Taking Advantage of Video’s Versatility

Only someone living under a rock the past couple of years would not have noticed the increased activity in modern security CCTV applications. I would go so far to say that the progress of security video is, or shortly will be, evolutionary in the security industry.

This evolutionary technology movement reminds me much of a similar era and very exciting area: the introduction of the digital dialer in the early 1970s. When digital dialers came out it was like the wild west of alarm systems. It allowed dealers to provide inexpensive communications almost anywhere there was a POTS (plain old telephone service) line, and a means to generate RMR (recurring monthly revenue). RMR, as everyone knows, became the lifeblood of the security industry.

Now, the same is happening with new video technologies. Soon, older, blind alarm signals will commonly be replaced with fast and reliable video records of all types of alarm activity. Today’s video cameras can intelligently detect intruder or suspicious motion, even smoke and fire, and relay that information to the central station. Further, that info can be directed to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) dispatch station, squad car, foot patrol, and end user via the Internet, IP networks and GSM modems.

While many professionals are seeing considerable economic downtown in their respective service and products industry, security application areas such as alarm verification via video, video analytics, wireless video and mobile video portability are defying this trend. These video products and services are becoming less costly and more versatile, leading to a win-win situation for many in the security industry. 

Monitor Video Almost Anywhere

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a wireless motion-sensing camera that could easily be placed anywhere, either inside a facility or, better yet, outside in a truck yard, construction site, etc.? That product is available by one manufacturer leading the way in video monitoring technology, RSI Videofied.

I have watched this vendor through the years and have been impressed with the way it constantly overcomes technical challenges such as bad environment operation, battery life and wireless cellular communications. This manufacturer also reminds us that the intent of its product’s video is mainly for verification of intruder presence, not detailed identification of the perpetrator, such as a face. This allows for very low bandwidth and considerable versatility communicating video over POTS lines.

If you wish to further investigate alarm video verification, I have two good sources for you. The first is a collection of actual video verification clips that can be found at the Electronic Security Association (formerly NBFAA) site at www.alarm.org/videotech. Another is a white paper prepared by the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) on video verification.

Set Stage for Realistic Expectations

Make sure your customers are always aware of the limitations of the particular camera application. This can be a double-edged sword in that identifying system performance expectations as being unrealistic may initially disappoint your prospect. On the other hand, this should be an upsell opportunity for any good salesman.

I have seen too many situations in which the customer is very disappointed when crime scene footage is collected for the first time, and images of the holdup suspect are not clear enough for identification. Educate your prospect and customer on the reality of security video imaging before evidence is needed. And then sell more cameras to cover different angles.

Now that we have so many types of camera configurations, one must remember some basic camera fundamentals. What do you want that camera to do for you? Do you want the camera to detect or monitor human activity; recognize or identify a person? It can all be determined by how much of the monitor screen your subject occupies. Here are some guidelines:

Detection — In this case a figure occupies at least 5 percent of the monitor screen height. This would allow you to monitor traffic, but people cannot be recognized.

Monitor — The person would occupy about 10 percent of the monitor screen height. A good application would be motion detection. You should be able to detect the number, direction and speed of the subject. In this case, people still cannot be clearly recognized.

Recognize — The subject now fills 50 percent of the monitor screen height. Images can be cross-referenced for identification.

Identify — The subject now fills 120 percent of the monitor frame. The picture quality and detail is enough to enable identification and good court room evidence. 

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