Evolutionfrom Closed Circuit TV to Ubiquitous IP Camera Surveillance
By Bob Mesnik
From the early beginnings of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), it was somewhat controversial. It was designed to increase our security and safety, but does it threaten our privacy? How has video surveillance changed over the years? This article reviews the history of surveillance and how it has evolved into a technology that has become part of our lives.
Video surveillance is not new; it has been around for quite a while. One of the first recorded application for closed circuit television system (CCTV) was back in 1942. It was used to view the launch of V2 rockets in Germany.
In the US, commercial surveillance applications began around 1947. In 1957 a number of companies such as General Precision Labs (GPL division), provided CCTV camera systems for education, medical and industrial applications.
The other day I was walking down a street in Manhattan and I saw a guy selling watches. There was one watch that looked just like an expensive Rolex but it cost only $50. What a deal, I thought.
I think everyone tries to find the best deal. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that old maxim, “you get what you pay for”. I know I do. How many times have we gotten burned by this?
I’m not sure how to tell if the watch is worth $50, but I can provide some guidance about what to consider when purchasing an IP camera.
IP Cameras range in price from under $50 to well over $1000. What is the difference? As you may guess it’s the functionality and quality. The low-cost cameras are usually sold to the home consumer market and are not designed for commercial security and surveillance applications. The more expensive camera lasts longer and allows you to see things clearer. So how does this relate to getting the best IP camera for your money?
Computers are all around us. These sneaky little critters are not only on our desks, they are in our phones, cash registers, refrigerators, stoves. They are also in IP cameras, door access control readers, and network attached paging amplifiers. The world is certainly getting smarter, but have you ever thought about how these computers actually work? Probably not. And, you’re probably saying, ‘Why do I need to know any of this?
Bloomberg Business Week recently published a complete issue dedicated to “Coding”. Why go to the bother? Well the Business Week article says that learning about technology, is good, it’s important, and sometimes essential for helping you keep your job.
Here’s some basic information that could help you stay current. It will help take the magic out of the computer technology we use every day.
Many IP cameras include motion detection capability. It is also available using video management software (VMS) or a network video recorder (NVR). This is a very important analytic function because it controls when an alarm is triggered and when the video is recorded.
Motion detection seems to be a simple concept. All we do is compare one frame to another and look for things that change. For example, a moving white ball can trigger an alarm by comparing two frames.
Well, it isn’t that simple. The early engineers who worked on motion detection discovered that this was a difficult engineering problem. Back in the 1970’s, I worked on a project to detect moving particles in fluids. What I discovered was that it is sometimes difficult to discern the difference between a moving object and signal noise.
Wireless IP cameras can be used whenever you can’t wire the camera to your network switch. Cameras with built in wireless radios are used indoors, while cameras with external radios are used outdoors and in remote locations.
Cameras with built in radios are usually for indoor home use. But when it comes to outdoor use, cameras that use external radios are preferred because they are reliable and can cover much longer distances.
There are two types of wireless connections; Wi-Fi radios that use a dedicated connection between two points, and 3G / 4G that use the telephone wireless network.
Specifications Versus Real-World Low Light Camera Performance
This post was updated on 11/27/2017 to reflect new cameras available.
The low light capability of an IP camera will determine if you can use the camera outdoors at night or inside with minimum lighting. This article reviews the IP camera specification for minimum light level and the factors that affect the low light performance.
Low-light sensitivity for IP cameras is defined as the lowest level of light that still provides reasonable video clarity. Most cameras will work well in the daytime or at normal room lighting, but we have to take a careful look at the specifications to determine if the camera will work when it’s dark.
The low light sensitivity defined in the camera specifications can be misleading. IP camera specifications use lux (lx) to define minimum light level, but there’s more to the comparison than just the lux level.