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By Bill Zalud
security, which now is among the hottest of security technologies,
continues a fast-track expansion into public places and
businesses. Benefits continue to expand, too, from deterrence,
identification and protection to special events and even customer
service and management training.
Great Britain, ahead of most countries in the use of video
surveillance in public places, carries innovation further along
with mobile, wireless cameras on city streets to fight specific
crime hot spots. Just weeks ago, London area's West Oxfordshire
Community Safety Partnership launched what it calls an
"Anti-Social Behavior Initiative." It includes a mobile wireless
camera system that is located where the bad guys hang.
The mobile cameras focus on crime hot spots not covered by
static cameras and where there is no fiber optic network. With a
transmission range of up to 4 kilometers, coverage is possible in
areas that are would otherwise be unprotected, according to
Malcolm Wright of Petards Vision, the system provider. "Local
government has identified anti-social behavior as its number one
priority," he says.
On this side of the "pond," a New England integrator, MAC
Systems (Avon, Mass.), has completed a more traditional but robust
installation of video surveillance for Rhode Island's Lincoln
Park. The aim is to use hundreds of cameras to protect patrons and
employees at the state's largest provider of gaming entertainment
includes 352 digital cameras, 25 digital video recorders and power
Located in Lincoln, about ten minutes north of Providence,
Lincoln Park has more than 1,700 video slot machines, a greyhound
track with daily racing and wagering and three onsite restaurants.
"Officials at Lincoln Park came to us to help them provide a
more safe and secure environment for their customers," says Robert
McMenimon, president of MAC Systems. "Time and information are
valuable tools in surveillance. The system we installed makes both
real-time and recorded video available in seconds, rather than the
minutes it took with the facility's previous VCR-based system."
Ron House, Lincoln Park's director of surveillance, says he
liked how integrator MAC Systems worked closely with his staff to
install the video system. He also says he liked how the design
allowed for growth.
On the special event side, video played a role at the biggest
special event of them all.
Security at Super Bowl XXXVII combined integration of numerous
types of technologies including IP-enabled video surveillance.
Digital video technology from cVideo in San Diego, Calif., made it
possible to view any security camera anywhere at any time. Thanks
to the integrated approach, officials from the FBI, the National
Football League, San Diego Police and stadium security
simultaneously accessed interactive video from more than 50
cameras throughout Qualcomm Stadium.
Nearly all of the cameras could look at virtually any angle
with enough zoom capability to read a lineup card. According to
Bob Davis, technical director of the Super Bowl for the San Diego
Police Department, "When people have to make decisions, they're
actually seeing live, real-time video. This allowed all these
agencies involved in this effort to provide better decisions for
law-enforcement and for safety."
Beyond special events, the ability of video to integrate with
other business systems in more routine applications makes for more
And there is no more routine business than retail sales.
The folks at GE Interlogix, Kalatel Division in Corvallis,
Ore., have integrated video surveillance, for instance, with point
of sale (POS) systems. ProBridge 3 provides an interface for
Kalatel digital video multiplexer/recorders (DVMR), including the
StoreSafe 4-channel DVMR with auxiliary read/write CD unit, to POS
text transaction data. Aimed at gas stations, the gas pump POS
system combines a comprehensive electronic cash register with an
island controller that communicates sales and inventory data to
the user's home or back-office
Pairing Video, Sales Data
management can capture POS transaction text, associate it with the
correct video and record it on internal hard drives. This allows
personnel to quickly search for video using receipt text such as
credit card holder name or number, dollar amount or number of
gallons to locate desired recorded digital images.
When displaying transaction text, a separate window is
displayed, similar to that of a scrolling cash register receipt.
The window can be sized to display as many lines as the monitor
will display. The system also allows users to easily review
playback video and focus on specific transactions. By freezing the
display, users can also highlight the desired receipt text lines,
bring up the images associated with that text, and print out both
the selected text and image.
Security cameras are also an effective deterrent when applied
to specific problems such as vandalism.
The Ohio town of Gahanna, for example, will soon open a
$200,000 skate park. But town officials are concerned about
discouraging vandalism. The town, near Colombus, is using a
chain-link fence, surveillance camera and security lights to
protect the site. Local police will monitor images from the site.
There's no doubt that cities and states all are embracing video
cameras, and some applications go beyond traditional security
needs. A project in southern California, for instance, is seeing
if a blend of highway cameras and Internet access could provide
quicker life safety help.
According to media reports, Mohan Trivedi of the University of
California San Diego and colleagues at the University's Computer
Vision and Robotics Research Laboratory are working on a plan to
determine the effectiveness of a network of highway cameras. The
cameras, wirelessly connected over the Internet, could provide
faster and more intelligent response to traffic emergencies.
Already, the project has been experimenting with two cameras
along a part of Interstate 5. Unique to the application is
computer-enhanced 360-degree imaging to display a diversity of
The future, according to Trivedi: mobile interactive avatars,
robot-like devices that can be "dispatched" on site of accidents
The concept of 360-degree video is growingly important.
Product, system and software companies are forming new business
units to develop and market 360-degree video.
Oak Ridge, Tenn.-based Internet Pictures Corporation (IPIX),
for one, has formed iPIX Security Group to get out its 360-degree
video technology to commercial and government security end users.
In this case, 360-degree real-time spherical video can eliminate
blind spots, allow multiple users to simultaneously navigate their
own unique view of the scene and digitally record and retrieve the
archived video, all using wired or wireless access from any
Of course, the marriage of security video and the Web persists.
There were numerous firms at last month's International Security
Conference in Las Vegas pushing the service.
For example, WebEyeAlert in Chelmsford, Mass., showed ISC
attendees its DVR Plus 3.3. The architecture has the ability to
unite multiple digital video recorders and cameras deployed over a
geographically dispersed area. WebEyeAlert DVR Plus creates a
unified enterprise surveillance system that can be accessed and
managed via a single browser running on a single
Bill is the Editor of Security Magazine,
and he can be reached at (630) 694-4029.