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News

Remote surveillance in cities gathers evidential-standard video images

IndigoVision : 08 October, 2010  (Technical Article)
Oliver Vellacott, CEO of IndigoVision, describes how IP Video is offering local government unique solutions to city centre surveillance.
The growing threat from crime and terrorism and the need to ensure public safety and manage traffic has led to a demand for high-quality surveillance. Video security monitoring needs to be flexible, scalable and future-proof, with the capability of easily expanding to accommodate the ever changing urban environment of the city centre. Digital IP-networked video provides a unique set of tools for solving today's surveillance applications. This is particularly true for the demanding security environment of city centres, where IP Video is delivering security solutions that are not technically possible or economically viable with traditional analogue surveillance systems. The many features and benefits that IP Video provides city centre monitoring can be best highlighted by looking at a number of field-proven case studies.

Distributed Architecture - City of Calgary, Canada

IP Video technology is at the heart of a ground-breaking 'Data Warehousing' and distributed surveillance system for the City of Calgary, Canada. Data streams from the city's different operations are integrated into a centralised Oracle database. This powerful tool allows the city authority to analyse an amazing array of data. For example, for any area of the city a map can be pulled up showing crime statistics, including the number of crimes, what kind of incident it was and any associated video clips that have been imported from the IP Video system.

When Owen Key, the City's Chief Security Officer and Manager of Corporate Security joined 5 years ago he was faced with an unmanageable surveillance system. As he explains, networking was the solution. "The city had many 'islands' of video from disparate inaccessible analogue systems. As most of the metropolitan area is managed centrally, we soon realised that a distributed networked environment was the only answer. Excellent IP Video compression technology has allowed us to realise this vision and is one of the key factors in achieving the system we have today."

Calgary is the largest city in the Province of Alberta and, unlike most cities, the municipality manages all aspects of the City with over 700 sites spread across 5,000 Km2. Nearly 550 PTZ and fixed cameras have been connected to the network, many retained from the original analogue systems. The IP Video system now monitors 30 different departments around the city, including parks and recreation, transit centres, water utilities, fire, emergency response, road crews and parking authority. The city has also developed three mobile security vehicles, which are equipped with laptops that can access live or recorded surveillance video from any camera over the 3G mobile network.

In addition to the main Command Center the city has workstations located in many different departments with currently over 150 different users. It's the non-centralised architecture of the IP Video system that allows video management workstations to be distributed around the network. Network Video Recorders (NVRs) are also distributed around the edge of the network close to the cameras, to reduce bandwidth. Dual streaming is used on many cameras allowing 15fps video to be streamed across the WAN and full framerate 30fps video to be locally recorded. A 14 day archive of all video is maintained.

Remote Wireless Monitoring - Chihuahua State, Mexico

Chihuahua State in Northern Mexico has deployed a wide-area wireless surveillance system based on IP Video technology. Covering nearly 250,000 Km2, Chihuahua is the largest of Mexico's states. Its capital and largest city has the same name, Chihuahua and it includes the other major cities of Delicias, Cuauhtemoc, Parral, Nuevo Casas Grandes, Camargo, Creel, Meoqui and Jimenez. The truly distributed nature of the system allows an operator in the state capital to view video from any other city in the region from a PTZ camera that they can control.

Over 270 cameras have been installed across the region. The systems in each city are deployed using wireless networks, with each city connected to the state capital via fixed network links. The excellent compression technology delivered by the IP Video system enables evidential quality video to be streamed across standard IP networks over enormous distances with a minimal bandwidth requirement. This allows wireless networks to be easily deployed and latency kept to a minimum, enabling operators to smoothly control PTZ cameras in one city from another city across the state. It is important for different agencies and authorities to access live and recorded video from the cameras relevant to their operation, no matter where they are located. This can only be achieved with a de-centralised distributed system.

Another key benefit for the Chihuahua State authorities was the implementation of multicast network technology. IP Multicasting is an extremely powerful feature that allows video from the same camera to be efficiently viewed and recorded by multiple operators at the same time, with the same network bandwidth requirement as would be for a single operator. This coupled with the advanced compression technology ensures available bandwidth is maximised, which is particularly important when deploying wireless networks and for areas with a less developed communication infrastructure.

Integration - CyberJaya City, Malaysia

Cyberjaya has become the first Malaysian township to deploy a system that allows local police to remotely monitor the location of an incident, immediately after receiving an emergency call. This is achieved by interfacing the IP Video solution with the Malaysian Emergency Response Service (MERS) 999 system, which is part of the recently commissioned integrated surveillance system.

The ability for the police to assess a situation immediately and provide a fast response deters criminals and allows the authorities to provide the correct assistance for victims following an incident. Being able to check on the scene of an emergency also means that the police can identify nuisance calls. This improves efficiency and ensures resources are directed to dealing with actual emergencies.

Thirty IP PTZ vandal-proof domes were installed at various high traffic and populated areas around the town. Loudspeakers were also fitted alongside many of the cameras allowing control room operators to broadcast warning or help messages using an integrated intercom system.

In the central control room operators use video management workstations to view live camera feeds and analyse recorded video. When an emergency call is received, its location is displayed on the main GIS Map. The operator then displays the nearest camera and remotely controls its PTZ movement to view the incident.

Hybrid Systems & Migration - Hong Kong Traffic

IP Video technology has been used to extend the capabilities of Hong Kong's extensive traffic surveillance system. The existing analogue system was expanded with the addition of 48 cameras using IP Video, creating a fully integrated 250 camera hybrid solution. The introduction of an IP-based distributed network provides a platform for full migration to IP Video in the future.

The migration project involved the development of bespoke software to create an integrated 'front end' for both the existing analogue system and the IP Video. This was interfaced with the IP Video management software, which provides powerful virtual matrix switching features, alarm handling and video analysis tools.

Like many large analogue systems, Hong Kong's surveillance consisted of a number of isolated video control rooms which were not interconnected to form a single centrally monitored system. The IP Video solution has created a fully scalable and distributed solution that will allow the future integration of these remote control rooms into one unified system, allowing Hong Kong's Traffic Police to centrally manage and control the region's traffic problems.

Plans are in place to expand the system to over 700 cameras. The first phase of this expansion has been completed with the addition of a 48 camera IP-based system to monitor the northern district of the city, which was previously not monitored. This region is close to the Chinese border and has significant traffic problems caused by 2 million people a day making cross-border journeys. Even though the new extension to the system is predominantly for traffic surveillance the police also use it for monitoring public events in the area. This demonstrates how easily additional monitoring can be integrated into the new system - something that would have been too costly with analogue equipment.

Mobile Surveillance - City of Lansing, MI, USA

A distributed IP Video solution forms the basis of a revolutionary surveillance system that has had a major impact on the policing of the City of Lansing, Michigan's State Capital. Embracing IP Video technology has allowed the Police Department to develop a fully integrated Public Video Surveillance System (PVS) that has a vast reach across the city.

Both 911 dispatchers and police vehicles use video management software to access live and recorded video. The Police Department's 60 vehicles each have a laptop with high speed broadband 3G technology that allows officers to view and control any camera in the system.

Having access to live video is a major benefit for the 911 emergency dispatchers, allowing them to respond more effectively to incidents. For example, following a call about a fight, the dispatcher can view the nearest camera and see how many people are involved and whether weapons are being used. This allows the response to be more tailored to the incident.

The class-leading compression technology delivered by the IP Video system is behind much of what Lansing has achieved with its surveillance operation. The ability to deliver very high quality video with low bandwidth requirement allows camera footage to be efficiently streamed across various network technologies including ShDSL, fibre, mesh wireless and mobile 3G broadband.

Emergency Kiosks - Penang Island, Malaysia

Complete end-to-end IP Video technology is behind an integrated public safety system on Penang Island, the most populated of Malaysia's islands. Its capital, Georgetown, attracts many tourists and, as with other city centres around the world, it faces a complex security environment, including criminal activity and traffic issues.

The surveillance project consists of 31 PTZ dome cameras connected via a wireless IP network monitoring the whole of the Georgetown area. The cameras are focused on crime and traffic hot spots such as tourist areas, banks, petrol stations, traffic intersections and commercial centres.

The flexibility and powerful integration features of the IP Video solution allowed a number of Emergency Kiosks to be installed in tourist areas. Using a transmitter/receiver module, which can transmit high-quality video and audio as well as digital input/output, a standalone video intercom solution for the kiosks was developed. When a member of the public activates the emergency button, two-way communication is opened up with one of the control room operators via a hidden microphone and camera in the kiosk. The intercom video from the kiosk automatically displays on a video management workstation and the nearest PTZ is panned and zoomed to the kiosk area. This is all achieved over the wireless network. The only cabling required is power to each of the kiosks. The PTZ domes are also connected to transmitter modules and the audio capability is used to provide public announcement facilities through speakers mounted with each camera.

Re-Deployable Cameras - Swindon, UK

IP Video technology is providing a unique re-deployable surveillance system for Swindon town centre. The system is operated by the Swindon Town Centre Management Team which assists the police and other partners in reducing anti-social behaviour, shop theft and other criminal activity. Like many towns, their previous system did not provide surveillance of the more remote areas to which crime often migrated in order to avoid the cameras - a problem that the Swindon Team were keen to solve.

The solution was to develop a re-deployable camera system using wireless IP

Video management software allows simultaneous viewing and recording of images from any of the re-deployable cameras. Video from the strategically deployed cameras is transmitted wirelessly via line-of-sight and a number of relay base stations, back to the control room. This allows the cameras to be re-deployed between base stations without re-configuration.

The vandal-proof camera housings were developed especially for this project and contain a camera, a video transmitter unit, wireless transmitter and power supply and an optional heavy duty rechargeable battery so the cameras can be deployed in locations without local power supplies.

The overriding feature of all these case studies is the wide areas over which the systems are deployed. Cost effective and reliable surveillance in these situations can only really be achieved using a distributed IP Video solution. The case studies show that IP Video can be integrated with other security systems and co-exist with legacy systems to provide a simple migration path for the future, an important benefit for end users considering an IP Video solution.
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