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As Forbes Insights found in a recent study, many organizations underutilize video surveillance in their business*. The majority of those surveyed (58%) said they cover less than half of their valuable assets with video surveillance; unsurprisingly, businesses with widely distributed assets, such as remotely located power stations or cell towers, face particular challenges covering a majority of their assets with video surveillance.

According to the same survey, of respondents who do use video surveillance, a majority (66%) said that for the locations or facilities where video surveillance is in use, fewer than half are actively monitored by security personnel. The top concern preventing more monitoring is cost-effectiveness (52% of respondents).

Recent advances in digital video technologies make it possible to address concerns about the effectiveness and cost of active monitoring, as well as dealing with bandwidth issues for remote sites. Deploying increased intelligence in cameras and in devices at the edge of the network can ensure that people get access to the right video data in a timely manner.

Addressing the challenge of remote sites

Video surveillance can be a very effective way of securing and managing dispersed and remote assets. By providing immediate “eyes on” any remote site, centralized personnel can respond to security threats and even operational issues quickly and appropriately. However, simply having the cameras available is not enough, because streaming all that video to a centralized location is at best a waste of resources, and may not be possible at all.

Streaming video across long distances can be problematic and costly. Beyond the obvious question of bandwidth limitations, intermittent increases in latency or drops in throughput quickly lead to lost data. The best solution for drastically reducing the opportunity for data loss is to keep the recording as close to the cameras as economically viable. When coupled with greater intelligence at the edge through video-analytics-enabled cameras, this approach offers opportunities to significantly reduce the amount of data that needs to be sent to a central location in the first place.

Video analytics is software that analyzes a video stream to make sense of what is happening in a scene. Typically, video analytics is used to alert security personnel about events that may require action, reducing the need to constantly monitor all the cameras. And video analytics can also provide the intelligence to reduce bandwidth and storage requirements. Video analytics performed on or near the camera allows all the video to be analyzed and tagged with metadata and then streamed to a local video recorder that intelligently decides whether to record based on live events. This dramatically reduces the amount of footage recorded, minimizing storage and bandwidth needs without losing critical data. Furthermore, when a remote investigator needs to search the video, the metadata can be very quickly searched, retrieved and presented to the user, so that only the essential video needs to be retrieved and transmitted over a long distance.

Avigilon cameraUltrahigh resolution cameras provide great coverage of vast areas, reducing total camera count while still providing enough detail for identification purposes. But ultrahigh resolution cameras increase the challenge for bandwidth and storage management, particularly in remote sites with limited information technology resources. Avigilon’s High Definition Stream Management (HDSM)™ technology coupled with a local recording server makes it possible to deploy cameras with very high resolution even in remote sites with limited bandwidth. Because HDSM technology ensures that only the appropriate resolution and portion of video is transmitted from the server to the viewing client (in both live and recorded video), a centrally located investigator can efficiently view video from any Avigilon camera: From 1 megapixel through 7K (30 MP), all can be viewed over a connection with limited bandwidth.

Why not record on the camera itself?

In an effort to keep the recording as close to the camera as possible, many would like to do away with the recorder completely. This is a good strategy if a site has only one or two cameras with modest resolution, but as soon as the resolution of a camera is greater than 3 MP, and/ or storage requirements are for multiple weeks or even months, the solid state storage used in most cameras becomes prohibitively expensive or simply unavailable in sufficiently large quantities to meet the specific application. Our analysis shows that the total cost of ownership of a system per unit of storage can quickly reach 10 times that of an equivalent system with spinning disks. These cost differentials and storage capacity limitations may be reduced or even eliminated with time; but for now, the most efficient solution is a recorder with spinning disks such as Avigilon Control Center (ACC) Edge Solution (ES) High Definition (HD) Recorder

Managing a large number of remote devices

o ensure the secure and continuous operation of the whole system, each device must receive regular updates to its firmware. With hundreds or even thousands of devices on the network, managing updates of each device individually can quickly become a problem. Avigilon ensures that every update of recorder software also updates the cameras attached to the recorder by packaging the latest firmware for each model of Avigilon camera with every server update. System administrators can remotely deploy and manage recorder software updates from a single, central location and automatically cascade updates to all the individual devices. This enables system administrators to quickly update the entire system at once, making it easier to keep the system healthy.

In addition, the system administrator has a holistic view of the entire system and can verify that each device is functioning as intended. If a problem should occur, it is easy to remotely troubleshoot the issue.

To ensure the privacy of the law-abiding people who are being surveilled, it is necessary to manage the access rights and system permissions of people who can view the video. Systems with many thousands of devices will often have hundreds of users. If access to every device or every site needs to be managed individually, keeping user roles and privileges up to date is a very heavy administrative burden. It is essential to ensure that people’s access rights are appropriately updated as they move to different positions in an organization, or removed immediately when they leave the organization. Avigilon lets administrators manage user access and privileges centrally for all sites and devices and enables delegation of responsibility for this administration along regional or other lines, to ensure that the burden of administration does not need to rest with a single individual.

In addition, Avigilon enables users to access the sites and devices that they need quickly and efficiently, even in a large, distributed system. Users can find and access the sites that they need with a minimum of effort, so they can see what is relevant, organized in a logical fashion, regardless of the physical setup of recorders and cameras across sites.

Avigilon remote devices

Changing the cost model for monitoring remote sites

The Avigilon solution makes better security of remote sites more cost-effective in many ways. With our ultrahigh resolution cameras, you can cover more area with fewer cameras, lowering installation, licensing and maintenance costs. Combined with our HDSM 2.0 technology and our ability to record at the network edge, you can increase image resolution while minimizing the requirements – and costs – for storage and bandwidth. And by incorporating video analytics, one operator can monitor 10 times the number of screens, optimizing security personnel workload and capabilities. With roaming guards, Murphy’s law says that something will happen in the location where the guard isn’t. With remote monitoring and video analytics, you can reduce costs while ensuring that your security personnel don’t miss a thing.


There are many challenges to keeping multiple remote sites secure. Deploying on-site security personnel is usually too expensive. Video surveillance can be challenging due to inadequate IT resources at remote sites, which can limit the ability to view and record video data. And when there are many remote sites, the number of devices and complexity of the system can create challenges for system administration, maintenance and even users trying to view the right data. Avigilon addresses these issues with an end-to-end security system incorporating ultrahigh definition cameras, video analytics and video recorders that operate at the network’s edge. The system is designed to reduce storage and bandwidth requirements while minimizing administration and maintenance time. Taken together, the Avigilon system makes it cost-effective to protect all of your assets no matter how remote they are.

Download the Avigilon white paper here.

Wider World: Ultra Wide Angle Surveillance

by Steve Sanko on 5/23/2015

Wider World: Ultra Wide Angle Surveillance

 As presented by Avigilon



With a variety of wide angle surveillance cameras on the market, it is important to understand the differences in capabilities and results in order to design a high definition surveillance system built to meet your specific needs.

Download PDF: Ultra Wide Angle Surveillance



A powerful tool for covering large areas in high resolution, megapixel and HD surveillance cameras can reduce system costs by replacing multiple cameras and improving investigations by capturing better, and more useful, evidence. While megapixel IP surveillance cameras are now in mainstream use, a new category of cameras developed specifically to cover ultra wide scenes with fewer cameras is also becoming increasingly available. But with a variety of wide angle surveillance cameras on the market, it is important to understand the differences in capabilities and results in order to design a high definition surveillance system built to meet your specific needs.


Ultra Wide Angle Advantage


When you consider the surveillance requirements of a 10 m by 10 m building lobby, the need for ultra wide angle surveillance cameras becomes evident. In a traditional configuration, a camera would need to be installed in every corner for complete coverage, particularly if there are multiple entrances or areas of activity along each wall. Alternatively, purpose-built megapixel surveillance solutions targeted at 180 or 360 degree imaging can provide the coverage required to monitor the entire area, with fewer cameras. If central mounting is possible, a single 360 degree camera can give you complete coverage, but if it isn’t practical to mount a camera in the center of the room, two 180 degree cameras on opposing walls can deliver the same coverage. In both cases, the number of cameras needed is reduced along with the associated installation and service costs.



180 and 360 Degrees


Fig 1


Today, two options are available on the market for gaining 180 and 360 degree coverage from a single camera: a specialized lens on a single sensor or a camera that integrates multiple sensors with conventional lenses aligned to provide ultra wide angle coverage. Single camera solutions for ultra wide angle coverage use a specialized lens called a fisheye lens, which uses different optical design techniques compared to conventional lenses that can lead to the distortion of the captured image when viewing beyond a 90 degree horizontal field of view. For example, what is referred to as ‘barrel’ distortion can occasionally occur, where a circular image is created and straight lines within the captured image appear curved. Software can sometimes correct this optical distortion, but it is typically a very processor-intensive task that requires proprietary algorithms.
The fisheye lens is also limited by the way it projects the captured image onto the image sensor. As a consequence of its design, the 180 and 360 degree fisheye lens creates either an oval or circular shaped image, problematic because all image sensors used in surveillance cameras are square or rectangular. As a result, a 180 or 360 degree fisheye lens is never able to use all the pixels available in the sensor, as you can see in the example image in figure 1.


Recent Adoption

Although fisheye lenses have been used in photography since the early 1900s, their adoption in the surveillance industry hasn’t occurred until fairly recently, in part because of the introduction of IP HD and megapixel surveillance cameras. Covering an ultra wide 180 or 360 degree field of view with conventional analog technology was ineffective because the resulting images had no detail.
The second option that can be used to achieve 180 or 360 degree coverage indoors is a compact, multi-sensor camera that uses four 2MP sensors with compact, pre-installed conventional lenses. In a four sensor, 180 degree multi-sensor camera, each lens covers a 45 degree field of view, while in a four sensor 360 degree camera, each lens covers a 90 degree field of view. A compact, multi-sensor camera offers several advantages: the images are captured without distortion and deliver an easily measured and quantifiable amount of pixels-on- target consistently throughout the scene.


Dramatic Difference

Designed with a dome form factor, compact multi-sensor cameras use one network cable for power and to transmit video for the images from all four sensors, resulting in a quick and convenient installation. The use of conventional lenses also means that every pixel on each sensor is utilized to capture the image, maximizing overall image quality without wasting any pixels.SetWidth240-dramatic
The two approaches offer dramatic differences in detail, security, and coverage. Take the example of a 10m by 10m building lobby with a single 360 degree camera mounted in the center. Using a circular fisheye lens and a 3MP camera with a resolution of 2048 x 1536, you capture the room with a distorted circular image and a diameter of 1536 pixels. The circular image has a circumference of 4825 pixels covering the 40 meter perimeter of the room, or roughly 120 pixels per meter at the edge of the room. A multi-sensor 360 camera using four 2MP sensors has 6400 pixels of total horizontal resolution across the four streams, resulting in 160 pixels per meter of detail around the perimeter of the room. As a result, only the multi-sensor solution provides sufficient detail to identify faces around the perimeter of the room. In addition, using a simple formula dividing the width of the image sensor by the scene covered, the multi-sensor solution delivers improved resolution in the balance of the image. The circular projection of the fisheye lens means that this math can only be done easily at the perimeter of the image. The distortion of the circular fisheye image delivers the least amount of detail at the perimeter and the most in the center of the room. However, concentrating image detail in the center of the image in most configurations is typically wasted because a single sensor fisheye camera will only capture the tops of heads directly beneath the camera.


Pixels on Target

The introduction of megapixel surveillance cameras has improved these limitations, but there are still important concerns to be aware of when coupling ultra wide angle lenses with megapixel surveillance cameras. Advanced surveillance system design must now address the concept of pixels-on-target – the ability to quantify the detail of the image being captured during design and verify it during installation. However, pixels-on-target can only be easily calculated when conventional lenses are used, because ultra wide angle lenses distort the scene when captured. As a result, you can no longer guarantee the amount of pixels-on-target at any point in the image.


Recording and management

While effective coverage of ultra wide angle scenes is a great way to leverage the resolution of multi megapixel IP surveillance cameras to reduce system costs, multi megapixel surveillance cameras pose unique challenges with bandwidth, storage, and management that need to be properly addressed. Purpose-built network video management software (NVMS) platforms are now available that are tailored for HD and megapixel surveillance and can be used to ensure that all the evidence captured by a 180 or 360 camera is stored and managed effectively.
Being aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each option for ultra wide angle coverage is the first step towards designing a high- performance and cost-effective high definition surveillance system for any space – both indoors or out. With a clear understanding of the approaches taken to ultra wide angle surveillance, integrators and end- users can more effectively build a high definition surveillance system that delivers complete coverage and ultimately, unmistakable evidence for improved investigations.

RS2 Technologies Access Control Resources

by Steve Sanko on 3/28/2014

Dash Door and our vendor partner RS2 Technologies are pleased to present this series of White Papers that are intended to provide valuable information on topics of general and specific interest to customers and other participants in the Access Control industry. Please check the Dash Door Technical Article page occasionally to see new White Paper offerings.

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