Decentralized at the Core

Innovations in storage, camera technology bring high-res solutions to a broader market

IP-based surveillance signals growth and opportunity for the integrator who knows how to determine the best deployment and camera configuration for specific infrastructures. At the same time, end customers ranging from municipalities, schools and large corporations to small retailers are taking advantage of price reductions and the enhanced capabilities of networked-based cameras to build large video surveillance networks. According to the report Research and Markets: Global Video Surveillance Market, Applications and Management Services Forecasts (2010- 2015), the video surveillance market is expected to grow from $11.5 billion in 2008 to $37.7 billion in 2015 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.4 percent. Video surveillance cameras accounted for almost 47 percent of the total video surveillance market in 2008 and are expected to grow at a CAGR of 21.1 percent from 2010 to 2015.

The High-Resolution Approach In today’s market, discussion focuses on the benefits and feature sets of high-resolution cameras, but talk inevitably turns to costs. There is an assumption that megapixel cameras are costly to acquire and deploy. Mostly, users conclude that the hardware is expensive but that the ongoing storage costs are often the most expensive piece of the puzzle. With advances in technology, this assumption is no longer a reality.

Centralized storage -- at a computer, server, DVR or NVR -- can be a bottleneck due to the way surveillance systems are traditionally deployed. With numerous high-resolution cameras, the system is similar to a highway traffic jam: the more cameras, the greater the bottleneck. With high-resolution cameras, the data is often stored not in the recorded format but rather is compressed and manipulated so it doesn’t tax the network. The result is overly compressed video, which may not yield the high-resolution images captured from the megapixel camera.

Storage affects so many different parts of the overall solution. Users are faced with adding equipment to their own server and data rooms, outsourcing the service or even moving to cloud-based storage. While selectively storing images based on risk and using various algorithms and compression can help, the type of camera used and the kind of technologies it enables can make a big difference. Video recorded at a high frame rate takes up more network space and available server capacity. Even with advanced compression techniques, multiple cameras can quickly tax storage and necessitate additional servers at the data center.

A decentralized approach to video surveillance is far more efficient than traditional methods because it enables more processing power and larger memory cards to be placed in the camera. For the end user and the integrator, the decentralized approach opens up a world of possibilities and puts the true value of the device at their fingertips.

Driving Innovation
A decentralized approach to video surveillance can solve the storage bottleneck in different applications. With this method, video is saved locally on SD cards, CF cards or USB memory. With this method, the camera is self-managing and includes video management software. It uses little computing power and does not require additional licensing fees.

This approach brings enhanced capabilities and cost savings to both end users and integrators. For the end user, it relieves network traffic and storage requirements without compromising video quality.

A decentralized solution also relieves the pressure of constantly storing images on and accessing the network or even a DVR or NVR. It fosters the use of high-resolution cameras in more applications because it allows cameras to perform multiple functions, including the viewing, recording and storing of images.

Cameras that leverage a decentralized approach also are more cost-effective and easier to scale than traditional systems, giving the systems integrator a possible competitive advantage in the marketplace.

In these instances, the camera takes on a life of its own and becomes self-managing, independent and highly flexible. Furthermore, high-resolution cameras can be integrated with IT storage devices for longer storage capacity and are Windows-, Linux- and Maccompatible, which provides additional flexibility for the user. As more cameras are added, only more storage is needed, because no recording software licenses are required. Overall, a decentralized approach can save the end user thousands of dollars in a single installation.

Hemispheric Technology Adds an Edge
Integrators can deliver even more value when they add hemispheric technology to a network of highresolution cameras that incorporates a decentralized approach. Hemispheric technology provides more view and range, and the ability to cover the same area as multiple traditional CCTV cameras. It also allows users to pan and zoom smoothly within the recorded images on the camera. Analysis can be done quickly, enabling users to inspect every section of the scene, panning and zooming into each detail. It avoids blind spots and puts the entire scene in view -- with a single unit in most cases.

Hemispheric technology enables users to capture a complete panorama, from wall to wall and ceiling to floor, but is not a panoramic (wide angle) lens.

Wide-angle lenses often distort images, and images are stitched together to become one. This does not happen with hemispheric technology, which provides a single view without distortion. These cameras do not require any lens or positioning motors as PTZ devices do. Without any moving parts, maintenance is minimal. Because no PC hard disk is required for recording, there is less wear and tear, and therefore less maintenance necessary.

This virtual PTZ allows users to enlarge or move image sections within the hemisphere, just like a PTZ camera yet without moving parts. One or more image sections can be corrected for perspective in the hemispheric view, allowing users to monitor and record several different areas of a room at the same time, something a mechanical PTZ camera is not capable of doing.

Furthermore, hemispheric cameras are discreet, because they manage their task with only one lens. In addition, they are silent when panning and focusing on a specific image area. The wide-angle lens technology also results in the need for fewer cameras overall.

The perspective of the hemispheric image can be transformed into an ultra-wide-angle panoramic view spanning 180 degrees if the camera is mounted on a wall, providing a wall-to-wall view of the room without any blind spots. When the device is mounted on the ceiling, the 360-degree all-around view captures an entire room, and the panorama function and quad view shows images from four different angles simultaneously.

Paired together, hemispheric cameras built on a decentralized approach provide these advantages to the user: Users need fewer cameras due to the more accurate detail of wide-angle images with megapixel technology, and storage costs and network bandwidth consumption are reduced. Overall, a decentralized approach coupled with hemispheric technology and megapixel definition enables both integrators and end users to be in complete control over their protected premises and maximize cost savings over the long term.

This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of Security Today.

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