore VMS to monitor its executive terminal lounge areas. The Gan International Airport is owned and managed by Addu International Airport.

“Amg has worked with Gan International Airport for more than eight years,” said Leona Hayes, Business Development Manager for Overseas Markets at Amg Group. Being early adopters of analog video surveillance technology, authorities decided to move into IP some time ago to implement an Amg Ethernet technology backbone transmission structure. The camera's electronic-PTZ allows each user to control the camera without interfering with other users, and can be positioned for simultaneous view from eight different locations using multiple-dewarped streams generated from the camera. De-Warping is provided within the camera, which reduces the load on the NVR system. Amg's dewarping SDK provides electronic PTZ during user playback on the VMS. The PTZ streams can be pre-positioned to point to four different directions, such as north, east, south or west or controlled like multiple PTZ domes. Another feature is the cameras have no moving parts, which reduces maintenance costs from wear and tear.

“We have recently adopted a proactive approach to more intelligent surveillance solutions,” said Abdul Mujahid, Senior Technician also acting as Head of Technical Services at Addu International Airport. “ At Gan Airport, we wanted a cutting edge solution, and PanoCam360 delivers all the features and functionality we need. We're currently integrating the cameras with a Wavestore recording solution.” 

Synectics management software integrates AMG fisheye cam

Synectics management software integrates AMG fisheye cam

Editor / Provider: AMG Systems | Updated: 5/30/2013 | Article type: Security 50

AMG-Panogenics, the British manufacturer of sophisticated Megapixel cameras, has entered a technology partnership with Synectics, and their PanoCam360 fisheye camera is now fully integrated into the Synergy security management system.

Jonathan Squires, Technology Applications Manager of Synectics says, “The PanoCam360 can be recorded by Synectics' recording management system and the image / stream can be viewed in Synectics' security management software, Synergy, in its native, 360 format. The image can also be de-warped, and using Synergy, users can apply a digital zoom on the image.”

David Myers, CTO of AMG-Panogenics comments, “PanoCam360 streams 12.5 frames per second and the on-board de-warping reduces the processing requirement back in the control room. Offering up to 14 de-warped video streams/independent camera views simultaneously alongside the full-resolution fish-eye view makes PanoCam360 the most powerful and versatile 360 degree camera range available. The camera is completely developed and manufactured in the UK and works on an open software platform, which makes it very easy to integrate.”

Synergy is Synectics' security management solution for multi-vendor environments. One of the main features of Synergy is that it dramatically simplifies the human interface, furnishing operators with a simple, fast and intuitive route to all common system functions. It further features a range of module additions designed with specific application sectors in mind. Synergy therefore addresses the requirement of system operators and managers to provide a practical control and administration solution that can deliver the flexibility of operation - as demanded by today's increasingly complex systems.

Dublin's cycling route considered part of the city's traffic management

Dublin's cycling route considered part of the city's traffic management

Editor / Provider: AMG Systems | Updated: 5/29/2013 | Article type: Infrastructure

The Dublin City Council (DCC) has deployed a multi-fiber optic transmission system from AMG Systems for video surveillance and traffic signal communications on its new cycling route, the Canal Way Cycle Route. The transmission system drop and insert units have been deployed and integrated into the council's traffic management solution. In addition, 15 new cameras have been added along the cycling route connecting Portobello with the Docklands that opened on March 22, 2012. The route is fully integrated into the comprehensive traffic management solution the council is running within Dublin City and surrounding motorways, all monitored from a central control room.

The route is segregated so cyclists do not have to share the same route as pedestrians or motorists, with the exception from Grand Canal Quay and Forbes Streets, which have a very low volume of cars, said Brendan O'Brien, Head of Technical Services (Traffic) at DCC. However, traffic signals can be complicated at junctions, where pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists interact. Special cyclist signals have been introduced at certain junctions. “As well as a main traffic signal (for motor vehicles) we have separate traffic signals for both cyclists and pedestrians,” said O'Brien. “Since we have opened the cycling route the number of cyclists has grown 70 percent and so far we have no accident data since opening, i.e. we have no report of any accidents.”

“AMG have worked very closely with DCC since 2007, where we won the tender for supplying our fiber optic transmission system for traffic management and control of Dublin City and surrounding motorways,” said Sara Bullock, International Sales and Marketing Director of AMG Group. “Since then, new elements of traffic complexity have been added to the solution, such as the Luas tramways and the Samuel Becket moving bridge, which has a comprehensive traffic signal and control solution integrated into the existing solution.”

The city council' comprehensive Traffic Management Solution is going to be on show when traffic planners and ITS specialists from all over Europe meet at the 9th ITS European Conference which takes place in Dublin June 4-7 this year.

Beware of fishy details

Beware of fishy details

Editor / Provider: Tevin Wang, a&s International | Updated: 5/17/2013 | Article type: Tech Corner

Fisheye cameras provide views from all angles, but must be set up properly to be effective. This feature takes a closer look at practical expectations and tips.

Fisheye cameras are all about seeing everything in a scene more efficiently and effectively than with multiple cameras. They are also more economical as they reduce licensing costs by requiring only one license instead of multiple camera licenses to cover the same area. By expanding horizontally, fisheye cameras allow security managers to cover an entire scene in a logical way without gaps or missing areas of coverage. Other benefits include:
● A huge field-of-view, hence total coverage with no blind spots
● Unbroken surveillance on a single camera; no camera switching required
● Massively reduced camera counts when covering large areas
● PTZ or ePTZ around the scene during playback

However, fisheye cameras are not a cure-all for replacing fixed or PTZ cameras in every scenario, as the loss of detail plus pixel density drops are still their Achilles' heel. “Depending on camera mounting height and distance from the subject, what the user may not get from the 360 camera could be facial-recognition shots or car license plates,” said David Myers, CTO at AMG Systems. “In these cases, the use of an additional fixed camera may be required, usually at an entrance or exit.”

As fisheye cameras change the perspectives of security personnel who actually “see” the video, installers should pay closer attention when deploying them. First, installers must be conscious of where the camera is being mounted on and of the type of material of the wall or ceiling. As certain fisheye cameras are designed to blend into the decor and need to be mounted on harder ceiling material like drywall or sheetrock, plenum space where air circulation is used might not be a good option. “Aesthetics plays an important role in many installations, especially when mounted at eye level or just above eye level in a wall,” said Greg Alcorn, Global Sales Director for Oncam Grandeye.

Since a fisheye camera covers a wide area in all directions, “ceiling or mounting height is important, and cameras should be positioned strategically to provide the best coverage of the area,” Myers said. Additionally, how the camera is going to be powered (with PoE) and how it would connect to the management network should be given some thought.

Claire Huang, Product Marketing Specialist at Dynacolor, agreed. “Due to resolution drops around the edges, users should make areas of interest the center of the image. Thus, the height and location should be carefully considered.”

Another consideration is light variations in a given scene. “Very bright lights often blow out a scene or create lots of shadows, and many 360-degree cameras cannot pick up information because the image is either too dark or too bright,” Alcorn said. The brightest and darkest areas will be a challenge for the camera to resolve. “Installers should consider the entire scene when placing a camera — how much light will be visible and what in your scene is important to see for total situational awareness.”

When installed under a bright environment with lamps of low frequencies, there might be flickering as well, Huang added.

Security professionals should understand that fisheye cameras are designed to add value, rather than perform as a Swiss-army-knife solution for surveillance. Fixed or PTZ cameras might still be required to ensure fisheye cameras provide a complete overview of the scene and a conclusive evidence trail for devising proper business or security measures.

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Do more with less

Do more with less

Editor / Provider: By Tevin Wang, a&s International | Updated: 5/14/2013 | Article type: Tech Corner

Fisheye cameras have been around for years, but real-life adoption seems to be limited, due to a limited number of offerings and VMS integrations. Things are changing for the better, as more camera manufacturers and management software providers pay more attention to the optics and user benefits. a&s looks into the latest developments.

Panoramic and hemispheric lenses have been used by photographers for decades. Nowadays, one can literally shoot images with panoramic or fisheye effects with smartphones. Still, what is common in the consumer electronics industry may be exotic in security.

The panoramic camera offers both the 180-degree and 360-degree panoramic view using a single fisheye lens or several normal lenses. “For a panoramic camera using several lenses, the panoramic image is produced by stitching the images shot by each of the lenses,” said Osborne Fang, Marketing Manager at Brickcom. “On the other hand, the fisheye camera provides the panoramic image with a single lens. Due to the extremely wide viewing angle of the fisheye lens, the image is distorted and dewarping technology is needed to turn the image into a normal one, readable to the human eye. Hence, dewarping is one of the keys to the final image quality of the fisheye camera.”

Petra Bennermark, Product Manager at Axis Communications, added, “A panoramic camera refers to either a camera that is mounted on a wall and gives a 180-degree view from the wall or a ceiling-mounted camera that gives a 360-degree view of the area below the ceiling. A camera with a 180-degree fisheye lens constitutes one technical solution to such a camera. So I would say that a fisheye camera is a subset of panoramic cameras.”

One way to envision a 180-degree view is to imagine standing in the center of an alley with your back against a wall. “Cameras mounted where your head is would be able to see the whole alley including both ends and the wall that your head is against,” said Ellen Cargill, Director of Product Development for Scallop Imaging (a division of Tenebraex).

Pluses & Trade-Offs
It is important that user s understand what they get and what they do not get from fisheye cameras. Fixed cameras, however mounted, cover narrow fields of view and multiple cameras are required to give adequate coverage of wide areas. PTZ cameras, on the other hand, require manual control and are therefore most often pointing to the wrong place at the wrong time. “A fisheye camera mounted on a wall or on the ceiling in the center of a room or area can cover a vast area with no blind spots, no moving parts, and no manual control required,” said David Myers, CTO at AMG Systems. “While not totally replacing fixed and PTZ cameras, fisheye cameras provide total coverage and reduce both the number of cameras required and the infrastructure required. The ability to follow a subject on a single camera is also of great benefit in forensic analysis”

Some trade-offs still exist for fisheye cameras. As a fisheye camera uses a specialized lens that distorts the image of a scene to fit it into a single view, circular fisheye images do not use all the pixels on an image sensor. Also, image magnification diminishes as the subject moves toward the edges of the scene despite that megapixel image sensors and digital image processing have improved fisheye performance on the edges of the field of view.

Distortion & Pixel Check
Fisheye lenses project a circular footprint and have constant or linear distortion from the center to the edge. Objects closer to the camera appear bigger, while they reduce rapidly in size as the distance from the camera increases. In other words, users could have an unavoidable drop-off in image quality at the edges. These issues might be “magnified” after dewarping. It is similar to the difference between a globe and a map of the world when attempting to provide a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional world. Both poles are squished, like oversized representations of Antarctica and Greenland on some maps. The same goes for a fisheye lens: the farther an object is from the center of an image, the more distorted it becomes.

Image distortions and pixel drops of fisheye cameras are hard to read from technical specs. The best way is to actually test the cameras and check the details. “When comparing, make sure that you compare ‘apples to apples' — that is, the same part of the scene, the same field of view, same distance and direction angle from the camera,” Bennermark said.

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to representing the true resolution of fisheye cameras as they, compared to fixed cameras, have a smaller optical image sensor. Greg Alcorn, Director of Global Sales at Oncam Grandeye shared some simple mathematics that can help end users and integrators check exactly what resolution they are getting. “Most manufactures use a 5-megapixel sensor, or 2592 by 1944 pixels, and the image is then cropped to the size of the lens, or a circle within a rectangle. The circle, therefore, has a diameter of 1944 pixels and the following equation is used to calculate the true resolution. The actual resolution equals the area of the circle. [In this case, the actual resolution is 972x972, which is 2.9 megapixels.]"

Human eyes are not used to optical distortion and dewarping is created for this purpose. Dewarping can be done on fisheye cameras or on the client application. “The achievable optical resolution of the lens and the achievable resolution of the image sensor play an important role on the image quality of the dewarped image,” Fang said. “For example, a high-optical resolution fisheye lens with the 5-megapixel image sensor can provide more detail than the same lens with the 1-megapixel image sensor. Meanwhile, the computation power of the processor determines the time it takes for the dewarping function to process the raw optical image.”

In-camera dewarping offers direct dewarped views based on user's need. User can choose the number of dewarped views of the scene and the camera will do the rest. “Dewarping on the camera lets the customer create virtual views or narrow-field windows that create blind spots similar to conventional cameras. The windows may be moved using PTZ commands over the network, and will then have latency similar to what is currently associated with mechanical PTZ cameras,” Alcorn said. “[However], dewarping on the camera does not allow the ability to retrospectively view the 360 image, which is one of the biggest advantages of using 360-degree cameras.”

Dewarping on the client side, on the other hand, allows for retrospective viewing, which enables the user to go back in time to view the total scene in its original form and then pan, tilt, and/or zoom within the 360-degree image as desired. “An additional advantage to dewarp on the client side is the ability for multiple clients to view the same image with different perspectives concurrently. There is no time slicing required as with traditional PTZ cameras or 360 cameras with dewarping onboard the camera,” Alcorn added.

However, Alf Chang, Senior Consultant at a&s held a different opinion. ”In-camera dewarping may also allow multiple clients to view the same image with different perspectives. This relates more to NVRs than where the dewarping occurs. Indeed, the mode or numbers of dewarped views can only be set by one user at the front end. These dewarped views and footage are stored at the NVR. Via NVR, it is still feasible for multiple clients to view the same image with different perspectives. ”

Dewarping in the camera or on the client side have their pros and cons. When cameras are capable of dewarping themselves, installers or integrators have fewer concerns regarding the loading on the client side because the camera is doing the processing. Dewarping on the client side, on the other hand, offers comparatively more flexible and retrospective viewing. There are many dewarping methods. “Some well-known dewarping methods include stereographic projection, equidistant projection, and cylindrical projection. Each method has its own advantages, and the implementation details of the dewarping methods have to adapt to the optical characteristics of the fisheye lens used,” Fang said. “The key is the popularity and compatibility with the VMS.”

VMS Interoperability
Most fisheye manufacturers require a separate SDK for dewarping and e-PTZ controls. This makes integration to V MS systems challenging. In order to enhance the algorithm to the fullest of fisheye cameras, a VMS with full support is crucial. Limited VMS integration will block immersive fisheye cameras from being used effectively. VMS which support multiple manufacturers or even an established standard are key for broader adoption of fisheye cameras.

Oncam Grandeye is optimistic about the potential of fisheye cameras and increased integration with VMS platforms. “Technology moves forward and image quality gets better. VMS, like everything else, is advancing. We have developed an SDK for multiple platforms that can be integrated into any clientside application. It comes with our patented dewarping technology using OpenGL and 3D modeling techniques to project a texture map of the image onto p-surface (a 3D object, generated by a computer graphic system). This takes advantage of current state-of-theart GPUs (graphic processor units), which reduces the load on the CPU. Performing dewarping on the CPU could use as much as 20 percent of the CPU's performance, based on the size of the image and frame rate,” Alcorn said.

Myers agreed. “We provide the software to our VMS partners which allows fast dewarping of the high resolution fisheye live and recorded through their viewing software.”

Brickcom is also eager to increase its technology partners. “Our fisheye camera is compatible now with more than 40 VMS solutions thanks to the open ImmerVision 360-degree viewing standard,” Fang added.

If cameras are capable of dewarping, VMS interoperability is not a concern. “As Axis does dewarping in the camera, VMS is subscribed to the already dewarped images. These dewarped images can be dynamically controlled to make it a digital PTZ camera. There is no need for VMS applications to deal with dewarping,” according to Bennermark.

Future Development
Some manufacturers are launching day-night fisheye cameras for 24-hour coverage. Also, they can be deployed outdoors. The goal is to allow fisheye cameras not to be limited to indoor installations but to wider outdoor areas.

For the past few years, the greatest advances in IP-based video surveillance have been in compression and megapixel technology. These technologies bring panoramic and hemispheric cameras up to a new level, and they can be used in more applications than before, said Steve Ma, Executive VP of VIVOTEK. “With today's sensor and lens technologies, manufacturers are able to provide high quality 360-degree cameras. We will bundle fisheye cameras and speed dome cameras as a solution for great perspectives and details, which allows users to simultaneously monitor both an overview and a detailed regional view of any given scene.”

State of HD-SDI in 2013

State of HD-SDI in 2013

Editor / Provider: a&s International | Updated: 4/11/2013 | Article type: Tech Corner

Real-life HD-SDI deployments have been scarce, due to practical issues such as component options, truly full HD performance (1,080p at 25 to 30 fps per channel) and pricing acceptability; the relatively high costs of 8- and 16-channel packages have limited uptake by the traditional channels. Things are changing for the better in 2013, however, and this feature looks into what the future holds for this common broadcast technology in security.

HD is an unstoppable trend, thanks to advances in consumer electronics. Security surveillance has been bitten by the same bug; once you go for sharper images, you never go back. Previously, the only way to get better-than-analog surveillance footage was through megapixel cameras and NVRs. Not any more. According to IMS Research, HD over coax products (SDI, SLOC, 960H) are forecast to capture around 5 percent of the video surveillance market revenues by 2016; with the overall worldwide projection at US$20.5 billion, that means a slightly over $1-billion business.

Price has been a chief stumbling block. Choices in deliverable HD-SDI DVRs were limited and at a premium, until late 2012. “The average price for 4-channel HD-SDI DVRs has dropped about 30 percent,” said Danny Tang, VP of Sales and Marketing at Shany Electronic. “As more manufacturers and chip developers, more models are coming out. We are looking forward to the increased competitiveness this year.”

Tony Lin, Manager of EverFocus Electronics, agreed. “We foresee SDI prices coming down to a level on par with high-end traditional analog devices, with a better chance to win over customers looking to upgrade. We believe the improved product availability will hit squarely in the middle of the traditional analog market. This will include any market that hasn't already turned to IP.”

Applications That Could Benefit
Most of the approached industry contacts found it hard to see large-scale HD-SDI deployments, but some saw unique potential. “Our SDI solution is ideal for recording legal proceedings and can be used across multiple courtrooms simultaneously,” said Vanne Lin, Executive VP at iCatch. “Advantages include ease of use, no lag time or frame-rate interruptions, free from bandwidth limitations, stability and reliability, and high image quality.”

Keeping existing analog cabling infrastructure intact is another advantage. “For example, there are quite a few historic sites in Europe, and changing all the wiring to Ethernet might be out of the question,” Tang said. “We already have some European customers asking for HD-SDI solutions. Japan also shows great potential, due to a large analog installed base. To offer customized solutions and meet local needs, we designed features to include power over coaxial and remote control.”

More cost-effective HD-SDI bundles could spark increased deployment in retail. “In the U.S., chips and PIN codes on credit cards never caught on, and they still prefer to sign slips or checks,” said Alan Hayes, founder and MD of AMG Systems. “This slows down payment processing. Currently, there are considerations in terms of introducing ‘touch panel payment solutions' that the customer simply touches their credit card to a pad. [In this case], there may be a requirement for HD for proof of identity solutions.” Dahua Technology targets market segments that require HD but have huge existing coaxial infrastructure, such as banking, gaming and traffic monitoring. “Korea and Japan are leading SDI deployment in the APAC region,” said Xuping Zhong, Product Engineer at Dahua Technology. “Growth in other countries is moderate in verticals such as banking, casinos and city surveillance.”

Gas stations may also benefit from HD-SDI. “Gas stations mostly install only limited or basic surveillance,” said Lin of EverFocus. “We have noted, however, the need for increasing resolution in this sector, especially in self-service areas. Due the fact that gas stations are potentially dangerous environments, we believe that SDI is the perfect solution because it can provide resolution increases over existing coaxial cable.”

Advances in Components
HD-SDI reference designs are now available from Altera, Ambarella, Hisilicon Technologies, Texas Instruments and Xilinx, possibly making overall solutions more price-competitive. Increasing availability of ISPs also means that integrators and installers may need to pay more attention to different combinations and developments of sensors, FPGAs and reference designs, said Alf Chang, Senior Technical Consultant at a&s.

Design and Installation Considerations
The situation for video system designers has improved markedly over the last year with the widespread availability of HDcctv equipment, which makes any installer experienced with regular CCTV equipment already prepared to make the move to HD surveillance, said Todd Rockoff, Executive Director at HDcctv Alliance. “Despite this simplicity, newcomers to HDcctv should be aware of some technical points in interoperability, cable length, storage and integration. The next-generation HDcctv standard is on track for ratification mid-2013, bringing new capabilities and benefits for integrators and installers. The chips soon to be introduced that implement next-generation capabilities of the HDcctv standard promise to further accelerate the migration of security to HD surveillance video.”

HD-SDI Enabled
Some manufacturers are thinking ahead to offer easy migration or hybrid solutions for installers and end users. For instance, Hi Sharp offers HD-SDI and analog hybrid DVRs so that users can choose the most suitable cameras for different locations.

Shany provides DVRs with 2 channels of SDI and 8 channels of analog, along with embedded management software, to target the SMB market. Tribrid solutions, with IP, are available as well. “We will continue our efforts in easy-to-use remote configuration design and increased transmission distance to cope with the needs of installers,” Tang said. “SDI for nonsecurity applications and SDI speed domes are our R&D focus as well.”

Webgate (a Daemyung Enterprise company) will focus on integration of HD-SDI DVRs and ONVIF compliance to accommodate diverse user needs. “Since our HD-SDI DVR has network connectivity, video from our HD-SDI cameras can be acquired through a DVR or IP encoder,” said Chris Kim, Marketing Manager. “Hybrid products for analog and HD-SDI will lose their merits soon. We are preparing a long-term plan for hybrid products with IP and HD-SDI.”

iCatch concentrates on management software and mobile applications. “We are one of the first to develop 16-channel HD-SDI DVRs with real-time record/playback function in Asia,” Lin at iCatch said. “Users can fully enjoy the bundled CMS feature. In addition, the DVR also supports Windows/Mac OS and app (iOS/Android) platforms, so users are able to keep an eye on what they care about most, regardless of where they are. Users might not care or know whether their surveillance solutions are IP-based or HD-SDI, but they will care whether the surveillance system can be viewed and managed remotely.”

UK retail complex upgrades decade-long security link

UK retail complex upgrades decade-long security link

Editor / Provider: AMG Systems | Updated: 3/5/2013 | Article type: Commercial Markets

The Oracle, a UK shopping center located in Reading, recently refurbished and upgraded its 13-year-old fiber transmission from AMG Systems. According to Adam Parsonson-Smith, Technical Director of Zada (a local installer), the original AMG transmission solution had passed “the longevity test,” and an upgrade would be in order. The mall's video surveillance system currently consists of 188 cameras, with three core optical-fiber rooms (river side car park, north sat room and south sat room) and a central control room. Zada installed a newly designed backbone that enables future installments of HD network cameras at the shopping center's entrances.

The upgrade project was completed in just two days, due to Zada and AMG working closely together and deciding how the upgrade could best be facilitated. AMG was particularly supportive in assisting Zada in finding the best solution, and provided quotations, supplies and answers to technical queries which minimized downtime during the upgrade, Parsonson-Smith remarked. “In fact, we're so happy with AMG's products that we habitually offer our clients five-year business plans, with a maintenance contract which also covers the AMG transmission equipment — as is the case with The Oracle.”

“I was part of the AMG team involved with the original implementation of CCTV at The Oracle in 1999,” said Alan Hayes, founder and MD of AMG Group. “The fact that Zada asked us to supply the equipment for the refurbishment has given us the opportunity to upgrade the solution to the latest AMG technology, and further futureproof what was a great solution in the first place.”

VCA revisited

VCA revisited

Editor / Provider: Wavestore | Updated: 1/16/2013 | Article type: Hot Topics

So, the ObjectVideo “patent agreement seeking” rampage seems to have come to an end for now, with Panasonic System Networks being the latest to be added to the global, portfolio-wide patent license wish list (others include Tyco Security Products, Sony, Vivotek, Pelco by Schneider and Bosch Security Systems, for anyone who is keeping score). More solution providers are revisiting the technology side of things this year, with more concrete deployment scenarios and ROI agreement, such as this one from Axis Communications, a similar one from AMG Systems, and the one below from Wavestore.

Recent advances have helped overcome many of the problems previously associated with VCA tools, and 2013 will therefore see more powerful and tangible performance in real-life action, predicted Phil Ewers, Business Development Manager at Wavestore. His extensive experience includes playing a key role in a successful bid to deliver and supply Westfield London Shopping Centre with Europe's largest people-counting solution. Ewers is confident that VCA will be requested more in the list of features when video management systems are being designed.

First, there are a number of manufacturers who have increased the processing power of the DSP chipsets incorporated into their video surveillance cameras, highlighted Ewers. “These cameras, therefore, have the potential to be able to perform all their standard functions, while at the same time being able to efficiently handle analytics software.” Second, a tough economic environment is inevitably encouraging end users to demand a higher ROI in a video system solution. Last but not least is the fact that forward thinking video solution providers, such as Wavestore, have incorporated into their VMS the facility for leading technologies, such as video analytics in all its various forms, to work in harmony and interact with each other using a metadata engine. “This enables to offer customers an effective single-source solution.”

VCA is proving to be extremely valuable to the retail sector, but there are many opportunities in environments such as sports stadiums, airports, train stations and so on — any area where there is people movement.

People-counting capability deserves to be near or at the top of the list, as it can provide highly valuable data to allow a business to become more efficient, increase sales or just simply make their premises a safe place to visit or work in, Ewers said. “A hot spot identified by the use of analytics could perhaps generate an alert that there is an escalating risk of people being crushed.”

ALPR has obvious benefits to those involved in traffic management and parking enforcement, as well as verifying that a driver/vehicle is authorized to enter a restricted area. Biometrics in the form of facial recognition deserves a mention as well, as it can be a very powerful tool to identify specific individuals. “When analyzing what may have been thousands of hours of prerecorded video, facial recognition offers the possibility of matching against what could be a large database of undesirable visitors,” Ewers shared. New developments are seeing facial recognition providing invaluable statistics for retailers as to who is checking out a particular product stand, visiting a store or a defined area within a store or shopping complex.

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