Now that high definition (HD) megapixel technology has gone mainstream, people in a wide variety of fields are finding that the crystal-clear images produced by these cameras can be used for an amazing range of applications beyond security.
It seems the use of megapixel cameras outside of security is limited only by one’s imagination. Artists, educators, scientists and practitioners from various other fields are leveraging the HD images and footage to advance their work. They turn on their megapixel cameras for weeks, months, even years at a time to share those images and assist them to do their jobs better or offer services and discoveries previously unheard of.
What follows are some of the more imaginative, quirky and effective applications that demonstrate the power and effectiveness of this technology for uses well outside of security. It also represents the potential for new business opportunities for installing security contractors.
HD Recording at Glacial Pace
Located in the Arctic near the northernmost part of Norway, the Hansbreen glacier has been studied for years by scientists who are conducting global climate research. The earth science faculty at Poland’s Silesian University has deployed megapixel cameras to support the critical research, including monitoring and recording ice calving, which is the sudden release and breaking away of a mass of ice from a glacier.
Using various instruments, devices and techniques to monitor changes to the glacier, the scientists are gathering important information about global climate changes and trends. A few years ago, research staff decided to take advantage of the capabilities of megapixel IP cameras to record changes to the Hansbreen tongue or its terminus.
“At the beginning of the research we tried to use analog cameras, but the severe climate badly affected the mechanical elements,” says Leszek Kolondra, a research faculty member of Silesian University.
The failure of analog CCTV cameras sent the research team in search of high-performance cameras that were also robust and stable. The university decided to deploy megapixel cameras designed to meet the project’s demands and to work 24/7 with onboard solid-state recording.
Glacier observation and recording began during the arctic daytime, when the average temperature is around 37° F. Two cameras were placed 220 meters from each other and 200 meters above sea level. Each camera is charged with a 50Ah battery linked to solar cells, and during the polar day they worked perfectly. Because the glacier doesn’t move very rapidly, cameras were set to take one picture per hour.
Utilizing megapixel technology in the harsh conditions allowed scientists for the first time to record the phenomena of sub-glacial water flowing out to sea. These high-quality images, together with other meteorological and seismic data, are giving scientists the ability to define the glacier response to higher melting demonstrated by intensity of outflow of the sub-glacier rivers.
Preserving an American Icon
The National Bald Eagle Center, in Wabasha, Minn., is an organization operated by like-minded people who realize that our nation’s symbol and its habitat deserve and need vigilant stewardship.
Launched as a grassroots effort, the center has grown to become America’s acknowledged authority on eagles, boasting a distinctive, 15,000-square-foot interpretive center on the banks of the Mississippi River. The center is home to four permanently injured, rehabilitated bald eagles and one golden eagle.
Grant Jensen, a local systems integrator, donated his time to install five megapixel cameras so that viewers can observe in real-time the daily habits and care of the rehabilitated eagles that live in the center. Four of the cameras are positioned to cover the perched eagles while another unit can broadcast to classroom presentations.
“The Eagle cam project is a vital way for the Eagle Center to expand making its resources available to everyone with the intention to include even those unable to travel to Wabasha to visit our facilities,” says Jeff Worrell, executive director of the center. “The classroom camera will allow people to audit lectures, demonstrations and other activities remotely so that they can experience the National Eagle Center firsthand.”
Ridding Illegal Dumping
Many communities are plagued by illegal dumping on city streets, alleys, vacant lots — anywhere someone with unwanted junk can find a spot to dispose of it without paying a fee. In addition to the visual blight on a community, the major expense of cleaning up all that illegally dumped material is burdensome on strapped city budgets.
When Tim Dame, an investigator for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), was sent to Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood to inspect an incident, a local resident approached him. The woman wanted to know what could be done about a large, unsightly pile of construction debris and appliances dumped right next to her yard. Just like broken windows that stay broken and invite more vandalism, piles of illegally dumped materials only attract more of the same.
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