Surveillance by remote control
Mar 1, 1998 12:00 PM
What do employee safety, internal shrinkage, quality control, securing high-risk locations, the reduced use of guards, and false alarms have in common? They are all factors contributing to the growing use of remote video surveillance, which is broadly defined as a means of accessing live or stored video from CCTV systems located in remote sites. In Access Control & Security Systems Integration's 1997 State of Security Systems Integration report, 69 percent of security directors said their systems include remote video surveillance. When the responses were broken down by industry, the survey found banking and financial institutions to have the highest use of remote surveillance, 88.6 percent, followed by retail, 80.8 percent; utility companies, 80.6 percent; gaming, 75.7 percent; and restaurants, 75 percent.
Technology advancements The ability to carry inexpensive live video and audio over a phone line from a remote location to a central site has had a direct and substantial impact on security costs, safety and management productivity. Today, technology is available to enable video transmission over a range of communications networks including PSTN (standard phone lines), ISDN, frame relay, Ethernet, satellite and cellular/wireless links. Some newer systems go beyond passive surveillance to provide interactive control of video, audio, alarm, access control and point of sale. The infrastructure draws from various industries: CCTV, telecommunications, information systems and alarm systems.
Some predictions More companies will rush into the marketplace as demand grows for remote monitoring systems. New products will continue flowing into the market, and existing products will evolve as technologies continue to improve. Increasing competition and growing volume will bring falling prices and slimming profit margins. While revenues will grow six- to seven-fold, unit shipments will increase 14 times, according to interviews with manufacturers.
Features of remote video surveillance Remote video surveillance can enhance the remote control of integrated systems. Features include: n Video capture, transmission and display. n Remote video storage at the transmitter that can be engaged by the viewer on demand or automatically to capture high-quality, full frames at up to 30 frames per second. n Pre-alarm storage that allows an alarm to trigger the storage of video leading up to a crime as well as live video of the crime in progress. Stored video can be viewed over transmission lines or transferred as a file to the central site.
* Remote devices that can be activated on-line including lights, gates, doors, pan/tilt/zoom cameras and alarms.
* Audio that can be used to listen in or communicate in two-way mode.
* PC-based software control.
* Non-proprietary open architecture design.
Benefits of remote video surveillance Here is how remote video surveillance benefits the end-user.
* Integration. Video is more effectively integrated with overall security operations. The reduced data rate supports better collaboration between security command centers and foot patrols. Alerts and video segments showing the events of interest can be forwarded directly to field personnel, where they are needed most.
* Remote guard touring. Remote tours work as a complement to or replacement for live guards. In using a video guard tour, the system automatically dials up remote sites to check their status. Typical sites include bank ATM vestibules, school exteriors and interiors, public utility locations, car dealerships and other public areas. In adverse situations, a remote light and/or horn can be turned on, and the operator can announce that police are on the way.
* Remote facility management. In remote facility management, the remote site is dialed in on demand for monitoring purposes. You can select different cameras and listen to audio. With a pan/tilt/zoom camera, employee and customer actions can be monitored and tracked. If a particular activity is worth recording, the hard drive at the remote can be engaged to capture video.
* Access control. Using remote video and access controls, an operator at a remote monitoring station can authorize entry and control locks.
* Automatic event recording. Automatic event recording uses the remote site as a digital recorder, like a VCR. The system is constantly storing video and monitoring actions, such as point-of-sale transactions. If a particular incident occurs that must be researched in the recorded video, the file corresponding to the time of the event can be retrieved.
Where to find remote surveillance technology Vendors of the technology are a mix of a few dedicated companies involved in design and manufacture of systems and a large number of vendors focusing on specific product lines or vertical markets. Many security companies specializing in integrated systems offer remote video surveillance software as a complement to fully integrated security systems. Companies that provide remote video surveillance systems, equipment or monitoring services include: Advanced Information Technology Alpha Systems Lab Axis Communications Dedicated Micros DSC/Sur-Gard Extreme Video Gyyr, an Odetics Co. Paragon Imaging Presearch Inc. Prism Video Panasonic Video Imaging Systems Co. Pinkerton Sensormatic/Robot Research Shepherd Surveillance Inc. Telesite USA Telexis TVX Ultrak Westec Interactive