The network camera is only one piece of the IP surveillance puzzle. Because network cameras transmit data digitally over an IP network, new worlds are opened up in terms of video management. Users can access their cameras from anywhere using a standard web browser, and are provided with advanced tools for monitoring and recording with IP video management software.
Recording & Live Monitoring
Some of the key attributes of an IP-based surveillance system involve remote video monitoring and improved recording and storage capabilities.
Remote Monitoring via the Internet
With an IP video surveillance system, video streams can be viewed from any network computer with access to the internet. Since each network camera has a built-in web server and its own IP address, users must simply type the camera's IP address into the web browser's address field to view the live video feed.
Monitoring with IP Video Software
Video management software gives users much more flexibility when it comes to viewing and managing their network camera systems. Video management solutions provide tools for simultaneous monitoring of multiple cameras, event management functions, alarm notification, recording, and more. IP video software solutions range from basic programs designed for individual users, to advanced solutions that allow multiple users to access to IP camera system simultaneously from different locations.
Network Video Recording
Typically, video footage from IP cameras is recorded either to a hard drive, uploaded to an FTP server, or stored on a dedicated NVR (Network Video Recorder). For basic applications, the camera's built-in recording functionality captures video using scheduled or triggered recording, then uploads the video to an FTP server or computer hard drive. Network Video Recorders capture video streams from remote IP cameras and video servers and store the footage on a hard disc. Video management software provides the tools for sophisticated recording and event management. Using IP video software, operators can program for continuous, scheduled, and event-triggered recording.
Video motion detection is a useful tool that allows you to program your network camera to begin recording, and perform other functions such as sending automated email alerts, when movement is detected within a scene. The functionality comes either built-in with your IP camera, or through video management software.
There are a number of advantages to using motion detection. Since you can limit recording to situations when activity is taking place, motion detection helps to conserve bandwidth, saves storage space, reduces CPU load on recording servers, and also allows for integration with other systems such as alarms and access control systems. The system can be set up so that unless movement is detected, no video is being recorded. It can also be programmed to send video at a low frame-rate until motion is perceived.
A number of actions can be triggered using motion detection. Examples include: saving images before or after an event, delivering video images to specific locations for recording or monitoring, sending email and phone alerts, activating door locks and lights, sounding alarms, and more.
Many IP camera models offer audio support. Some feature built-in microphones that allow operators to listen in on areas under surveillance, while others provide for two-way audio communication using a microphone and external speaker. Audio is transmitted across your network the same way video footage is, so setting up a surveillance system that captures audio is as simple as hooking up your cameras. Using either a built-in or external microphone, the camera captures the audio, integrates it into the video stream, and streams it over the network for monitoring and recording.
Just like network video, audio footage can be accessed from remote locations. Users can monitor and listen in on areas within range of the cameras, and with a two-way audio setup can even talk to those under the camera's watch. The cameras can also be programmed to deliver recorded messages informing possible perpetrators that they're under watch. Another useful function is audio detection. This is the process where a network camera is set to record when the audio level reaches a certain mark. Audio detection can also be used to trigger alarms and send alerts.
Digital Input & Output
Digital input and output ports are available in various network video products, including many IP camera models. Digital input/outputs (or digital I/Os) allow you to connect the camera to external devices such as motion and sound detectors, smoke detectors, doorbells and door locks, glass-break detectors, and of course alarm systems. Communication between the network devices can be managed remotely from a PC with network access, or automatically using the camera's built-in features.
Digital I/Os can help to limit video transmissions so that video is sent over the network only when one of the network devices is triggered by an event such as motion detection, audio level, or the opening of a door. This process optimizes bandwidth usage and conserves storage space. Digital I/Os also allow for the automatic triggering of specific actions such as capturing and saving images, sending automated alerts via email or phone, and activating lights, alarms, and door locks.
The main function of an IP camera's input port is to support devices such as sensors and detectors, while the output port allows the camera to trigger external devices and activate specific actions, for instance sirens, alarms, and event-triggers video transfers.
Video analytics are sophisticated applications and software algorithms that perform analysis of surveillance video as it's being captured. While there are many potential benefits to using video analytics, the main aim of the technology is to enable surveillance systems to not just capture video footage for post-event investigation, but to actually detect suspicious activity as it happens. In that sense, video analytics serve to provide a form of preventative surveillance.
Some of the more common surveillance applications that fall under the video analytics umbrella include advanced motion detection, facial recognition, behavioral recognition, audio detection, license plate recognition, and the ability to detect very specific events such as a person leaving behind an object, or acts of graffiti and vandalism.
Video analytics can either be built into the network camera, or work as part of a video management software platform. With the introduction of megapixel IP cameras, this technology has become increasingly popular and effective. While the technology is applicable to a range of applications, it's most commonly used for surveillance in high-security locations such as banks, airports, and government facilities. Some banks, for instance, now use facial recognition to identify individuals suspected of check fraud and other criminal activities.
Since the technology is relatively new, the various impacts of video analytics are still being weighed. As the technology improves, and more options become available, we can expect to see different forms of video analytics used for everything from preventing crime and speeding up response times, to reducing false alarms and optimizing video storage space.