CHRONOLOGY OF SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY

WHITE PAPER- definition

             A “white paper” is an authoritative report or guide that often addresses problems

                 and how to solve them. White papers are used to educate readers and help people

             make decisions. They are often used in politics and business.

        [-What you need to know about the evolution of surveillance

      but… were afraid to ask, or no one bothered to inform you! ]

A “Must read” for anyone considering a video surveillance purchase.

Author; Breck Eon Gabler

Having the best possible technology and image detail for a security based surveillance

system should be a priority. Whether it is a person’s identity in helping solve a serious crime

or in the pro-active retrieval of video, for the protection of business assets, having

identifiable video is crucial. How often, have you seen the images from any recent

public newscast  video from a bank robbery, store shooting or other serious crime

and wondered WHY? all those pictures look so “grainy” & do- not allow a person to be

positively identified, let alone to determine any decent facial detail. Certainly you

would think, the video clips should at least provide reasonably clear images,

especially with all the technology available these days?

Well, the answer is that the “technology” being used for all (DVR) based recording systems

is based upon the over (65 years old), motion picture industries NTSC video standard.

             What this means, is that for any “DVR” system deployed today, it is virtually impossible to

correct lost video frames using interlace ½ frame recording. “Interlace” means that each video

sequence is weaved together with odd and even frames of video and then decoded out, to give the

 “effect “of full movement for any image,  just as your TV does.  For your TV viewing experience,

due to the ability for the bandwidth to be processed beforehand and many other technical factors,

your TV as it “appears” on your screen looks fine and with good enough clarity even on non HD sets.

Another reason interlace techniques work for TV, is because the human eye cannot compensate

moving images faster than [17] images per second, therefore the (missing video artifacts) weaved

together to produce broadcast video on TV don’t appear, unless the video is slowed down and/or, fast

movement occurs.  This is right for TV, but for any ‘surveillance application’ you want

exactly the opposite;  you desire; clarity of moving images, the ability to freeze an image for output,

without the pulsing, jagged edges and/or “grainy” video artifacts. Industry methods used to double up on

refresh rates like mentioned above work for TV, but the same tricks cannot produce similar

results while recording to any DVR unit. DVR’s simply cannot process the images fast enough to encode

and decode and that leaves the output quality less than desirable.  This is just the basics for the complex

process known as de-interlace and video recording for the purpose of evidentiary surveillance video.

Managing just a few or many surveillance cameras have been done for years now, with DVR

 boxes that attempt to manage huge (file size) video streams with a technology format adopted from

 the TV industry.  For the average user of surveillance they should understand that using the

(closed system), i.e. [ CCTV technology] although prevalent, is not very effective for the purpose of detailing

crime events, theft, moving images, or for ID purposes. Analog based DVR systems are still the vast majority

of video systems used for surveillance although the ratio of IP and high resolution based systems is growing

faster than analog which is on the downward curve for good reason. We live in a digital age and very few current

electronics rely on old mechanisms , except for most surveillance purchases which are inherently locked into

NTSC analog technology standards.

As the industry keeps selling these systems, and most industries keep buying it,  marketing and selling gimmicks

help keep the buyers convinced  huge improvements are being made in quality with terms  such as ; 600 TVL ,

  480 fps ( frames per second) (hi-def) viewing output, high resolution, H.264 image compression and a few others.

The general public is unaware and companies that purchase this equipment are being misled in thinking they have the

best tools available to thwart theft and to better protect their businesses. Basically it is analogous to the beer industry

hyping their product by offering; peel off labels, watching the label turn colors, contoured bottles or anything that

enhances the (refresh for sales) without really changing the base quality of their product.

   To clarify a few of the claims made for the (box DVR) unit;

> It is impossible to produce video quality past 540 TVL, i.e. 540 television lines for a ‘DVR’ NTSC

based system. Industry dealers use 600 TVL as a selling tool, knowing that ‘live’ video may appear

better at that resolution but the recorded output will not surpass 540 TVL. Or they use ‘HD’ output

to a monitor to pump up their hype. This again may create a little better image but not on the

recorded image, which should be all that really matters.. When your mobile phone can record

720 P and above, which is several times the quality of most analog based surveillance without the

‘fuzzy’ output to boot, it is time to take a serious look at what you are spending money on?

Another selling tool is to tout 480 fps, ( frames per second) divided by say 16 connected cameras.

This math says that the speed of the playback video could be 30 fps.  480 fps/16 cameras..

30 ( frames per second) is nice, not necessary but nice, however these units most all only output CIF quality

which is (320×240).  Although each box may be able to record at 30 fps, usually the (fps) will be 7.5 (fps). This is

because of simple math. The more images per second the less quality of the image.

It is an inverse relationship between quality and processing power, thus the more your get on one side the less

on the other.  320×240 is an analog term describing a horizontal to vertical recording method, translated to a

digital context term called, CIF (Common Intermediate format).  (CIF) is the measurement of the base quality

setting for a recorded image. It is important to realize that although much sizzle is applied to the terms as used

above for surveillance, managing video files as a whole, is much more difficult than regular data mainly because

of the much larger file sizes for video and the compression techniques required to encode and decode recording

footage in a very short time (milliseconds), to produce a usable video clip suitable for surveillance use.  The bottom

line for DVR systems is that they most always record @ CIF level quality for output ultimately, in a NTSC based

system, as in all DVR’s. Some DVR systems can record at say 4 CIF, i.e. 540 TVL ( 4 times) CIF, but only

at the sacrifice of something else in the equation, namely a lower frame rate in the image.

  So when we all see surveillance footage that has been recorded using a DVR most of the time it is recorded

at CIF quality, or perhaps 2 CIF or even some at 4 CIF then compressed, then interlaced, then De-interlaced, and decoded

again, thus the end result is a video clip that looks.. well,  less than you would expect from today’s technology.

Even a machine recording at 4 CIF i.e. D1/DVD quality will often fail to produce a quality image due

to the recording techniques used especially when many cameras are connected.  Unless light is very good, the object

in your cameras (field of view) is close, and indoors can most of these systems get decent evidentiary video.

CIF images and recordings are methods using NTSC based standards such as in DVR’s.  Since the CIF standard is

a digital representation, as a comparison, a 3.1 megapixel image (2048 X 1536) is 30 times the quality of a standard CIF.

This is the basis for megapixel based resolution in video, which changes everything as it applies to the best way provide

usable video footage to use for surveillance. Why is it that analog systems are still deployed in huge numbers still ?

It is the same reason why the TV industry just turned to 100% digital broadcasts several years ago.

The time had come to compete with the internet in terms of attracting viewers with (hi-def) TV

3-D and the economies of scale are now aligned correctly as well. Most of the sellers and buyers

of surveillance systems have not reached that threshold yet unfortunately.

Politics and the major industries  play a role in restrictions and a cap if your will, on

 technology. The new (ATSC) video standard is why everyone previously needed “digital tuners” for

 analog TV’s to work. The TV industry has finally changed to ‘digital’ and to HD formats 1080I/

and such. Funny thing is that the analog standard is still in place for DVR boxes used for surveillance.

  The National Television System Committee (NTSC) comprised of leaders from major industries,

  have since the mid 1940’s wielded their influence in the pursuit of patent protections, profits

  and power, to control how systems change or don’t to conform, and ultimately for better or

   worse, decide the standards.  Many very interesting articles are available on line or via other

    resources fully detailing issues like these, about how technology has been trumped for conformity

    in video standards.  A few links, if interested are:  http://www.ntsc-tv.com/ntsc-index-01.htm  :

    http://www.vxm.com/Progvsinter.html :   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlacing

Without belaboring the point and getting even more technical, most all providers are

             very slow to respond to the demand and need for 100 % digital surveillance because they are

             still very comfortable buying the cheapest and sometimes faulty, cameras and mass produced DVR’s

             from the far east. The vast majority of US markets and end-users had not realized, dramatically

             better quality and performance was even possible.  Changing a consumer mindset, re-training

             and being able to deliver IP based surveillance is simply not in their DNA, not yet at least.

            As long as major companies can produce and market easily packaged units, and distributors and

            dealers are not forced to change by market pressure; cheap ‘DVR’ and cameras will continue to flood

            the sales channels and companies and individuals will continue to buy them.

 Until market forces i.e. (loss of market potential) urge on the ‘biggies’ of the industry to

              change, most buyers will be sold by the best marketers and the biggest voices in advertising for

             what they want to sell you. The biggest and most prominent security companies for example are not

            overly anxious to offer innovation although they advertize that way to give the impression they do.

            As mobile technology outdoes itself every few months the savvy buyer of security and technology

            will gravitate towards innovation every time, but only if they know what is available, and from

            what companies who can deliver to fill these needs.

IP based cameras started hitting the market in the late 90’s so it is not so new. Products are

  now available that forms the basis for a much higher standard over the internet and from

 distributors. However, education is the key as these systems require more programming expertise

 and more IT skills than analog systems.  Eventually IP based systems will become (mainstream) and

 of course reduced to a commodity sale like DVR’s are now…In the meantime, articles like these will

hopefully help person’s make educated decisions on what technology to use to fit their needs and

what technology they should invest in.

As a side note; the security industry wants every home to have an alarm system of course.

 You pay a monthly fee for an industry average over 95% false alarm rate!  In addition most states now

  mandate that in order to dispatch the police, a (real person) must be called first, to allow for a

 police response to your false alarm?  Seems that defeats the purpose of alarms somewhat.

 When video and internet technology can do all this with your smart phone without the wires,

   contracts and legacy systems tied to your phone line that you disconnected long ago, smart

    buyers are turning to their smart phones and to more fluent means to quickly find out who is in

    your home or business when they shouldn’t be, without the costly monthly fees.

Well, I like my DVR just fine thank you!  We felt the same way a few years ago until we

   saw the difference and wondered why my company wasn’t using it. Now my company is…

  Some business owners are satisfied with just the allure of having security, however when

  push comes to shove and they need an output clip for something important, they only have

  what every other DVR give you, no matter how much it costs or how cheap it is. IP standards

 and high quality are not for everyone of course and certain markets are only interested in price.

We feel that providing real change for the safeguard of the public and for proactive management

of a business is the only direction to travel, towards IP based video solutions.

ASK yourself?  Would you spend thousands of dollars on any outdated surveillance

   technology i.e.) analog based (DVR’s) if you knew that your could have (10 to 30) times the

  video quality, much more functionality for your video surveillance needs, and not have to pay

 much more if any, than you did for that underachieving former or new CCTV box.

Lastly, just like a highway with lots of traffic, all the cameras run to one central point for the

 recording of the video. Just like the traffic jam, the same thing happens to your “DVR”.  It cannot

  process the video fast enough to be able to output effectiveness. . Just like sitting in a traffic jam

  on the highway and wondering; Why isn’t there a better way? …… Well, for your surveillance

  needs at least, yes, now there is a practical and effective way to manage that flow and for once;

 to get your money’s worth and a positive return for your investment in a surveillance system…

IP Video & specifically decentralized Surveillance Solutions

    100 % digital and IP based surveillance is based upon what everyone knows and

                uses every day.  It is the Ethernet transmission of video signals, just like your computer

          network, your printer, your POS system, your laptop and everything basically that

          sends data from point A to point B.  In this case it is simple.  A high quality IP video

               camera is assigned an IP address; it is routed to a storage location, i.e.  network attached

               storage, (NAS) for example.  The cameras are powered via an Ethernet switch and it is on-line.

 Since the IP based system is internet ready and travels along the same type cables

               as your PC etc., it has the advantage of being configured like any computer device,

               which gives any particular camera unlimited functionality for surveillance settings, PDA,

               audio, email, “paging you”, no central point of failure, redundancy, and much more.

               It also provides another in-valuable service.  If you have a de-centralized IP surveillance

              system, then you have Megapixel Plus quality (progressive scan) video images and that

   is a very effective way to manage video high quality video footage.

A de-centralized transfer of video images means the intelligence is placed in the

    IP camera itself, no added stress is placed upon the network to constantly pump data to a

   dedicated server and since no dedicated software is required to store images either, there

   is no traffic jam of video going to a “closed” system, like every “DVR” platform, also known

   as officially, (“closed circuit” television system), CCTV.   With independent video streams

   being stored to a server or other network device, the already recorded images come through

   without having to be re-processed like a DVR, therefore “what you see live” is simply what

   you get on output, which is what anyone would want, clear images for review.

Any IT professional and/or regular business person should now be aware of the

   previously mentioned analogies and technical explanations as it applies to networks and

   the dilemma surrounding why terrible video quality is produced from analog and DVR’s.

  The more aware a customer is on the best methods to increase productivity and to

  save on unnecessary expenditures the less reluctant they will be with spending money

  on equipment and technologies that will provide years of extremely reliable service and a

  huge increase in overall satisfaction with their security and surveillance protection systems.

 Images 2, 3, and 4 from left to right depict the adding of odd and even frames

  via interlace processing suitable for the TV output and the end result at far right

  for your broadcast TV viewing.  The Progressive scan image at left, as used in

  computer monitors and IP cameras doesn’t require this process….

  The image above is frozen from a movie, which shows fast movement and reveals

   what the “TV can hide” (because of the human eye limitation) and the tricks applied

    to double the refresh rate, so the movies you see don’t appear this way when viewed live.

Above image shows the limitations of analog recording systems.

 The pulsing, combing, & graininess cannot be hidden, as it can for TV.

 This scenario is unfortunate but true. Notice the in-ability to see any definition

 in the face area. Zooming into the image degrades it even further.

  This clip was taken from a theft attempt on personal property.

   It was also recorded from a PC based DVR that cost over 5 grand just for the box.

  This image is far better than what you normally see from recorded DVR clips,

   however it is still in-effective and  less than admissible.

The above image is not blown up but an original size recorded with a megapixel based camera. It is obvious

that their is a NIGHT and DAY difference in technology between what most C stores use and our clients ! Better safety

and clarity required today.

Below image is what should be used today for effective video for retail, and every industry that is concerned with

using current standards. In many instances , tags and other crucial data can also be obtained, when necessary.

Summary

 

                  Having sold many analog based “DVR” products to customers over the years

                we have found that in the past, and as recently as just a few years ago, the marketplace has

                accepted the level of quality being marketed, as the “best available” for security protection.

                However, based upon professional responsibility and personal desire to offer only those

                products and services that can best protect the public, and are the most cost effective

                for the future success of your business, is the reason why retailers or any business that

                has potential losses from theft, should find out about the best options available…

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