Always More to be Done
Government building are extremely sensitive sites that demand the best security.
- By Brian Leland
- Apr 01, 2010
The rule of thumb in protecting government facilities is simple—any application with a large coverage area is a candidate for a
video surveillance system, and that includes the perimeter. Since
most government facilities have limited manpower for security-related
tasks, with video surveillance systems, only a few people
are needed to watch over areas that would be virtually impossible
to patrol with 100-percent effectiveness.
As a result, governments are massive purchasers of video surveillance systems
and equipment. A single order from a state or municipal government can include
hundreds of cameras.
One of the advantages of working with government customers is that most
of them are already familiar with video. According to the organizers of the Government
Video Expo Show and Conference, government video—not just surveillance—is a $9.4 billion market. Homeland Security Research, a market research
company, predicts that homeland security industry spending will grow to $170
billion per year by 2015.
Selling to the Application
So, what constitutes a government building, and what kind of surveillance equipment
is the government buying? When selling to commissaries and PXs, integrators
have a classic retail sale. A state prison, for example, needs high-end perimeter
protection. Surveillance is extremely important for preventing inmate misconduct
and ensuring the safe transport of prisoners while keeping guards safe. Government
hospitals need a healthcare solution, just like any private medical institution.
Courthouse surveillance is needed to help discourage incidents from happening in
the first place.
In other words, integrators don't sell to the government; they sell to the application,
which happens to be in the government sector.
Depending on the application, government building customers can use every
surveillance technology an integrator has—from simple plastic-housed indoor
dome cameras to those that provide IP-66 weather resistance, zoom to 320x, day/
night capabilities and wide dynamic range to yield clear images in all conditions.
Government sales can be a long and time-consuming process because of the bidding stage. Not only do integrators
have to thoroughly know the products,
but they also need to be diligent. They
need to ensure that benefits, such as a
10-minute installation time, are mentioned
in the correct category. They
must know how to offer superior efficiency by mixing and matching the
proper cameras with the right storage
options within the proposed line.
Are government sales worth it
to integrators? Take, for example, a
20-square-mile city with 250,000 people
that needs a city-wide surveillance
network. The city will require hundreds
of cameras and DVRs for the project.
Governments are good business, and
working with them can be profitable.
By offering the right manufacturer's
products, integrators can provide systems
that are user friendly for their government
client while saving installation
time and money.
The Government Building Customer
A system that watches over the perimeter
of a military base is becoming
common in many government installations.
Mounted on 30- to 50-foot poles
surrounding a base, the cameras transmit
video via microwave to a master
control, which is monitored 24 hours a
day. The cameras switch automatically
between a color mode for daytime and
a more sensitive monochrome mode for
nighttime viewing, providing 24-hour
coverage in all lighting conditions. This
setup eliminates the need for separate
daytime and nighttime cameras, their
enclosures and lighting sources, greatly
reducing equipment, installation and
Several cities in Colombia are already
using a similar system with more
than 450 Samsung dome cameras deployed
through a full wireless network
IP solution, plus 50 domes for maintenance
and upgrade purposes. Specifications for the camera were stringent.
The cameras needed to provide super
high resolution, an IP-66 outdoor
housing, full continuous autofocus,
wide dynamic range and wireless networking
The Samsung cameras feature a
432x zoom and support various focus
modes, including auto, manual and
semi-automatic. With full auto focus,
the system produces crisp glare- and
shadow-free images over a wide range
of illumination levels at all times with
a wide dynamic range of 128x (NTSC)
and 160x (PAL).
The transmission is wireless and
the transmitter is the encoder, converting
the analog signals into digital. The
monitoring room is completely digital,
and images are stored in servers.
The cameras, a wireless encoder and
an antenna are mounted on poles 45
feet high. Below them reside metal cabinets
for the UPS and power supplies
and metal security prongs that prohibit
people from climbing the pole to tamper
with the equipment.
Installing the system and providing
power to the components can be
a difficult job. Many projects are loto potential issues. Thermal cameras
rely on heat signatures to ensure effective
detection in any lighting or weather
condition and are suitable for a host of
perimeter protection applications.
Moving from Analog to IP—or Not
Although the majority of government
facility video surveillance systems are
analog, these systems are giving way to
IP solutions. The migration gives government
security officers higher quality images,
more coverage and video analytics.
In some cases, government organizations
are continuing to use analog
but with a twist. In Colombia, analog
cameras are being replaced by the new
43x optical zoom SmartDome™ cameras.
These cameras are an extension
of the recently introduced Samsung A1
series of analog cameras, which incorporate
features such as video analytics.
In addition to the high zoom ration, the
43x SmartDome cameras also provide
the industry's fastest speed for both
zoom and pan/tilt. A 43x zoom can be
accomplished in only three seconds, ensuring
that the Colombian municipal
surveillance system operators will not
miss the opportunity to capture closeups
of critical events.
The preset pan/tilt speed is an extremely
fast 600 degrees per second.
The operators can preset 512 points
and move among them quickly to capture
highlights of a critical event. Also,
the speed of the pan/tilt can be slowed
to 0.01 degree per second to eliminate
any blurs during movement. Varying
speeds can be deployed within a panning
range of 360 degrees and a tilting
range of 192 degrees.
The 43x SmartDome cameras display
picture quality by providing many
present-day IP camera features. For
example, motion adaptive DNR takes
the typical dark gray images and makes
them clear. Digital image stabilization
removes the blurs of motion, providing
a crisp still image. The cameras also
incorporate a low-light noise reduction
and color suppression function. In addition,
the extended dynamic range
feature corrects the problems of darkness
and brightness that render images
unreadable. Wide dynamic range provides
clear images even under backlight
circumstances, removing problems
of glare. Plus, the camera has a power
requirement of only 47 watts.
The use of video security by local,
state and federal governments is
growing as the need for public security
continually increases with threats
from home and abroad. Increasing the
protection of staff, visitors and assets
is no longer an argument of necessity.
The difference with government building
protection versus the private sector
is that government facilities have
a wide variety of applications, which
makes protecting them more complex
This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of Security Today.