Camera surveillance for facility and security control continues to go mainstream as existing technology is refined and networking innovations are introduced. Special emphasis has been placed on the integration of new and legacy equipment with surveillance operations to enhance the security at the protected premises.

Despite continued opposition by privacy advocates, cameras are becoming more common in public venues. Report after report indicates that local governments, public entities and other locations are installing cameras as an added measure of security, to record events, and to add another layer of protection.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly wants to install more than 400 surveillance cameras at crime-prone and high-traffic streets. The measure is also seen as a way to combat terrorism.

Under recently passed legislation in Baltimore County, Md., many shopping centers will install video surveillance in their parking areas. The law requires the owners of about 100 shopping centers to install cameras that cover some 75 percent of their parking facilities during business hours.

In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley announced plans to begin deploying cameras at key downtown areas over the next several years. There is continued migration of technology from the government sector, especially in camera imaging. Cameras can provide full coverage of surveillance and video can be viewed though desktop, laptop, cellular and other devices.

Arguments by information technology (IT) and communications technology (CT) professionals that CCTV and video signals suck up too much bandwidth have been adeptly addressed by manufacturers through new image-compression technologies and recording techniques, relieving some of the fears of a network crowded with video and data information.

Digital video recorders (DVRs) are smaller, smarter and able to record clear images better than ever. According to Jeff Kiuchi, Marketing Program specialist, Security Products, Imaging Products Division of Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America Inc., Irvine, Calif., a new video compression technology called JPEG 2000 is solving some of the problems related to using too much bandwidth. The company recently released the DX-TL5000U 16-channel digital video recorder, which employs the new compression technology.

JPEG 2000 compression technology retains image quality, is faster than previous standards and uses a small amount of data. JPEG 2000 uses Wavelet transforms, complex mathematical formulas representing image data, to compress video at a high rate with a small amount of data.

“This allows higher-quality images that can handle sharp edges better and reduce the amount of lost data from compression,” Kiuchi said. “It's a higher compression form than Wavelet.”

As systems begin to employ multicamera solutions, management of these devices has become a priority.

“Now it's possible to add an intelligent video-management solution to surveillance,” said Tim Frederick, director, Product Management, 3VR Security, San Francisco.

The company released its 128-camera Intelligent Video Management System at the International Security Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas earlier this year.

“You simply can't hire enough people to view live video effectively at a large facility. We are breaking away from live video and only recording after an analysis of facial indexing indicates a breach and a need to record,” Frederick said.

Higher levels of security over vast landscapes are no longer a problem for surveillance. IPIX Corp., Vienna, Va., only offers a single camera solution, but it is a powerful one, according to Jeff Wilson, spokesperson. IPIX manufactures a line of 360-degree vision cameras.

“The CommandView camera is a 2.0 megapixel, IP-addressable camera and fisheye lens that lets users see, record and play back an entire, 360 degree by 180 degree field of view,” Wilson said.

Partnering with IPIX to enhance the capabilities of its system, VistaScape Security Systems, Atlanta, offers a surveillance solution designed to bring intelligence to a large facility, such as a railroad yard, transportation hub, chemical plant or seaport.

According to Wade Coleman, manager, Corporate Communications, the VistaScape system uses IPIX cameras with its SiteIQ system. Designed for critical infrastructures, SiteIQ is a software solution that displays activity across an entire site, based on analysis of video and intrusion-detection sensors. IPIX CommandView cameras provide 360-degree imagery, while VistaScape's SiteIQ is the graphical user interface part of the system.

“If there is a violation, you can be informed via cell phone, e-mail, PDA or other device,” Coleman said. “The system is automated to the parameters you establish. This way, you don't have to deal with the system on a camera-by-camera level, which is impossible in a larger facility.”

Imaging and camera surveillance continues to evolve, with refinement of technology and integration fueling greater potential for more mainstream applications.

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or domara@earthlink.net.