Getting the most out of the 180/360 degree video surveillance
No one can argue that IP video surveillance
cameras surpass their analog
predecessors thanks to the higher
resolution and vastly improved quality
images these cameras produce, as well as the
advanced functions they make possible, including
analytics like video motion detection and audio/
video remote monitoring. While there are many
excellent IP cameras to choose from today, the one
soaring in popularity is the 180/360 degree video
surveillance camera. Growing usage is credited to
the many benefits 180/360 degree cameras deliver.
They do not, however, provide a one size fits
all solution. Oftentimes, a mix of camera types
is used to ensure complete coverage of an area.
American Integrated Security Group (AISG) follows
specific guidelines when choosing 180/360
degree cameras for each customer application.
Starting with the potential to reduce camera
counts, 180/360 degree cameras have become an
attractive option for a variety of video surveillance
installs. The benefits offered by 180/360 degree
cameras are numerous. In addition to quality
and performance, 180/360 degree cameras
offer the potential of lower costs for equipment,
installation and maintenance.
The raw image captured by 180/360 degree
cameras provides detailed video of a broad area,
often allowing a single camera to replace multiple
traditional cameras. You get greater coverage
with no blind spots of very large locations
like complete exterior storefronts of buildings
or entire interior rooms with just a single camera.
When specifying 180/360 degree cameras,
be sure to emphasize the fact that the customer’s
camera counts will likely be lower. You not only
save the customer money now, but the cameras
also keep maintenance costs low over the life of
AISG Application Focus
Group Discussi on
If designed correctly, 180/360 degree cameras
provide a lower total cost of ownership and a
higher return on investment for your customers.
The basic rule of thumb is to use 180/360 degree
cameras in your design for general wide area
surveillance, and then add single-sensor cameras
to cover specific points for detailed applications
such as facial or plate recognition.
At AISG, it is crucial that system designers
and installers are informed with knowledge of
not only these cameras but every security product
American Integrated Security Group installs.
It starts with the AISG Application Group. To
ensure the right choice for each customer application,
the AISG brainstorms on a variety of
technology topics and determines the required
equipment necessary to maximize the performance
of the systems needed by customers, who
are from a wide range of vertical markets. Meeting
with the AISG Application Group in New
York, here is a summary of a discussion with
Majlind Goranca, application engineer, Brian
Thompson, application engineer, John Martino,
director of applications engineering and Arnold
Koble, vice president of engineering, on the use
of 180/360 degree video surveillance cameras.
The major factors to determine if a 360/180
degree camera is the proper camera for an
- General coverage of a 360 degree or panoramic
- Record/cover more area with a single 180/360 degree camera vs. 3-4
- No blind spots for the covered area.
- Cost effective when compared
vs. multiple cameras to cover the
The first factor AISG considers is
field of view when determining that
an application is right for 180/360 degree
cameras. If it is general coverage,
nothing beats a 180/36-0 degree camera.
The amount of area one camera
covers can replace three to four fixed
cameras. It is the most cost effective
solution to providing a broad overall
view, recording the movement of people,
vehicles, etc., in a large area and at
a distance with no blind spots.
Factors that deter you from specifying
a 180/360 degree camera:
- When facial recognition or license
plate reading is required.
- Details of image.
- Height of the camera placement.
- Low light environment.
You cannot expect 180/360 degree
cameras to do facial recognition
because there is no pixel density
within the area to cover. In a 5MP
360 degree camera, for example, it
is a 5 megapixel lens and those 5
megapixels are spread across a 360
degree image. You cannot specify
which area to focus and dense those
pixels—that is not the purpose.
Height is also an issue. The cameras
can only be up to a specific
height. At a decent height, for instance,
you will be able to recognize
employees and people you know
but if you install the same camera
past 15 feet, you may not be able to
recognize anyone. If the camera is
installed up very high, it definitely
gives a general view but you will not
be able to see details.
Low light environments can be
another deterrent to using these
cameras. Cameras see light and
more light tends to make for a better
image. It is important to make sure
you are getting good light coverage.
What technical issues need to be
addressed when installing 180/360
- NVR needs to support de-warping.
- Height (i.e. warehouses, where
clearance of at least 20 - 45 ft. is
- Field of view (range/distance).
The images from a 180/360 degree
camera’s fisheye lens are distorted
and need de-warping technology
to unbend the globe-like
picture that the cameras produce.
The round and distorted image is
the result of capturing such an ultra-
wide field of view. De-warping
is a processor intensive method that
makes flat, rectangular images from
the original images. While you can
de-warp at the camera itself, AISG
standardizes on, and recommends,
client/server based de-warping.
With client/server based dewarping,
you are recording at full
resolution and are able to use digital
PTZ within the full image and other
views. Each user can manipulate the
PTZ remotely throughout the different
views while also viewing the live
picture. With client based de-warping
you get four streams to view.
Conversely, when you de-warp
at the camera, you have to pre-select the desired field-of-view you want to see and
there is no going back to other views.
The physical location of the 180/360 degree
cameras must be determined. Most cameras are
placed on the ceiling or high on a wall. When
it becomes a technical issue installing a180/360
degree camera in regard to height, it will limit
camera placement options. There are also obstructions
to consider. It is important to make
sure your coverage is not cut short by any obstructions.
For example, if you try to deploy
180/360 degree cameras in a warehouse environment
where there are lifts going throughout
a tight space, a clearance of at least 20 to 45 foot
radius is required; as well as a 12 to 15 foot camera
height placement limitation.
As mentioned, field of view is an important
aspect to consider when selecting surveillance
cameras. Fixed cameras that focus on one specific
spot are usually used for entrance and exits.
To cover a wider area like warehouses, parking
lots, or stadiums, 180/360 degree cameras provide
broader coverage. You have to be realistic
regarding the range or distance you can view, for
instance, you cannot have one 360 degree camera
on a 100 feet radius and expect good results.
The ultimate radius for a 5MP lens 360 degree
camera is 25 feet. For example, outdoors, if it is
50 feet away, you will not be able to recognize the
details of a vehicle.
Various Types of
180/360 Degree Cameras
Today, two options are available on the market for
180/360 degree cameras: single-lens/single-sensor
2 to 12MP and multi-lens/multi-sensor which
uses four 2 to 5MP sensors with conventional
lenses. A single lens camera solution uses a specialized
fisheye lens which must be de-warped to
produce either a 180- or 360-degree view.
In general, 180/360 degree cameras are ideal
for situational awareness in wide open spaces
like retail stores, lobbies, parking lots and building
perimeters. Indoor and outdoor 180/360 degree
camera models are available to provide interior
and exterior video coverage. The 180/360
degree camera can also offer day and night functionality.
Other features you find in 180/360 degree
cameras are a choice of resolutions, as well
as configurable privacy zones and video motion
detection within defined areas of interest.
Indoor 180/360 degree cameras should be designed
with a lightweight enclosure that can be
completely concealed behind ceilings or walls for
quick and easy installations indoors. For a 360°
outdoor camera, make sure the model is designed
for quick and easy installations outdoors and includes
a professional and rugged enclosure to
withstand harsh weather requirements.
The old school philosophy that placing a
camera where it can easily be seen may scare off
criminals is a fading concept and today, more customers
are asking for cameras that are covert. The
compact and unobtrusive 180/360 degree dome
camera is the perfect solution. Customers often
comment that they look like smoke detectors.
Dome cameras are widely used for indoor usage
and also come in weatherproof versions for outdoor
The digital PTZ system lets users use the camera
like a conventional dome camera without any
moving parts, improving reliability and cutting
down on maintenance costs. Users can manipulate
their own PTZ remotely within different views.
The popular 180/360-degree camera platform is
well-suited for 4K cameras. The 4K camera offers
ultra-high resolution, sensitivity, intelligence and
toughness. The high-resolution images produced
by 4K cameras deliver substantially more picture
detail across the broad field of view than any other
camera out there.
Matching the Camera
to the Customer
There are many ways to take advantage of the
growing 180/360 degree video surveillance camera
market with the latest technology available.
Always use cameras that are open-architecture.
Important considerations with 180/360 degree
cameras are: camera placement to determine what
the customer wants to see, the environment where
the cameras will be installed and the purpose the
security cameras will ultimately serve.
Potential growth markets where AISG is successful
with early adopters of the 180/360 degree
camera technology include: retail, transportation,
cities and government, hotels and resorts,
casinos, stadiums and financial institutions.
These clients have individual needs that often
require a mix of both 180/360 degree cameras
and single IP video camera models. In addition
to broad coverage, for instance, casinos are interested
in the ultra-high resolution cameras on
gaming floors. Stadiums and government applications
are often looking for analytics, coupled with
facial recognition technology. Airports and open
warehouses often require video motion detection
capabilities. In retail environments, heat mapping
and people counting capabilities provide insights
into employee and customer behavior patterns
and can assist in business optimization and marketing
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Security Today.