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Video Surveillance Technology for a Safer Environment

By Paul Hopingardner, Deputy CIO, City of Austin

Paul Hopingardner, Deputy CIO, City of Austin

The use of video surveillance continues to increase; however, there are advances in technology which make it possible to provide integrated solutions that make it more effective. The use of analytics allows operators to monitor more cameras than they can comfortably watch. This is because the software can alert the operator when abnormal conditions are identified. As an example, programs can notice if something is left unattended in a public area, or if someone lingers in an area for an unusual amount of time.

"The ability to rapidly scale processing power and store large amounts of video can make the cloud viable"

Today there are solutions that can integrate cameras from different systems/owners into a single interface and display available cameras on a map. When this technology is integrated with public safety computer-aided dispatching, priority calls are displayed on the map, and provide operators immediate access to available cameras. Before the public safety unit arrives, the operator can check to see if the live view shows any activity, or if the recently recorded video is useful. This capability increases the safety of responding units and provides situational awareness before they arrive.

It is always very interesting when someone asks if you are going to cloud for your video surveillance system. The reason is that the cloud, like other technologies, needs to be evaluated against requirements. If your video does not need to be viewed live, or it can be post-processed by analytical software, the cloud might be a good fit. The ability to rapidly scale processing power and store large amounts of video can make the cloud viable. In addition, in the total cost of ownership, you have to consider the bandwidth needed to transport the video it to the cloud and to view it.

If your requirements are for live view from multiple sites, and running analytics for immediate notification, local servers and storage are more likely to be a better choice. This is especially true if you have disparate systems with older video compression technology because of the large bandwidth requirements. Transporting video, especially HD video, can be interrupted and to the cloud and viewing that video through a cloud interface introduces potential delays and the video is not real time. The cloud can also be used in a hybrid approach that stores the video on local network, and then transfers it to the cloud for long-term storage. This option provides a real-time view of the surveillance video and then copies it to the cloud.

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