Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Homes need security software

If there is one problem which is bothering many residents in Chennai city and suburbs it is the grille offences reported almost every day in locked homes.
While the custodians of law are squarely blaming the victims for being "careless", the public, on the other hand, are annoyed over the callous attitude of the police.
At a time, when flat promoters are vying with each other in marketing their newly-built homes as the best in the market to potential buyers in the metropolis, they are now facing yet another uphill task: How to overcome the menace of grille offenders.
Civil engineers and architects told that even before a prospective buyer poses few basic questions such as, do you provide security to the apartments and do you offer any alarm system, which would automatically alert the nearest police station in the event of a crime or other problems, the answer is a straight yes.
Even before such modern day crimes used to be reported, no apartment permitted outsiders to park their vehicles inside the premises.
When such is the scene, it is strongly suspected that without the insider passing on information about the whereabouts of inmates, burglars cannot barge into a specific house and escape with the booty. Well, this is for the police to investigate.
The architects' view point is that new homes should have modern electronic gadgets fitted, with inbuilt software, instantly alerting about any crime or incident that occurs in the home in the absence of the inmates. Instead of relying only on the security personnel, it would be wiser to have gadgets, which inform about any trespasser, a police officer says.
Companies which deals with developing security systems based on embedded technology, offers readymade products such as micro home security system with wireless technology and numerous sensors to protect the users' premises.
Any fire or gas leak in the home, the user is intimated through an SMS, an executive of the company says. Small or big, every home is beautiful to its owner and hence it has become essential to invest on security aspects also along with the cost of the property.

Major Fire at Saravana Stores T-Nagar,Chennai

A major fire which broke out in a commercial complex in T Nagar early on Monday morning(Sep 1), raged for more than nine hours, exposing the complete lack of compliance with safety norms and civic guidelines by the building’s owners. Saravana Stores, a multi-storeyed shopping complex, and an adjacent building which housed more than 80 shops on Ranganathan street were gutted in the blaze. Police sources said no one was injured, though two people are missing. The loss of property is estimated at Rs 1.5 crore. At least 15 employees who were staying on the fifth floor of Saravana Stores were rescued. Fire and rescue officials are yet to reveal the cause of the fire. Experts said the accident was waiting to happen as T Nagar has many buildings that flout fire safety norms and development rules. Most of them exceed the floor space index and do not have the mandatory seven-metre space around the building to allow for movement of service and rescue vehicles. Many shops do not upgrade their transformers and wiring to handle the load of extra electrical fittings, which could lead to short circuits. A maze of narrow streets and huge crowds add to the problem. Police and fire service personnel say it could have been a major tragedy if the fire had broken out during working hours. Inspector R Srikanth attached to the West Mambalam police station reached the spot at 6.05 am. “I noticed the blaze on the third floor of Lucky Plaza. The security guard in Saravana Stores said employees stayed on the fifth floor. The power was out. We went in to rescue the sleeping employees. Twelve employees were brought down,” he said. Fire and rescue service personnel said they received a call at 6.10 am on Monday from passers-by who noticed thick black fumes coming from the third floor of the five-storey Lucky Plaza complex located adjacent to Saravana stores. Fire personnel rescued two other employees of Saravana Stores, who were stuck on the third floor. Another employee was rescued after breaking in through the terrace. Police commissioner R Sekar said, “At least 300 police personnel have been deployed to assist the fire and rescue personnel. The police and fire service personnel rescued at least 15 people. No one was injured in the incident.”

How to Migrate from Analog to IP Cameras

Migrating from analog to IP can be tricky, mainly because most everyone has existing infrastructure in place. You rarely can simply throw out that infrastructure and start anew - the economics usually do not support it. Because of that, you need to figure out what to keep, what to replace and what to modify.
The issues involved are too complex to provide a simple boilerplate yes or no. This report examines the most critical elements in making the transition from analog cameras to IP cameras so that you can better appreciate the issues involved for your circumstances. Nonetheless, you will have to spend significant time learning and evaluating as the issues involved are significant.
Here is a summary of those key elements:
Determine if your DVR supports IP cameras
Determine what IP camera manufacturers your DVR support
If needed, assess options for NVRs or IP Video Management Software
Determine if IP cameras can eliminate long distance analog cabling
Determine if higher resolution cameras can help you
Assess the increased bandwidth impact on your networks
Determine if you can afford increased storage for megapixel cameras
DVR Supports IP Cameras
First check whether your DVR supports IP cameras. Most DVRs that cost more than $3,000 USD usually supports some form of IP cameras today. However, most of the more 'budget' type DVRs do not.
You should determine this first because it is the key element in determining how complex adding in IP cameras will be. If your DVR does not support IP cameras, you have a few options, none of which I think are very attractive: (1) you could monitor the IP cameras directly with no recorder, (2) you could set up a separate NVR to record the IP cameras or (3) you could decode the IP camera's video stream to record them on your existing DVRs. Most professional security organizations want a single video management system to record and access all cameras which means that you either work with what you have or replace it.
What IP Cameras Your DVR Supports
If you DVR supports IP cameras, you definitely need to find out what manufacturers and models of IP cameras they support. Many DVR suppliers only support 1 or a small number of IP camera manufacturers.
This can be really confusing and surprising coming from the analog camera world. With analog cameras, no one worried about whether a DVR could support a fixed camera because once you supported 1 analog camera, you supported them all. However, with IP cameras, you have to check every time for not only manufacturer support but for specific model support (i.e., a DVR manufacturer may support the Axis 207 but not the Axis 221).
Determining what IP cameras a DVR supports is very important because different manufacturs specialize in different types of products. If your DVR only supports 1 or 2 camera manufacturers, this could cause significant problems. For instance, there are specialists in high end, standard definition cameras ; budget standard definition cameras ; inexpensive multi-megapixel cameras ; high end multi-megapixel cameras , etc. You need to determine what types of IP cameras you need and whether those are supported by your DVR.
These first two points will help you understand the degree of difficulty of adding in IP cameras.
NVRs or IP Video Management Software
At this stage many will reach a point where you need to consider replacing your DVR system. The emerging alternative are designed to support dozens of IP cameras. If you get to this point, this will be a challenge in and of itself. There are dozens of companies that offer NVRs or IP Video Management software.
Furthermore, if you head in this direction you will need to determine how to support your existing analog cameras. Because IP Video Management Software only supports IP video streams, you will need to purchase encoders to convert the analog video stream from your camera into an IP video stream that the IP Video Management software can handle. Encoders are fairly expensive ($300 - $600 USD per camera) so it may be worthwhile but it is not without its costs.
This covers the fundamental product options and choices. To determine if the migration is worth it, focus on the next two items.
Eliminate Long Distance Analog Cabling
All cameras need to be connected to a video recorder. How they are connected can vary greatly. The most common means for analog cameras is to use a dedicated coaxial cable to connect the camera to the DVR. Indoors and over short distances, this is usually quite simple to do. However, if you need to go long distances, outdoors or through areas where it is hard to run a new dedicated cable, analog cameras can become problematic.
If you have multiple buildings or outdoor areas to protect, you may not be currently using surveillance cameras or if you are you had to resort to expensive proprietary transmission systems. This is the most valuable and powerful use of IP camears. With IP cameras, you have the potential of reusing existing networks in your facilities. You also can use low cost IP wireless equipment to add cameras in distant or outdoor locations.
To the extent that this situation applies to you, your motivation to move to IP cameras should be stronger. It can either reduce costs by thousands of dollars compared to existing implementation or enable you to add new cameras in places that would have been previously cost prohibitive.
Use of Higher Resolution Images
IP cameras offer the potential to capture and record much higher resolution images than analog cameras. While the maximum resolution of most IP cameras is the same as most analog cameras, one type of IP camera, the megapixel camera, can offer far greater resolution.
You should determine how and where you can make most use out of megapixel cameras. Key determinants are (1) the greater the area you want to cover and (2)the higher your need to see details. For example, a parking lot or cashier's station. By contrast, if you are observing a small office room and just need to know when someone was inside, a traditional standard definition analog camera will do fine.
Megapixel cameras come with two huge impacts that you must consider when migrating from analog cameras: bandwidth and storage.
Assess the Bandwidth Impact
When migrating from analog to IP, if you keep the resolution you record at the same, the impact on bandwidth (your computer network) should be minimal. For instance, most commercial users record at 5 frames per second at CIF (320 x 240 pixels). At these levels, bandwidth consumption is quite low (under .5 Mb/s) relative to today's networks (100 Mb/s ++). Even with a few dozen cameras, this should not make a significant impact on even lower end switches.
However, if you want high resolution or framerates, then you need to start carefully assessing the impact. With these conditions, each camera can consume 5Mb/s to 45 Mb/s, which starts adding up. While you can purchases networking equipment that can handle 1000Mb/s or more, you should not assume that this is already in place and that you can just plug this in.
You certainly should test the bandwidth load before deployment. You may need to consider one of the following two options:
Use a separate IP network for the cameras.
Upgrade your existing networking equipment to make sure that it can support the load.
Both are certainly expensive and can have a significant operational and political impact with your IT's organization. Though this can be accomplished, do not take it for granted as the cost and complexity can be significant.
Assess the Storage Impact
In a similar manner, increasing the video quality, certainly impacts storage needs. If you use DVRs, you are likely used to buying storage bundled with the DVR (e.g., a DVR with 250 GB or 500GBs of storage for 16 cameras). With IP cameras and, especially with megapixel, you can easily be looking at 1TB per camera, which is a very significant increase. This could increase the cost of your system by tens of thousands of dollars.
You will need to better determine how significant this will be and your willingness to spend more for storage. Some organizations will find it to be no big deal but others may be shocked.
Hopefully this helps identifies key points so you can better assess your situation.
Please ask questions, add other points and debate the appropriateness of the recommendations made.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fire Alarm Systems: What do the Codes Say?

Fire alarm systems and smoke alarms are life safety systems that save countless lives each year, both civilians and firefighters. The International Residential Code requires interconnected, hardwired smoke alarms in all new construction (Section R313) and the International Building Code and International Fire Code (Section 907.2) call for manual or automatic fire alarm systems in most commercial buildings with high life occupancy or other hazards. In addition to new construction, the International Fire Code also has provisions for fire alarm systems and smoke alarms in existing structures (Section 907.3).

There has been a lot of discussion lately concerning residential smoke alarm technology. Americans have relied on low-cost ionization type detectors for more than 30 years. Some new information, however, indicates that ionization technology may be slower in detecting smoldering fires while they are most effective in alerting residents to fast-flaming fires. Photoelectric detection technology has also been available for decades and recent testing indicates this technology may respond faster to smoldering type fires. Because photoelectric technology is several times more expensive than ionization, most homes have the ionization type devices presently installed.

Since one can never predict what type of fire may occur, there have been recent recommendations by many fire service organizations to advise the public their best protection is to install both types of smoke detectors or a “dual-technology” detector. Some jurisdictions have introduced legislation that would make the requirement for combined ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual technology laws. While this may seem a logical approach, it has not been fully substantiated by thorough and independent scientific testing, nor has it gone through a consensus process utilized for updating codes or standards. Laws are tough to pass, but even tougher to change once enacted and signed into law. Future information or technology may render these laws effectively obsolete, but still on the books. This is an important consideration for any code-related issues that may seem to be right today but may turn out to be wrong tomorrow.

There are many factors that need to be tested and considered by all the technical experts and stakeholders before a change can be made to the International Residential Code to expand its requirements beyond the current requirement for interconnected, hard-wired smoke alarms in each sleeping room, in the hallway outside each sleeping room, and at least one on each floor. The question of how to provide the best possible protection from all types of fires in residential dwellings is an important life safety concern that is best answered through a governmental consensus process, such as those used for changing building codes or installation standards developed by the International Code Council.

As a member of the fire service, this is another area where fire service participation in the code development and installation standard development process will be critical in determining the future requirements for smoke alarm technology in homes across America. The International Code Council uses a governmental consensus process that accepts code change proposals and testimony from any interested party, but limits the final vote to determine what is published as requirements in any of the I-Codes to governmental voting members.

Governmental members are those who administer building and fire safety codes for their jurisdiction and are “First Preventers” – code officials and other public safety servants as opposed to those representing any special or financial interest. They may go under the title of fire chief, fire inspector, fire marshal, or fire code official, but the labels merely obscure their common mission to prevent harm by ensuring code compliance before a disaster occurs. The fire service is welcome to apply for Code Council Governmental membership and fully participate in code development.

Properly installed and maintained manual and automatic fire alarm systems in commercial buildings such as public assembly buildings, high-rises, hospitals, factories, mercantiles, schools, and malls to name a few, are also essential life safety systems. International Building Code and International Fire Code include provisions for the installation, testing and proper maintenance of these systems. These coordinated and companion documents provide the utmost public and firefighter safety when used together. They identify the types of buildings that require a manual and/or automatic fire alarm system based on life risk, building construction features, and/or fire or hazardous material risks. The International Fire Code references the National Fire Protection Association – Standard 72, National Fire Alarm Code for commercial fire alarm system design, installation, and maintenance specifications.

Proper installation, correct location of smoke detection devices, and regular inspection, maintenance, and testing of all devices are essential for proper system operation and the prevention of false or nuisance alarms, a potentially dangerous response for fire service and the public. The International Fire Code is written to ensure the fire alarm systems will detect smoke quickly and alert occupants in sufficient time to safety exit the building. These fire alarm systems must be designed by qualified professionals. The permit application must include detailed plans that are reviewed by trained fire and building code plans examiners prior to installation. Qualified (and in some cases certified) installation technicians must complete the installation for acceptance testing by fire inspection personnel. The International Fire Code requires all fire protection systems must be installed, inspected, tested and approved prior to any public occupancy of the building.

When the fire alarm system is temporally inoperative for maintenance, repair, or testing, the International Fire Code requires a fire alarm system impairment coordinator is used to ensure occupant and firefighter safety. Building owners are required to follow several basic steps to communicate system impairments and provide alternate means of occupant safety for the duration of the impairment.

Finally, the International Fire Code prohibits the use of any device that has the appearance of a life safety device (i.e. smoke detector, heat detector, manual pull station, etc.) for any other purpose. This includes covert security equipment that is disguised to look life part of the fire alarm system.

When commercial fire alarms systems are properly installed and maintained, they perform very well. When they are not, the public and fire service are subject to unnecessary “false alarms” that puts everyone at risk. The public may be slow to respond to the home smoke detector or commercial fire alarm if it is “always going off” with no smoke or fire condition. The fire service may be at risk of injury during response and may also suffer from false alarm syndrome; becoming complacent that the response for the activated fire alarm will turn out to be a false activation and not taking the same safety precautions we would take for a confirmed fire. These human responses defeat the effectiveness of fire alarm systems and smoke detectors as life safety systems.

The fire service will need to pay special attention to fire alarm maintenance requirements and periodic inspections as the national economic recession may lead business owners to cut back on the required maintenance to balance their budgets. Work with your fire inspectors to promptly inspect premises with a sudden increase in fire alarm activity to avoid potential problems.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Steps to design Wireless CCTV

While wireless can uniquely solve certain challenges, it is far riskier to deploy and use than wired networks. As such, it is critical to understand when to use wireless systems and the key risks in designing such systems. If you use wireless networks prudently for video surveillance systems, the financial benefits can be quite significant. However, miscalculation in choice and design can result in significant reliability and scalability problems.
As a general rule, you should avoid using wireless networks unless wired networks costs are significantly higher than a wireless system. This is because deploying and maintaining wireless networks is far more risky and expensive than it is for a wired network. Wireless systems face much more serious problems that wireline networks do such as constrained bandwidth, signal obstruction, higher maintenance cost and scalability restrictions.
Let's review these key elements:
- How much bandwidth is available?
- How far can away can the wireless cameras be?
- How many cameras can I deploy?
Wireless networks have far lower bandwidth than wired networks. On a wired network, bandwidth available for video surveillance can be easily 70 Mb/s to 700 Mb/s. On a wireless network, your available bandwidth is often no more than 5 Mb/s to 25 Mb/s. It is a dramatic and often overlooked aspect of wireless video surveillance design.
Wireless video surveillance usually has significantly less bandwidth the wireless system states. This is because the way bandwidth is calculated in wireless systems is the opposite of the more traditional wired approach. With a wired network, if you say you have 100 Mb/s bandwidth, this means you have 100 Mb/s going up and another 100 Mb/s going down. In a wireless network, if you say you have 11 Mb/s bandwidth, that is the total for both upstream and downstream. Some wireless systems are fixed to allow half the bandwidth for upstream and half for downstream. This is a big problem for video surveillance because almost all the bandwidth used is in one direction (upstream). Make sure your wireless system lets the upstream take up the whole bandwidth if needed. This is common with wireless systems dedicated to video but none in common commercial gear.
Environmental conditions often reduce the bandwidth further. Wireless networks are much more prone to effects from the environment than wired networks. Wireless networks will only achieve their maximum if the strength of the signal (signal to noise) is sufficiently high. If there are partial obstructions or if the antenna shifts slightly, the bandwidth from wireless systems can drop further. In our previous example, the 11 Mb/s wireless system only offers 5.5 Mb/s for streaming video. However, common environmental conditions can drop the bandwidth to 2.75 Mb/s.
Distance of Cameras
It is quite hard to set up multi-mile wireless links to video surveillance cameras. A number of factors including obstructions, frequency limitations, power limitations, and installation precision drive this. Note: this tutorial assumes the use of unlicensed frequency, by far the most common choice for deploying wireless video systems. If you are using licensed frequency, where you can use much higher power and ensure no interference, these issues are not as significant. However, obtaining licenses are expensive and time consuming so most application use unlicensed spectrum. The rest of the discussion assumes unlicensed frequencies.
You are constrained in how powerful your signal can be, significantly reducing the distance that you can transmit. The government restricts the power of your signal so that you do not drain out other users. However, this means it is much harder to push through obstacles and go greater distances. It also means that other users of the same frequency can reduce the bandwidth or block your signal. This is a major factor in the emergence of the 4.9 Ghz range for use in video surveillance projects as that range is dedicated to public safety.
Obstacles are very seriously problems for wireless video surveillance systems. Most wireless video surveillance system use frequency ranges that are easily absorbed by buildings and trees (2.4 Ghz through 5.8 Ghz). Practically speaking, you may want to transmit to a building 100 meters away but if another building is in between, the signal will be absorbed and the link will not be possible. You can and should use mesh networks to accommodate this but you must factor in the impact on the cost of the overall network.
Installation precision is key but issues can go wrong that may increase long term maintenance. Because of power restrictions, wireless video systems commonly use high gain antennas that increase signal power by concentrating it into a narrower area. This can help greatly in going longer distances or overcoming obstacles, however, it means the antennas must line up very precisely. If they do not, the performance of the system will degrade significantly. Also, if during the life of the system, either antenna shifts, the performance of the system could degrade 'out of the blue.'
Number of Cameras
The number of cameras on a wireless system is severely constrained due to bandwidth limitations and constraints on how far cameras can be placed. For any given wireless connection, the maximum number of cameras that can be supported is generally between 5 and 15 with the cameras being less than a mile from the receiver. Even 'VCR' quality video using a good CODEC will take about 1 Mb/s. This is significant when your are dealing with wireless links that may only support 5 - 20 Mb/s. The total number of wireless cameras can be increasing by using multiple wireless connections or by combining wireless and wired networks.
A prudent practice is to use both wireless and wired networks with the wireless portion minimized to only the specific scenarios where deploying a wired connection would be cost-prohibitive. A typical example is getting a network drop in a building (either off the internal LAN or from a telco) and deploying a wireless link from the building to camera locations close to that building on poles or fence lines.
In any of these approachs, CODEC choice and resolution selection are key factors in the number of cameras that can be supported. In a wired network where 70 - 700 Mb/s networks are common, not compressing video heavily can work. However, in a wireless network, with 5 Mb/s to 15 M/bs available total, a single MJPEG standard definition camera could consume all of the available bandwidth by itself. Similarly, given the bandwidth constrains, megapixel cameras are especially challenges. Even with various optimizations, megapixel cameras can consume far greater bandwidth than standard cameras (assuming you use the same frame rate).
Wireless networks can solve applications where wired networks are far too expensive. By relieving the need for expensive construction projects, video surveillance can be deployed in places where it would otherwise be cost unjustifiable. However, wireless networks offer far greater challenges and risks in design and maintenance. As such a clear understanding of these elements and when to prudently use wireless systems will contribute to success wireless video surveillance systems.

Bandwidth Basics for IP CCTV Design

When using IP cameras, Megapixel cameras, NVRs or even DVRs, understanding the basics about how much bandwidth is available and how much is needed is critical in planning, designing and deploying IP video surveillance systems. Everyone in the industry should have an understanding of the basics as bandwidth is a critical factor in video surveillance
This article is focused for a non-IT audience such as security managers, electronic technicians, sales and marketing folks. I am purposely ignoring details and edge cases to help a broader audience better understand the basics.

How Much Bandwidth is Available?
To figure out how much bandwidth is available, you first need to determine what locations you are communicating between. Much like driving, you will have a starting point and destination. For example, from your branch office to your headquarters. However, unlike driving, the amount of bandwidth available can range dramatically depending on where you are going.
The most important factor in determining how much bandwidth is available is whether or not you need connectivity between two different buildings. For instance:
In the Same Building: 70Mb/s to 700 Mb/s of bandwidth is generally available
In Different Buildings: .5 Mb/s to 5 Mb/s of bandwidth is generally available
The amount of bandwidth available going from your office to a co-worker's office in the same building can be 200 times more than the bandwidth from your office to a branch office down the block.
This is true in 90% or more cases. Note the following exceptions:
If these are different buildings but on the same campus, more bandwidth may be available.
If you are in a central business district of a major city, more bandwidth may be available.
If you are a telecommunications or research company, more bandwidth may be available.

Different Buildings
The key driver in bandwidth availability is the cost increase of deploying networks between buildings. Generally referred to as the Wide Area Network or WAN, this type of bandwidth is usually provided by telecommunications companies. One common example is cable modem or DSL, which can provide anywhere from .5 Mb/s to 5 Mb/s at $50 to $150 per month. Another example is a T1, which provides 1.5Mb/s for about $300 to $600 per month. Above this level, bandwidth generally becomes very expensive. In most locations, getting 10Mb/s of bandwidth can cost thousands per month.
Many talk about fiber (sometimes called FTTH/FTTC) but fiber to the building is not and will not be widely available for years. Fiber to the home or to the business promises to reduce the cost of bandwidth significantly. Nevertheless, it is very expensive to deploy and despite excited discussions for the last decade or more, progress remains slow. If you have it great, but do not assume it.

Same Buildings
By contrast, bandwidth inside of buildings (or campuses) is quite high because the costs of deploying it are quite low. Non technical users can easily set up a 1000Mb/s networks inside a building (aka Local Area Networks or LANs) for less than $1,000 installation cost with no monthly costs. Contrast this to the WAN, where the same bandwidth could cost tens of thousands of dollars per month.
The cost of deploying networks in buildings are low because there are minimal to no construction expenses. When you are building a network across a city, you need to get rights of ways, trench, install on telephone poles, etc. These are massive projects that can easily demand millions or billions of dollars in up front expenses. By contrast, inside a building, the cables can often by quickly and simply fished through ceilings (not the professional way to do it but the way many people do it in deployments).
A lot of discussion about wireless (WiMax, WiFi, 3G, etc) exists but wireless will not provide significantly greater bandwidth nor significantly better costs than DSL or cable modem. As such, wireless will not solve the expense and limitations of bandwidth between buildings. That being said, wireless absolutely has benefits for mobility purposes and connecting to remote locations that DSL or cable modem cannot cost effectively serve. The point here is simply that it will not solve the problem of bandwidth between buildings being much more expensive than bandwidth inside of buildings.

How Much Bandwidth Do IP Cameras Consume?
For the bandwidth consumption of an IP camera, use 1 Mb/s as a rough rule of thumb. Now, there are many factors that affect total bandwidth consumption. You can certainly stream an IP camera as low as .2 Mb/s (or 200 Kb/s) and others as high as 6 Mb/s. The more resolution and greater frame rate you want, the more bandwidth will be used. The more efficient the CODEC you use, the less bandwidth will be used.
For the bandwidth consumption of a Megapixel camera, use 5 Mb/s to 10 Mb/s as a rough rule of thumb. Again, there are a number of factors that affect total bandwidth consumption. A 1.3 megapixel camera at 1fps can consume as little as .8 Mb/s (or 800 Kb/s) yet a 5 megapixel camera can consume as much as 45 Mb/s.

What Does this Mean for my IP Video System?
Just like dealing with personal finance, we can now figure out what we can 'afford':
Between Buildings: We have .5 Mb/s to 5 Mb/s to 'spend'
Inside Buildings: We have 70 Mb/s to 700 Mb/s to 'spend'
IP cameras: Cost us 1 Mb/s each
Megapixel cameras: Cost us 5 Mb/s to 10 Mb/s each
Using these points, we can quickly see what combination of IP and megapixel cameras we can use between buildings or inside of buildings.
Inside of buildings, it is easy to stream numerous IP and megapixel cameras.
Between buildings, it is almost impossible to stream numerous IP and megapixel cameras.
Because of this situation, the standard configuration one sees in IP Video systems is:
A local recorder at each building/remote site. The local recorder receives the streams from the building and stores them.
The local recorder only forwards the streams (live or recorded) off-site when a user specifically wants to view video. Rather than overloading the WAN network with unrealistic bandwidth demands all day long, bandwidth is only consumed when a user wants to watch. Generally, remote viewing is sporadic and IP video coexists nicely with the expensive Wide Area Network.
The local recorder has built-in features to reduce the bandwidth needed to stream video to remote clients. Most systems have the ability to reduce the frame rate of the live video stream or to dynamically reduce the video quality to ensure that the video system does not overload the network and that remote viewers can actually see what is going on the other side. Generally, the live video stream is sufficient to identify the basic threat. In any event, bandwidth is generally so costly, especially the upstream bandwidth needed to send to a remote viewer, that this is the best financial decision.
Knowing how much bandwidth is available for DVRs and NVRs and how much bandwidth IP and megapixel cameras consume are key elements in planning and deploying viable IP video systems. Though this is simply a broad survey, my hope is that this helps identify fundamental elements in understanding the impact of bandwidth on IP video.

PTZ Camera Working

Friday, August 8, 2008

Beijing Olympics visitors to come under widespread surveillance

The government has installed about 300,000 cameras in Beijing and set up a network to spy on its citizens and foreigners.
The blocking of human rights websites in China leading up to the Olympics is part of an information control and surveillance network awaiting visitors that will include monitoring devices in hotels and taxis and snoops almost everywhere.

Government agents or their proxies are suspected of stepping up cyber-attacks on overseas Tibetan, human rights and press freedom groups and the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement in recent weeks. And China is spending huge sums on sophisticated surveillance systems that incorporate face recognition technology, biometrics and massive databases to help control the population.China has installed about 300,000 cameras in Beijing under an estimated $6.5-billion, seven-year program dubbed the Grand Beijing Safeguard Sphere. Although face recognition software still can’t process rapidly moving images, China hopes that it can soon electronically identify faces out of a vast crowd.

“China is trying to project a picture and a narrative about the Olympics,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Hong Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch. “By limiting journalists, shutting down the Internet, arresting activists, it’s hoping to control the message.”

The world’s most populous nation has legitimate concerns, as seen this week in an attack in the far western province of Xinjiang that killed 16 police officers. Few expect the security infrastructure to be even partially dismantled, a step Greece took after hosting the 2004 games.
Critics said these systems give China more advanced tools in its bid to control domestic critics, activists and media. In recent months China has recruited thousands of Beijing taxi drivers and hundreds of thousands of neighborhood busybodies to keep an eye on foreigners and its own citizens.

“Everyone feels they’re entering a police state, which by the way it is, duh,” said Sharon Hom, executive director of New York-based Human Rights in China. “So they’ve got people reporting down to the lowest neighborhood level, which is not new, overlaid by state-of-the-art technology. It’s the best of the old and the new.”

Another technology that raises concern involves the new identity cards China is phasing in for its 1.3 billion citizens. The cards, developed with help from Plano, Texas-based China Information Security Technology, carry radio signal devices and a chip that records not only a person’s height, weight and identification number, but also health records, work history, education, travel, religion, ethnicity, reproductive history, police record, medical insurance status and even his or her landlord’s phone number.

Near the Second Ring Road in downtown Beijing, Wu Naimei, 74, sat on a folding chair fanning herself. “If we see any suspicious people, we call the police and report on them,” the retired subway worker said, adding that she can’t define a suspicious person but knows one when she sees one. “We are happy to help protect our motherland, assist the nation and help our leaders relax.”

The West might have a stronger argument in questioning China’s potential for intrusive surveillance if it weren’t moving rapidly in the same direction. London is believed to have the largest number of closed-circuit TV cameras of any city in the world. Many countries have seen vast troves of personal data lost or stolen. Financial records and phone calls are now routinely monitored.

The difference is that Western countries have better checks on police power, some human rights activists said, even as they expressed concern that the U.S. could soon be using technologies developed in China.
“Every country wants to avoid abuse of police power,” said Xu Zhiyong, a lecturer at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. “It’s getting better in China, but we still have a ways to go.”
In addition to blocking online information about corruption and human rights violations, the government is suspected of collecting information on visitors’ Internet search activity.
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) said late last month that foreign-owned hotels in China were under pressure to sign contracts authorizing police to install hardware and software to monitor their guests’ Internet activity. Hotel managers contacted in Beijing declined to comment.
This followed a State Department warning in March that “all hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang quickly called the U.S. report irresponsible and denied that China employed more surveillance than normal.
In Beijing, two taxi drivers who asked not to be identified while discussing confidential matters displayed a pair of black button-sized devices just to the left of their steering wheel linked to the vehicle’s navigation system. They said the devices allow a central monitoring station to listen to anything inside the taxi.
One driver said that besides listening in on passengers, officials can hear any griping he might do about the Communist Party, which could result in punishment.
The Danish women’s soccer team caught two men spying on its members in September during a FIFA World Cup meet in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, Lars Berendt, the group’s communication director, said in a telephone interview from their headquarters in Brondby.
Berendt said team members were in a hotel room having a tactical meeting when they noticed some movement behind what turned out to be a one-way mirror. In an adjoining room, they found two men, at least one of whom wore a hotel badge, and they held them until police arrived.
Berendt said the hotel denied any knowledge of the incident, and the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, said it was a matter for local authorities. Chinese police haven’t commented on any investigation.
“We’re not holding our breath,” Berendt said.
The state-run New China News Agency quoted fans as saying the Danes were just sore losers.
Security experts say company executives attending the Olympics are being advised to bring computers that have been wiped clean and to safeguard their smart phones. In extreme cases, they are also weighing the laptop to the gram to test whether ultra-light hardware devices have been added.
But a Western security consultant for one Olympic sponsor who asked not to be identified given the sensitive nature of his work said many of these fears were overblown, and that Chinese police had better things to do than spy on every “self-important corporate executive.”
Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, a semiofficial research organization, said most Chinese surveillance was in line with that of other Olympic host nations and didn’t dangerously compromise privacy.
Still, experts such as Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and author of a recent report on Chinese surveillance, believe that China is pushing the envelope.
“With Internet controls, there are ways around,” Rotenberg said. “But with surveillance technologies, you’re getting into the fabric of the state.”

Monday, August 4, 2008

Wireless security alarm connections forecasted to grow

Traditionally, security alarm systems used fixed telephone lines to pass information from the security alarm panel to a central monitoring facility. Today, however, that communication is increasingly being delegated to a digital cellular link. ABI Research forecasts that the 2007 number of just fewer than 2.5 million wireless security alarm connections will increase to more than 7.5 million in 2013.What is driving this transition? According to senior analyst Sam Lucero, a number of factors have combined to create this new market trend: “In North America, formerly analog wireless security alarms are now shifting to digital cellular services as a result of the AMPS ‘sunset’ in February 2008. More importantly, the continuing decline of landline voice services and the increasing utilization of second phone lines for DSL broadband services have made cellular connectivity more attractive, even necessary, for security alarm connectivity.”Other factors promoting cellular security backhaul include the general trend for cost-optimized alarm systems to rely on wireless connectivity exclusively, particularly in Europe. In addition, wireless operators and broadband service providers are increasingly entering the security alarm service industry and are utilizing wireless either as a primary connection or back-up connection to a primary broadband connection. Also, unlike wired connections, cellular connections cannot be cut, and current cellular module technology includes anti-jamming features.Lucero does caution that there are challenges to the adoption of wireless technology by the security alarm industry. “Wireless is a relatively new option and many security alarm dealers have to be trained in the installation process,” he says. “In addition, the relatively high cost of modules, particularly CDMA modules, is an inhibitor. Despite these barriers, however, there is an opportunity here for most if not all cellular module vendors, as well as for carriers and specialist M2M providers.”AT&T appears to have positioned itself as a key player in the North American market, as has M2M mobile operators Aeris, Jasper Wireless, and Numerex. M2M mobile virtual network operator KORE Telematics is also strongly positioned in this market.ABI Research’s recent study “Home Automation and Security” analyzes these trends and provides forecasts for home automation shipments and revenue, as well as the growth of the use of cellular wireless technologies in the security market. It forms part of three of the firm’s Research Services: Home Networking, M2M and Short Range Wireless.ABI Research is a leading market research firm focused on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets. Utilizing a unique blend of market intelligence, primary research, and expert assessment from its worldwide team of industry analysts, ABI Research assists hundreds of clients each year with their strategic growth initiatives.

US Network Video Surveillance market slowing down

Network video surveillance is without doubt one of the fastest growing markets in the security industry. In a recent report from IMS Research, the US market for network cameras, video servers and NVRs is estimated to have increased by a massive 45 percent in 2007. However, the market has got off to a slower start in 2008 and it seems unlikely that the market will grow as fast this year as it did last year. The main reason for the slow-down is the struggling US economy, which narrowly avoided entering a recession in the first quarter of the year, recording a modest increase of just 0.9 percent. Economists are divided as to whether a recession will take hold in the second quarter of the year. In this current climate of economic uncertainty, many companies are delaying capital expenditure and several major security projects have been put on hold.The retail industry, which is the largest spender on video surveillance equipment in the US, has been particularly hard hit. Soaring energy and food prices, together with the credit crunch, have curbed consumer spending. In the first quarter of 2008 consumer spending rose just 1 percent, the slowest since the second quarter of 2001, when the US was suffering its last recession. As a result, many retailers are scaling back new store expansion plans which will impact sales of video surveillance equipment.Simon Harris, senior research director at IMS Research, commented: "In spite of the stagnant economy, the US market for network video surveillance products is still growing strongly, albeit at a reduced rate from 2007. We anticipate that the market will grow well above 30 percent in 2008 and may even top 40 percent, particularly if the economy picks-up in the second half of the year".Whilst 2008 may prove a more challenging year for suppliers of network video surveillance equipment, the long term outlook for the market is very positive. The trend from analogue CCTV to network video surveillance is still in the early stages and last year network video surveillance products accounted for less than 20 percent of total video surveillance equipment sales. IMS Research anticipates that the trend to network video surveillance will be ongoing over a number of years, ensuring high growth for the long term.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Photos: Inside San Francisco airport's secure operating centre

From the observation room inside the secure operating centre (SOC) at San Francisco International airport, staff are able to check out every alert as they are raised by the technology analysing real-time CCTV footage.
This is less labour intensive than previous systems and more reliable as staff only check out events which raise alerts, rather than watching an innocuous event unfold on one screen while a threat goes unnoticed on another.
The reduction in head-count required means security guards can actually be deployed more effectively out on the airport concourse, according to Guy Morgante, VP of services at Vidient, whose technology is being used under a federally funded grant programme.

Inside San Francisco airport's secure operating centre-Photo 1

The system picks up a vehicle which has remained static for too long in a specified area.
Paul Foster, aviation security manager at San Francisco International airport, tells it could be somebody who is lost and is sat reading a map but if the vehicle raises an alert, based on parameters such as vehicle size, location or length of time it remains stationary, the incident will be checked out.

San Francisco Airport secured by 'all seeing CCTV'

Security at San Francisco International airport - the gateway to Silicon Valley - has been tightened up with the introduction of CCTV technology which not only observes but analyses footage and alerts security teams when necessary to ensure no potential threats go unnoticed.
The rollout is at the vanguard of improved airport security worldwide in the wake of increased fears about terrorism. But it is far from a simple question of stopping terrorists - it's more an issue of ensuring the airport operates in a secure manner every day, according to Paul Foster, aviation security manager at San Francisco International airport.
Thirty minutes could cost you millions of dollars.

Foster told one of his biggest concerns is around access control: who goes where; and why. And in a busy airport environment it would be too labour intensive to have every door and every CCTV monitor under actual physical human surveillance, he said.
Guy Morgante, VP of services at Vidient which, under a federally funded grant programme, has been providing the video analysis service to the airport, said a major problem with monitoring CCTV coverage currently is with the human sat in front of multiple screens, often divided further into multiple camera views.
Morgante told : "Anybody who has been in a control and command centre knows that is a huge problem. How alert can you be monitoring these cameras for hours?"
Vidient claims its algorithms can monitor what those cameras are seeing and can flag up any suspicious events. Most commonly they are looking for individuals "tailgating" - following another person through an opened door - or static objects, either in secure areas or at kerbside.
Foster said a "one swipe per person" system for passing through all doors is rigorously enforced. The cameras can detect if two people pass through an open door, and can even differentiate between one very large person and two smaller people.
Even staff who are entitled to pass through that door must swipe, in order to prevent an alert being triggered.
And those who do trigger an alert, Foster said, are "admonished" for failing to follow security best practice. "People now know we have a system in place," he said Foster, adding that alerts have fallen considerably after some re-education and admonishment.
The running of a tighter ship therefore makes the task of detecting the genuine alerts far easier.
Asked whether he believes he has ever stopped an incident which could have escalated into a genuine threat, Foster claims that is not really the question: "Did I stop a bad guy or did I just stop an employee from doing something they shouldn't be doing? I can't be certain.
"People in security look at things differently. There is no immediately visible return on investment. You don't see a cash return but what you do see is that nothing occurs. Now, did nothing occur because of the system in place or did nothing occur because nothing occurred? It doesn't really matter which it was. What is important is that we're not dealing with a security incident, and that makes me happy."
Where Foster claims the real returns come are with the obvious non-cashable advantages of running the airport in a secure manner where all staff realise the benefit of doing their bit.
The technology is also employed in access and exit lanes through security checks to spot people moving in the wrong direction and also with traffic around the airport - at secure locations such as the fuel farm. Again tailgating either by another vehicle or by a person following a vehicle through a gate can be detected, even under the cover of darkness.
The Vidient system will also allow for parameters to be set whereby alerts are triggered for vehicles of a certain size, waiting in a certain location for a certain length of time.
If the airport's team can spot an anomalous event and raise an alert to investigate it or stop it proactively then it saves on more costly reactive procedures. A person heading the wrong way through security checks could be lost or could be posing a threat. Either way the outcome could be costly if they proceed and manage to bypass security.
Pointing to the high costs associated with flights missing their timeslots and air carriers having to accommodate passengers, Foster said: "If the TSA [Transportation Security Administration] has to close down an airside and rescreen everyone, then physically inspect the entire airside, there will be a tremendous ripple effect.

"Thirty minutes could cost you millions of dollars."

UK Police plan national database of CCTV images

British police forces are to explore the feasibility of a national database of CCTV images that would be on a par with the existing national databases for DNA and fingerprint samples.
This is despite news reports that the Metropolitan Police success rate in using CCTV to secure convictions is as low as 3%, and the cancellation of a national facial image database due to lack of funds.
Graeme Gerrard, deputy chief constable of Cheshire Police and chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers' working group on CCTV and video, said CCTV was very useful in preventing, detecting, and investigating crime. Police also use it to monitor activity in potential and actual crime scenes, he said.

Gerrard said press reports on the poor success rate had ignored the fact that some sections of the Met had a "20% to 25%" success rate in using CCTV. But he said the lack of a national strategy in the past meant CCTV was less useful than it could be for police work.
The Home Office published a national CCTV strategy document in October 2007, which made 44 recommendations. Gerrard, a co-author of the report, said there were severe technological, managerial and logistical issues to overcome.

He said that most of the estimated 4.2 million CCTV systems now installed are owned by local government and the private sector. Few produce images usable by police to secure convictions without corroborating evidence, he said. "Even if we have a usable image, we still have to identify the person," he said.

He said his group would explore the feasibility of storing CCTV images of crimes and matching them against databases of known and unidentified offenders, as happens with DNA and fingerprint samples from crime scenes.

However, the National Police Improvement Agency announced the cancellation of fhe Facial Images National Database (FIND) project as of 31 March 2008. "The FIND pilot will not be rolled-out beyond those forces currently involved because there is no clear line of funding for a full national service," it said.

Gerrard said that funding for national CCTV projects was also tenuous. His group was working with others such as the British Standards Institute, the Department of Justice, the Information Commissioner's Office and others to develop standards for anyone who wanted to produce CCTV images that the police could use.

Smart Surveillance system eyes up Violent behaviour

Scientists have developed a new type of surveillance that can differentiate between a friendly hug or a punch in the face.

The smart surveillance system, developed by boffins at the University of Texas, is capable of automatically detecting violent crimes.The system could soon be available to monitor huge quantities of CCTV security footage.

The software behind the system analyses each frame of footage to spot any suspicious behaviour.
Real CCTV is low resolution and people don't usually walk up 'nicely' to one another.
The system was tested using six pairs of people who were asked to carry out various actions on one another, including sequences where the actors throw a few (fake) punches and push each other around.
Each frame was then analysed by the system with 92 per cent of single actions (for example, a simple shake of the hand) accurately detected and two-thirds of longer sequences correctly spotted.The images used to test the surveillance system are of a high resolution. "Real CCTV is low resolution," adding "people don't usually walk up 'nicely' to one another".

"Next Generation-Talking CCTV

'Talking' CCTV cameras that shout warnings to litter louts and those engaged in anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 trouble hotspots across England following a successful trial in Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough has been using the talking CCTV cameras since last summer and has declared the project a success in cleaning the streets of litter and tackling anti-social behaviour in trouble hotspots around the town centre.
Speakers on the cameras allow the operators to broadcast warnings when they spot people dropping litter or committing public order offences, such as drunkenness or fighting.
Home Secretary John Reid has now announced £500,000 of funding from the government's Respect taskforce to extend the talking CCTV cameras in trouble hotspots in 20 towns and cities.
Reid said in a statement: "Talking CCTV is another tool in creating safer communities. It uses modern technology to allow camera operators to speak directly to people on the streets to stop or prevent them acting anti-socially. We know from Middlesbrough's experience that this works."
Some of the areas the CCTV scheme will be extended to are Blackpool, Coventry, Derby, Gloucester, Mansfield, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, Salford and Wirral.
Graeme Gerrard, chair of the Association of Chief Police Officers CCTV working group and deputy chief constable of Cheshire Police, said in a statement: "Talking CCTV increases the effectiveness of town centre cameras because it allows the camera operators to intervene and let the offender know their anti-social behaviour has been spotted and is being recorded. In many cases this is enough to stop the offending behaviour which in turn results in safer and tidier streets."
The government is also running competitions in schools in the 20 new areas for schoolchildren to become the voice of the talking CCTV in their town or city for one day when the new cameras go live later this year.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fire Detection and Life Safety: The PAST and Future Progress

Since the birth of the fire alarm industry in 1852 in Boston when the first municipal fire telegraph system was put into operation, an industry concerned with saving lives and reducing property loss was soon looking to expand and improve on this much anticipated device. The first municipal electric alarm system incorporated call boxes and automatic signaling, ushering in a profound change from hand-held clackers running through the streets and bell ringers perched in church steeples on watch for fires. A look at what has taken place over the last 30 years has been just as astonishing as the industry made a quantum leap from low-intelligence systems just a few decades ago.

Since the 1970s, when the industry relied on the technology of switcher and relay controls, which incorporated "big, old" electric relays, similar to an on/off switch, this low intelligence design was soon headed for a makeover. "Prior to the 1970s everything was still working off revised older technology, the relay operated systems," said Ralph Sevinor, president of Wayne Alarm Systems, in Lynn, Mass.

During this decade, digital alarm communication transmitters (DACT), discrete and solid state components were introduced, providing expanded use of a new feature to the fire alarm called zoning. "Up until this point zoning was being introduced only in very large applications and the technology was fraught with problems in many instances." According to Sevinor problems existed such as the wiring in the walls receiving signals of all kinds either real or conducted from the airwaves back to the main panel. "All the wiring that had to be there for the horns, smoke and heat detectors turned out to increase conductivity, especially during lightning storms when surges would happen."

Historically, the advancements in fire alarm systems have often been the result of a tragedy, where lives and property could not be saved. "This is a code driven industry, unlike the security industry, when there is a major tragedy it creates a knee-jerk reaction to fix what could have been mitigated or to correct what went wrong," stated Sevinor. An example of this reaction he said can be traced back to the 1970s when regulations in many states mandated that there be heat detectors and smoke detectors in closets and bathrooms in residential housing. "This was a great idea at the time as the theory was to catch the fire early enough to allow for the residents to get out safely and contain the incident. Unfortunately, the technology at the time employed ionized detectors and every time a resident turned on the hot water or took a shower, a plume of steam would trip the smoke detectors," he explained. As a result, he said, what was anticipated to be a life saving device actually created widespread false alarms. Now, the industry hadn't solved the problem it set out to but instead created another.
When microprocessors were introduced into the computer industry, the advancement was seen as possibly benefiting other industries as well. "The industry went from the old relay controls to solid state to microprocessors which opened a whole new world," explained Steven Rossi, vice president of Communications for Honeywell Fire Systems, Northford, Conn. The world's first single chip microprocessor introduced by Intel in 1971 was within months developing marketing plans to encourage other applications for the new invention which could perform hundreds of millions of calculations each second. The fire alarm industry eagerly embraced this advancement.

Industry experts agree the biggest change in fire alarm technology happened when microprocessing increased the intelligence in the fire panel. "Without a doubt the addressability of the fire alarm has been a big step forward," stated Rossi. The future continues to look bright as manufacturers offer more features. "We can actually watch the migration path of a fire on a monitor," he added. "We can look at the map overlay and relay information back to the fire fighters alerting them to potential additional hazards they may encounter. Firemen no longer have to pull up to a building, unaware of what is in their path."

Heat and smoke detectors
These devices began gaining in popularity as life saving tools beginning in the late 1960s. "As a result of tragedy, the codes were changed and the emphasis on life safety grew, as it should," said Richard Kleinman, president, of AFA Protective Systems located in Syosset, N.Y.
"Smoke detectors are much more efficient than they were long ago," said Mike Henke, product manager for the Sprinkler Division of Potter Electric Signal in St. Louis. "They are less prone to false alarms because they incorporate photoelectric and better ionization features." Kleinman concurred, "The technology behind the smoke detector has changed. There is greater sensitivity for the various types of smoke that can be detected and the pinpointing of the location of smoke has been enhanced."

Sprinkler systems
The concept is a fairly straight-forward one: a heat-sensitive element that opens and sprays water. "The sprinkler system was designed for property protection," said Kleinman. When the sprinkler system lets go and the water is released, a signal is sent to put out the fire and to limit the water damage. After all, following heat and smoke detectors this is the next line of defense in a fire. "A lot has happened over the last 30 years. The increase in the types of sprinklers has been ten-fold. Early models would have a soldered element that would heat up and melt away allowing the water to spray out," said Henke. While that particular model is still in operation today, Henke said the choices in performance are nearly endless with quicker opening sprinkler heads to extended spray heads to meet the demands for many applications.
Sprinkler design and performance has benefited from being tweaked over the years and available options set them apart from their earlier counterparts. "Sprinklers can now spray an array of either small or large droplets depending on the type of fire; they can also spray in a particular pattern and the response time has increased allowing for earlier egress," added Henke.
Where the industry is headed will include improvements such fewer false alarms, increased compatibility with other building controls and increased communication capabilities between the fire panel and the central station.

"In the future I see more microprocessor control interfacing with the fire alarm which will communicate with the building's HVAC and air handling systems. I also see switching over to the Internet as the preferred method of communications over using phone lines,"

Video surveillance in 2008 -- emerging technologies and trends to watch out for

Video surveillance has been an effective monitoring tool for quite some time now. Traditionally, however, this method of surveillance has played more of a reactive rather than a proactive role in security. Recent technological advancements have begun to revolutionize the way surveillance technology is used. This growing trend of active, intelligent video surveillance will likely continue to transform the way society utilizes this technology well into 2008 and beyond.
We will seek to review some of the emerging surveillance trends that will likely garner a great deal of attention throughout the remainder of this year. We will also seek to look at some of the concerns over how the increased use of CCTV and surveillance equipment will affect our personal privacy.

New surveillance trends for 2008
In a Newsweek Web Exclusive (March 15, 2006) by Jessica Bennett entitled, "Big Brother's Big Business," it was stated that nearly one in four major cities within the United States is investing in new surveillance technology. In addition, Joe Freeman, a columnist for Security Technology & Design Magazine has noted that spending on surveillance equipment has nearly doubled in the last five years.
The 2005 video surveillance market was a $9.2 billion dollar business, and is expected to grow to $21 billion by 2010. Advancements that are likely to take the spotlight in 2007 include intelligent video surveillance, new breakthroughs in video surveillance cameras and equipment, and improved wireless IP video connectivity.

Surveillance becomes proactive with intelligent video surveillance technology

Intelligent video surveillance is used to describe the active monitoring of video feeds to detect suspicious activities and behaviors. Intelligent video surveillance software is designed to actively and rapidly scan though video feeds to monitor and detect such suspicious activities as a person entering an unauthorized areas, a bag left unattended, or an individual loitering.
A gentleman by the name of Rama Chellappa, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering of the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, has developed just such a system. He has designed an application that essentially has digitalized specific patterns of activity such as walking. He then incorporated the intricate variations that occur when an individual is harboring a hidden object, or carrying a package, for example. His software is able to detect these variations and determine if they match a pattern consistent with suspicious activity.
Chellappa and his team are now seeking to combine this technology with advanced facial recognition software, and a software algorithm that can estimate the height of subjects. This powerful combination of tools will help identify individuals that might pose a security risk such as known terrorists, criminals, and even unknown individuals who turn up repeatedly in sensitive locations.
New breakthroughs in video surveillance cameras and equipment
Video surveillance cameras and related equipment become more sophisticated every year. New technology rapidly emerges, and almost as quickly video equipment that was once cutting-edge suddenly becomes obsolete. Two new innovative additions to the surveillance marketplace include a distortion free wide-angle camera lens and a hovering camera.

· Distortion free wide-angle camera lens -- A group of South Korean researchers led by Gyeong-il Kweon have designed a wide-angle lens that produces a distortion free image. The lens is built in the shape of a dome. When light enters the dome of the lens, it is reflected off a v-shaped mirror. The light is then redirected into a second "refractive" lens that produces a crisp, clear, undistorted image. Video surveillance cameras equipped with this lens can achieve a field of view of 151 degrees. This camera lens is very inexpensive, selling for only $105. Potential applications for this lens include use in intelligent video security systems and as a robot navigational aid.

· Hovering video camera -- Another unique device we will likely be hearing more about in 2007 is the hovering video camera. Honeywell Aerospace has developed a small 13" compact aerial hovering video camera device called the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) that can be used in military applications to provide information on surrounding areas without exposing troops to enemy fire. This device can go as high as 10,500 feet, but it performs optimally at around 500 feet. It is capable of hovering and loitering in one spot, or can be used to track and follow a moving target. It is easy to see the benefits this type of technology has for military applications.

· Improved wireless IP video connectivity -- Wireless video technology has experienced rapid growth and development in recent months. This technology is responsible for greatly expanding the scope and outreach to which video surveillance cameras can perform effectively. A new development in wireless standards in March of 2006 has led to the 802.11n protocol. This greatly increases both the range and transfer rate of wireless signals. Wireless security has also improved drastically. It is now standard for a wireless system to incorporate advanced encryption technologies. Examples include 128 bit AES, TKIP, 152 bit WEP, and RADIUS. These technologies make it extremely difficult for anyone to break-in or eavesdrop over any wireless network.

All of these advancements is a strong indicator that video surveillance technology is here with us to stay. The applications to which video surveillance technology will be applied will only become more creative and innovative as time passes.

What do all of these innovations mean for us personally?
In general, most individuals are not bothered by the every present eye of video surveillance cameras. A survey conducted in Chicago polled 700 registered voters and found that 8 out of 10 were in favor of video surveillance cameras as a crime prevention measure. The problem is, as video surveillance cameras get more sophisticated they become more effective and easier to conceal. It becomes increasingly difficult to detect and prosecute those that use surveillance technology illegally.
It is inevitable that there will be those that abuse this technology and directly violate an individual's right to personal privacy. Civil liberties groups have become more outspoken about the potential abuse and the need for protective measures. The debate over the use of surveillance cameras is likely to rage on, with no easy solution to the problem.
Like the video surveillance trends we reviewed that will remain with us throughout the year, the conflict between personal protection and personal privacy will remain with us long into the future.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Next Generation of CCTV-Hearing is Believing

Research being undertaken at the University of Ports mouth aims at making smarter CCTV cameras that can respond to noise. According to the sourse, the cameras will use artificial intelligence software to "learn" the "sounds of breaking glass, someone shouting, or the noise of a crowd gathering".These researchers claim that their technology "could revolutionize the speed with which crimes are caught on camera and responded to by police". This project builds upon research into software being developed at the university's Institute of Industrial Research. This software currently identifies visual cues that could raise an alert over unusual activities. The researchers are now working on adding sound cues to the software identification pattern and the director of the institute, Dr. Brown said:

"In identifying sound we are looking for the shapes of sound. In the same way, if you close your eyes, you can trace the shape of a physical object and 'read' its profile with your hand we are developing shapes of sound so the software recognises them."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Security Systems:Finding a Fit

The old saying goes: It’s better to be safe than sorry. In a post-Sept. 11 America, that phrase undoubtedly has entered the minds of many maintenance and engineering managers as they examine, and possibly update, their security systems. Many managers probably will worry about the threats to their facilities’ security, but new technology can empower a manager to make the best decisions possible.
Managers have reason to be excited about the seemingly endless options for protection, particularly because these options can now work together in an integrated internet-protocol (IP) system, creating a unified, secure building.While integrated IP systems wouldn’t necessarily be considered new, managers in institutional and commercial facilities have started using integrated systems for security more than ever. Now, fire-alarm systems, telephones, the internet, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems all can function together.Integrated IP systems are also becoming more common in K-12, higher education, health care, and government buildings because officials have realized the value of having all of their security on one system and flexibility in monitoring that system.This type of system allows managers in a large district to simultaneously watch activity in all of the district’s schools from a central location. Because all components are on one system, anyone with a valid user name and password can access it via the Internet. With an IP-based system, user names and passwords can be tiered to for different levels of access to the system.
Security of the futureFive years ago, biometric systems were seen as the way of the future. Many managers were using retina scanners, hand scanners or fingerprint security. But these devices are perceived to be expensive, and they can provide false reads. Even on the devices on which the sensitivity can be adjusted, problems remain.Managers often bring biometrics into the access-control environment because of ease of use. Employees don’t have to worry about losing a card or remembering a numbered combination. For these reasons, some managers have opted to use biometrics. The price point on biometrics also continues to fall, making them a more accessible option.In the past few years, many managers have looked for an automated solution to replace security guards, but most have realized that camera surveillance and access control, along with guards, provide the best level security.If a guard is required to monitor the images from multiple cameras, managers can program a digital video recorder (DVRs) to sense movement and switch to the camera that monitors the area in which motion is detected.Pros, cons and concernsAs with any system, an integrated IP system comes with advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest concerns many managers have is whether the backbone of their network can handle the large increase in bandwidth required. But many managers realize that operational benefits of an integrated IP system can justify the investment to make sure the backbone can handle the added bandwidth. Another concern is data storage. Large hard drives are required to store the data from all system components . But as most industries are moving toward digital equipment, they also realize the need for larger hard drives.As the amount of data grows, managers have begun storing data offsite locations managed with companies specializing in data storage. This tactic might seem strange to managers who have used analog systems, which require information to be kept onsite.Some managers initially are wary about the cost of an integrated IP system, but they have become less apprehensive about its cost because of the operational savings it can provide. For new construction, the systems generally are not as cost-prohibitive as they would be for a renovation. Because it is more cost-prohibitive during a renovation, many companies come to a crossroads at which they must decide to upgrade an existing system or start over.Compared to IP cameras, analog cameras offer a variety of styles and are still most widely available. But IP cameras offer better images with higher resolution and more flexibility, allowing users to e-mail video images for consultation. In a large organization with many facilities, insurance companies often prefer, and in some cases demand, IP systems. It is not uncommon for them to expect the same level of security company-wide.
Design and maintenanceIf a manager decides to use an integrated IP system or is upgrading an existing one, a collective team of a security consultant and in-house engineering and maintenance departments should work together to ensure proper design and smooth installation. The established team should continue to work together to adjust the system as needed.Generally, organizations convene user meetings to discuss the system and its options. These meetings are mission-critical because without them, managers are left with a generic design and, perhaps, a poorly secured building. With these meetings, team members can configure the system in order to meet the specific security needs of the individual building.After the system is up and running, it is also easier to maintain. With hardwired systems of the past, if one portion of the system failed, the entire system could be in jeopardy. Much like an string of holiday lights with one bulb out, technicians first had to find the burned-out light, then replace it. Integrated IP systems have the ability to self-diagnose, which means they can tell the technician which part of the system has failed. Also, the rest of the system can continue running while a technician fixes the problem.For companies that are uncertain about which security system to use, a security assessment might help. The assessment gives the manager a detailed written report that takes into consideration many factors, such as building location, levels of crime and trends in security for similar facilities. This information will help the manager to determine the scope of the system needed.Ultimately, a security system should make employees and visitors feel safe and comfortable. For a company with facilities in many areas, each facility could have the same core system, but the components of that system should vary, depending upon the size and needs of each facility.

'Green building' concept catching on"

A green building typically applies practices like harvesting energy and water and using environment-friendly materials in its design, construction, operation and maintenance so as to maintain and sustain the environment.

The 'green building' concept is gradually gaining momentum in India. Already, there are five green buildings certified as per the rating system of LEED (Leadership in energy and environmental design), developed by the US Green Building Council. Around 25 other buildings in the country are now registered for such certification.
Prominent among them is an IT park, Technopolis in Kolkata, that is likely to be certified by LEED shortly. Also on the list are Hyderabad International Airport and Microsoft India Development Centre's third building on its Hyderabad campus that are being built as per the green building

The benefits of green buildings range from energy and water savings, to increased worker productivity, to overall environmental sustainability and conscientious use of local resources. Over a building’s lifetime, these benefits outweigh slightly higher average initial costs. Green buildings are gaining increased recognition, and a number of resources are now available for navigating permitting and construction procedures for green building.

Monday, July 28, 2008

3 Reasons to Install a Home Security System

Installing a Home Security System is a great way to provide extra protection for your home and family. It's not terribly expensive and it is a very effective deterrent to would-be thieves. This article is going to discuss three reasons why installing a home security system is a good idea.
1. Peace of mind.Your home is the one place on this planet that you should feel safest. When you get home after a long day and you go inside and close the door behind you, you should feel safe and secure and not have to worry about possible intruders. When you leave your house you should also feel that your valuables are safe. Having a good security system will go a long way to giving you this piece of mind.
2. Greatly reduce the chance of burglary.The reason a good home security system can provide that peace of mind is because they actually work. Homes that are protected by a home security system are three times less likely to be broken into than homes without security systems. Burglary is a crime of opportunity. Leave a window open or a door unlocked and you make it that much easier for a criminal to enter your house. A thief is always going to look for the easiest target. If your home is protected by a quality alarm System and your neighbors house is not it doesn't make sense for a criminal to even bother trying to get past your alarm system when it's so much easier to just hit the house next door.
3. Discount on homeowners insurance.Peace of mind and actually reducing the risk of being victimized by a burglar are probably the best reasons to install a home security system. But another good reason is because you may actually be eligible for a discount on your homeowners insurance premiums by installing a Intrusion Alarm Because having alarm system actually does work to deter thieves, your insurance company is less likely to have to pay out benefits because of damage caused by someone breaking into your house or to replace stolen personal property. Many insurance companies will actually give you a discount on your monthly premiums if you have an alarm system. Call your insurance company to inquire about such discounts.
These are just three reasons you may want to consider installing a home security system, there are many others. You can also equip your security system with things like carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors which can be life savers. If your security system includes a monitoring service that service will not only call the police in the event of a break-in but will also call the fire department in the event of a fire. If you're away from home and a fire breaks out a monitoring service could save your home from being completely destroyed. There are many good reasons for installing a home security system. It's a small investment that could pay off in a big way.

Trends in intelligent video analytics

Video sensory analysis is the key element in security applications, since the human observer finds it difficult to work with the increasing number of video channels without aids. New digital product and system concepts with intelligent video codecs, intelligent IP cameras and network video recorders allow the best possible coordination of system functionality with the operator and the surrounding environment. The efficiency of the security system is optimized by alarming, automatically flagging and indicating potentially risky situations with high-quality and reliable image analysis. The security personnel are thus relieved of a certain workload and can apply themselves fully to the situation displayed and make the necessary decisions.
For the trade press
Proactive security in the area of video applications means to anticipate incidents in order to initiate specific interventions beforehand. This requires intelligent video analysis procedures that permanently examine the available camera signals, without fatigue symptoms, for relevant objects and provide relief for the observer from the tide of information. An experiment in the USA showed that a human observer of two monitors with automatic image switching overlooked up to 45 percent of all activities in the scenes after 12 minutes. 22 minutes later it is already up to 95 percent. Therefore, the demand for intelligent image analysis in video-based security systems is continuously growing. A recent study of the English market research company IMS Research predicts a market growth from approx. 100 million US dollars to more than 800 million US dollars in 2010. This demand pull, and the trend toward completely digital video systems, require new product and solution concepts from manufacturers. Surrounding environment and process chain of videoIn the still-prevalent analog technology the video sensor is connected upstream as an independent device unit of the video matrix. This sensor unit analyses the available video signal and superimposes the analysis results routinely on the image, for example, through graphical framing. When the alarm conditions are fulfilled, a corresponding alarm signal (contact, serial telegram) is transmitted to the video matrix. The video matrix hereby forms the central control unit, which carries out the alarm processing in addition to the system topology administration. In the case of an alarm, corresponding image loading is carried out and, if required, video recording is started.With the undergoing paradigm change in the field of video security from the analog technology to digital technology, this process chain is now changing. In the digital world of video over IP, the previously separately implemented device concepts are increasingly merging into the so-called intelligent video codecs (Siemens Sistore CX line). The distinguishing feature of this device type is that it digitizes the incoming video signals in real time and ideally compresses them into the MPEG-4 format. Based on the digitized data, sensory analysis (image analysis), storage (locally on an internal hard disk or on the network recorder) and further distribution (video streaming over the network) are integrated in a single device. Through the integration of these three disciplines in a single device unit, it is now possible to adjust the available processing performance of the device ideally to the particular application by "dosing" the individual disciplines accordingly (configuration of the image rate and image resolution for each discipline), with which in turn an ideal price/performance ratio is achieved.As a result of the progressive change, digital technology will be integrated at ever higher levels and shifted further into the field level. IP cameras are therefore becoming increasingly more powerful and able to perform ever more complex image processing routines. The camera thus becomes a highly integrated video sensor. Furthermore, network video recorders (NVR) are becoming increasingly effective and are able not only to carry out intelligent searches in stored image data, but can also evaluate data streams of IP cameras in real time (NOOSE – Network of optical Sensors). Structure of video sensors In line with the digital change, the inner construction of the sensors is also changing. Instead of what was so far sensory analysis working with special hardware configurations (PLCs such as FPGA can only carry out simple arithmetic operations and are complicated to program), there are now powerful digital signal processors (DSPs) that can execute considerably more demanding software algorithms. These DSPs today form the processing core of intelligent video codecs. In combination with an embedded host processor for general administration, storage and networking tasks, this core shares the work. Today, such hybrid architecture can be configured and manufactured as a very compact solution.Besides this, there are also PC-based video sensor systems that perform safety-relevant tasks and carry out the image processing via so-called frame grabbing cards or the IP streaming signal. As a result of high PC clock speeds of 3 GHz and more, it is today possible to achieve a very good performance in image processing with PCs. Particularly with highly specialized algorithms or in the university sector, this platform allows for quick implementations. Unfortunately, the life cycles of the PC-based systems are rather short, so that the availability and serviceability necessary in the video product and system business prove to be problematic.This situation reinforces the trend in the direction of highly integrated video codecs, which, with specialized signal processors and a structure optimized for media applications (low clock speeds ~300 MHz up to 1 GHz), achieve at least the same processing power as PCs. An essential advantage is the typical low power loss of <10 watt/channel of a DSP-based codec system, compared to that of a PC-based system (50-100 W/channel power loss), since with the same image resolution, image rate and processing complexity, a PC can rarely process more than 4-8 channels. As for the further development in the evolution of signal processors, it is predicted that apart from the hardware acceleration of the MPEG video compression, already realized in some processors, chips will also be available with prefabricated image analysis algorithms in future. Applications for video sensory analysis As far as the currently available video sensors and those that will be available in the near future are concerned, there is no universal algorithm in image processing to cover the entire range of application of video analysis (for example, character recognition, face recognition, object tracking, smoke detection). Nonetheless, good results are achieved if the areas of application are defined and outlined prior to the development of video sensors. The scene to be observed is typically described by a set of basic assumptions. For security applications, it is always assumed that the cameras are permanently installed as a preset version or with pan-tilt zoom. Application scenarios can be divided roughly into a group of inanimate or animated scenes. In the case of inanimate scenes, it is a matter of conventional enclosure, open space or facade monitoring for perimeter protection. Generally, the assumption here is that it concerns statistically rare events in a well-known scene and that the object to be detected behaves most "uncooperatively" and camouflages itself. However, it is especially important for this application to avoid unwanted alarms, since frequent false alarms reduce the confidence in the system and hence jeopardize the entire security. Such applications are encountered in penitentiaries, power plants, refineries or industrial premises and must fulfill the following requirements.
Detection of moving objects in front of a familiar background
High sensitivity for the detection of camouflaged objects
Quick detection (<1s) of an alarm situation
Distinction between objects by means of object size and speed
Classification of objects by means of the movement pattern (insects in front of the camera, birds, loitering)
Detection of attempts to sabotage the camera (defocusing, rotating, spraying, covering)
In perimeter protection applications, industrial estates or public buildings increasingly tend to be designed more openly. We can observe a trend toward flexible monitoring methods of building exteriors, facades, windows, entries and exits and away from static facilities such as fences. In animated scenes, such as on tracks or in visitor halls, it may be a well-known scene but it is permanently masked by moving objects. Here it is necessary to either reliably detect a change in the background (objects left behind, objects that are removed without authorization) or to extrapolate key statistic data or behavior patterns from the mass of objects moving in the foreground (density of people, people counts, people's behavior). Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras Normally, video sensory analysis for Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras is used to support the operator with automatic camera control rather than to trigger alarms. For this application, objects that are either manually selected by the operator (click and track) or detected by a second sensor camera are automatically tracked. In the latter case, the coordinates of the objects are passed to the upstream "tracking sensory analysis" of the PTZ camera for further object tracking. By not having to load the particular PTZ or dome camera and to track the object manually, the process of monitoring is more efficiently configured for the operator. The operator still needs to choose an object or to acknowledge the tracking. Through appropriate positioning of additional PTZ cameras, the object is automatically passed to the subsequent camera for further tracking as soon as it leaves the range of view of a camera.However, when using PTZ cameras in combination with digital technology, completely new applications in the detection sector arise. Through the pivoting range, the entire surroundings can be scanned with a PTZ camera and merged to a single picture, a kind of panoramic image. Again, by periodically repeating this procedure it is possible to detect image variations and track objects.Real-time analysis or archive searchFor some video-based applications, it is not possible to define alarm criteria beforehand. During warehouse monitoring, processes are thus digitally recorded over a long period of time. Using an off-line video sensor function, the stored video data is then analyzed to search for stolen goods. Again, the efficiency is the user's primary objective. He still needs to define the type and the area of the analysis. By means of sensory analysis, all relevant events are automatically detected and the review of long video sequences is avoided. The choice between using sensory analysis for real-time events or for subsequent off-line searching in video archives mainly impacts the algorithms' required speed of operation. In real-time operation, the processing must be carried out within a period of 40 ms per image, in order to keep up with the incoming stream of video data. When searching video archives, this limit does not apply. Instead, the procedures are expected to operate distinctly faster than analyzing by hand. As with Sistore CX, smart search functions are executed approx. 50 times faster than manual searches.In future, even more effective options for searching in image archives will be available. During image recording, the images are preprocessed in real-time and the analysis data is archived to the image data in the form of metadata (for example, in MPEG-7 format). An indexing of relevant image contents is thereby performed. Intelligent IP cameras could add meta information (movement vectors, shape, color) for all detected objects to the video data online. A subsequent search for events or objects is put down to a metadata filtering (MPEG-7), without having to perform an extensive analysis.Pattern recognition and verificationIn addition to the classic usage of video sensors for security applications, there are a number of applications from the automation area. Examples include pattern recognition (object characteristics such as number plates, dangerous goods signs, container inscription) or image analysis procedures in the area of biometry (face localization; face, iris or finger print recognition). Contrary to the conventional security applications, the object to be detected is assumed to be cooperative. For such applications an action is usually released in favor of the object by means of video verification, for example, the approach of an automobile with authorized plates.Functionality of video sensorsToday, advanced sensors such as Sistore CX are able to real-time process images accurate to a pixel. Typically, work is performed with a so-called CIF resolution (Common Intermediate Format) of 352x288 pixels. With this more than 100,000 pixels are processed in real-time (40ms). Depending on the available processing power and the desired image rate for the evaluation, higher resolution images also can be processed. In the context of digital change, mega pixel resolution is increasingly used.Until now video sensors have typically been operated according to the principle of differential image processing. With this procedure the gray tones of two sequential video images are subtracted from each other and all static image portions (background) are removed from the image. All moving objects generate a measurable difference, predominantly at the outer edge of the objects. The attained "signal strength" is highly dependent on the image rate of the evaluation (~25 images/s) and the speed of the object. The faster the object moves, the higher the signal strength of the change is. To detect slow objects as well, a greater sensitivity must be set for the sensor, with which it is easier for disturbances or small, fast objects to trigger a false alarm.With procedures as used with Sistore CX EDS for example, not only the difference of two pictures is computed and referred to for the analysis. The higher capability of the video processors is possible with the use of the statistic procedures, which analyze the complete screen sequence image by image over a longer period of time. With this analysis, the sensor achieves an impression of the "normal status" of the scene and adapts to the background. The image to image difference is thereby no longer determined but the current image to background difference. Foreground objects are thereby extracted as a compact whole and no longer only the object borders. This approach offers a series of advantages in comparison to the differential image procedures:
A basic sensitivity for the respective scene is still configured. However, for the object detection the algorithm determines an individual, optimal threshold value for each individual pixel. With this, a reliable detection is possible, independent of the contrast conditions and the brightness distribution over the whole image, also in the range of brightness transitions.
The statistical analysis proceeds continuously during operation, i.e. the algorithm permanently optimizes its working point and adapts to the respective scene conditions (lighting changes, automobile headlights, lightning, weather changes) and camera or signal noise is automatically compensated.
The sensor sensitivity is independent of the object speed. Objects are always detected compactly as a whole, not just the object border, whereby the basic sensitivity can get lower, and the sensor adapts to the contrast conditions prevailing in the scene.
This results in a reliable detection of objects with very few false alarms.
In comparison to differential image procedures, this type of algorithmic process offers more application options such as motion detection and object tracking, detection of objects left behind or removed as well as the detection of sabotage attempts. Furthermore, typical movement patterns of objects (loitering or grouping of persons, insects, birds or flying leaves in front of the camera, snow or strong rain, classification of objects, for example, into vehicles and persons) can be derived from the information of object tracking (trajectory). Overall, these processes offer a very robust and reliable type of object detection with video sensory analysis in the professional security sector. ConfigurationNot only the functioning has improved, but also the configuration, the adjustment of the video sensor, has been strongly simplified. It has been possible to strongly reduce the steps for modeling the scene geometry and the number of necessary basic parameters, resulting in increased detection reliability. Thus perspective conditions of an area in horizontal and vertical planes are modeled for open spaces and facades (figure). In addition sensor elements such as static and dynamic virtual trip wires can be placed freely in the image (figure). As basic parameters, only a few, easily understandable values for the fine-tuning adjustment of the algorithm to the respective scene are necessary (adaptation speed for the background changes, basic sensor sensitivity, minimum object size to be detected, maximum allowed object speed).Disturbance impacts and undesired signalsDespite all the progress in video technology, there is no sensor system without unwanted signals. It is important that the user is aware of this and prepares for it accordingly. With video analysis, as with visual evaluation of an image, the real alarm detection rate and the false alarm detection rate are always negatively mutually dependent. The higher demanded sensitivity or tolerance should be in comparison to incomplete or rushed objects in not always the best environment, the greater is the chance of unwanted messages due to similarity with other objects or visually similar effects. A certain detection reliability is always dependent on a minimum false alarm rate. Essentially, video sensory analysis can only function optimally if the camera is operated in the "linear area" of the image recorder. That involves a scene lighting, which neither introduces overloading (glare) or underexposure in the image. Both cases increase the possibility of an unwanted message. The latest processes are also subject to the fundamental laws of the optics. Some disturbance can, however, be suppressed considerably better today with the statistical analysis of screen sequences. This includes global changes of light, light beams and cast shadow, cloud-drift, image noise as well as rain or snow. Outlook and further developmentThe trends of integration and miniaturization will proceed further. Soon intelligent cameras will be brought into action featuring similar processing powers for video sensory analysis as are only offered by intelligent video codecs today. In future, we can expect CMOS image recording sensors which will be able to carry out preprocessing of the video data in parallel with image formation.In a network of sensors and the three dimensional detection skills, new requirements arise for management systems. The object co-ordinates can, for example, be superimposed into site plans as dynamic icons, so that the movement pattern of an object can be easily followed on a site plan. Similar objects are thereby displayed on the site plan with the same icons. For example, objects classified as "good" without hesitation are shown up in green, while alarm-relevant objects classified as "bad" are shown up in red. Critical objects are shown up in yellow, before they trigger the alarm.In the current advanced state of algorithmics, objects are still defined through accumulation and clustering of individually detected "foreground pixels". As the next challenge, it is necessary to consider the neighbor relationship of the object's pixels when using the video sensory analysis. For this, not only the isolated individual pixels are analyzed for each pixel but also the surrounding pixels. From this environment, relative structural characteristics can be derived using image processing routines and generate so-called "characteristic vectors" from a number of characteristics. Thus, not only one 8-bit gray tone for each pixel must be evaluated but a complete set of values, depending on the environment considered, 9, 25 or even more values, whereby the required processing power of the sensor is strongly increasing.On the basis of these characteristic vectors, such typical objects as persons, dogs, cars or cyclists can already be learnt as a whole, in the development phase. For the in-field analysis with the sensor, the algorithm assigns every pixel the classes of the learned objects and can directly identify the objects learnt earlier. Thereby, static objects or objects in still images can be identified and overlapping objects can be separated. Even shadows cast from objects cannot affect the analysis.Today, these and similar new technologies are being researched in the academic field, for example when counting persons in highly animated scenes, where objects strongly overlap. The aim is to move stepwise from pure pixel processing toward picture understanding. At Building Technologies, 1,400 persons work on the research and development of innovative products. They are able to exchange information with 60,000 experts from 30 countries within the company. The main focus of innovation is found in the classical areas of control, regulation, sensory analysis and actuator technology and is always supplemented by system engineering, communications technology and human-machine interface technology for servicing and observing total building automation solutions.(Case 1)Advantages of intelligent codecs:
Integration of 3 device types in a single unit:Local storage of the video data - DVR function
High component density of 2-4 channels - per 19" height unit
Low power consumption, <10 W / channel (+ HDD power consumption)
Very good scalability – 1/4/8 channel units
Central and decentralized concepts realizable over LAN
Easy maintenance by operation software on flash ROM
High IT security via embedded OS (operating system)
High operation reliability with temperature management, protection from corrosion
High fail-safe characteristic