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If you saw the extremely popular movie The Martian this fall, did you happen to spot the cameos by Mobotix cameras?
The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney as he attempts to survive being left behind on Mars by working with the supplies he has and a background as a botanist, along with mission control at NASA and his fellow crewmembers onboard the Hermes spaceship.
These surveillance cameras allow crewmembers and mission control to monitor actives on the spaceship and spot issues as soon as they happen. Down here on Earth both of these cameras are just as useful - with IP66-rated outdoor housing and HD resolution, Mobotix cameras are used by businesses in every industry.
The newest whitepaper is now available from VideoSurveillance.com - introducing Solutions by Role: A Quick Guide to Increased Security. This comprehensive overview looks into video surveillance system management from the perspective of five positions within an organization:
- Small business owner
- IT director
- General manager
- Security director
- Construction project manager
Each section looks at the security challenges faced by businesses, the ways in which modern video surveillance systems can help improve security and business operations, and a list of frequently asked questions.
License plate recognition, or LPR, is an incredibly useful software feature that allows you to track traffic, control entry into your business, find stolen vehicles, and much more. But do you know how LPR works and when to use it?
License plate recognition software is based on a database - your camera captures video of the license plate numbers and then either stores it for later use, or compares it to an existing database. For example:
- Secured & gated entrances, such as military bases or permit-based parking garages, will automatically compare each approaching vehicle's license plate to a database of authorized personnel, and only open the gates if that license plate number is on the list
- Parking enforcement officials can record cars as they enter and park, giving them a video to refer to if cars go over the time limit or attempt in and out parking
- Police and other law officials can review local traffic videos to search for the license plates of stolen vehicles or suspected cars in other crimes
To record these videos, however, you'll need a specialized system and camera setup. This includes:
- Video management software with advanced options for license plate recognition
- Cameras installed in locations that are at the right height to record license plates
- Low speed limits for oncoming traffic, so the camera has long enough to focus on each car as it approaches
- Proper lighting, either external or built-in IRs, to combat harsh overhead lighting in parking garages or dark shadows in underground structures
LPR is available on a wide range of video management software, including industry leading Milestone. Their Milestone XProtect LPR software includes database searching, filtering, and sorting, along with alarms if your system detects an unknown or blacklisted license plate.
Construction sites face a wide range of challenges, from heavy machinery that needs to be handled carefully to material loss from theft and vandalism. As Construction Project Manager you'll need to secure your employees, materials, and site - and VideoSurveilalnce.com is here to help.
Why should you consider installing or upgrading a site surveillance system?
- Video can be used to increase worker safety & reduce injuries
- Surveillance can deter equipment & material theft
- Prevent vandalism & trespassing
- Reduce liability for your company by increasing safety
When it comes to the surveillance systems themselves, you will have many choices. Modern IP-based systems are flexible and easily customized, so you can create a system that is best suited for your site. You should look for:
- HD resolution
- Wireless systems
- Mobile & remote monitoring
One solution that is popular with construction sites are temporary security towers. These mobile systems come with all the equipment you need, and the cameras and lights come attached to towers so you can install them without modifying your existing structures.
Are you a construction project manager looking to learn more? Read our full page on video surveillance systems for construction.
High definition resolution is quickly becoming the go-to standard in video surveillance systems; HD cameras record larger, more detailed videos compared to non-HD models, allowing you to more easily recognize suspicious activity.
But HD won't matter if your system has other problems that render HD irrelevant. Some reasons your system might be struggling:
- Extreme top-down angle - Your camera may have great resolution, but an extreme top-down angle won't allow you to recognize anyone
- Field of view too wide - HD cameras are great at capturing details, but a field of view that's too wide wont' allow you to focus in on the important areas
- Insects & dirt on the camera - IR lights allow you to record at night, but they also attract bugs that can block your view.
Do any of these problems seem familiar? Right now we're offering a free 20 minute system evaluation, performed by our surveillance experts, to help you identify problems and solutions.
Video compression is an essential part of recording and saving security camera footage, because it compresses the raw files into a smaller format. This allows you to store more videos on your hard drive. There are three types of video compression:
- H.264 compression - This is the best, most efficient way to compress your video files. It compresses the files by evaluating small groups of images together and removing duplicates.
- MJPEG compression - This format works by evaluating each frame of the video and compressing it. This is also referred to as motion JPEG, because it treats each frame as an individual JPEG image.
- MPEG4 compression - This is the oldest format, and is not commonly used. It has largely been replaced by H.264 compression.
What makes video compression an important part of your surveillance is the ability to compress files - this maximizes your hard drive space so you can store more videos for longer periods of time before your hard drive is full.
Large video files become a problem when you record extremely long videos, or high quality HD videos. A 30 second video your camera automatically records on motion won't be very large, but a 10 minute video of a break-in at your store will. Additionally, a video recorded at 5MP and a full 30 FPS will be helpful in identifying suspects in a video, but also be a very large file.
Earlier this month, VideoSurveillance.com merged with Camguard, a California-based provider of managed video surveillance services.
Please reference the press release for additional details.
We are very excited about the additional services and capabilities we can now offer as a combined company!
For our clients and partners, we will continue to work with you as we always have and will continue to operate from Portland, OR.
In the coming weeks and months we will begin to rollout new remote video monitoring services, actively monitored "camera towers," and full-service security integration.
Please contact us if you have any questions or want to know more!
After you've purchased and installed your video surveillance system, the important steps of on-going maintenance of the system begins.
It may be tempting to assume everything is fine and won't need a lot monitoring, but we highly recommend that you follow these basic steps to keep your system healthy and performing well - it's better to prevent an outage than realize the system was down after a crime has been committed.
Daily tasks should focus on ensuring your equipment is powered up and connected:
- Checking your server's power, if you use one
- Checking the connection and feed of ALL your cameras
Weekly tasks should focus on updates and exports:
- Running Windows system updates
- Running a full virus and malware scan
- Exporting any requested videos
Monthly tasks should focus on your system's settings:
- Running firmware upgrades
- Checking all motion detection settings
- Update your system's security, including removing old users and changing passwords
Yearly tasks should focus on the health of your system's equipment:
- HHD defrag and RAM scan
- RAID health check, if you're using a RAID setup
Want to learn more about keeping your system healthy? Contact our surveillance experts today.
Wide dynamic range, or WDR, is an essential tool for getting clear, balanced videos without over- or underexposed sections. If your business has a large window, bright lights but dim hallways, or covered areas like parking garages that are extremely dark compared to the garage entrances and exits, WDR is something you should use.
What WDR does to help your videos remain clear even when you have dark and bright areas is to balance the lighting of both extremes into one consistent level throughout the image.
For example, a retail store may have a large window front that makes up a large portion of one wall; when someone walks in front of the window they will appear extremely dark compared to the window, and a standard camera may not record any recognizable features. With WDR, the lighting would be balanced so the window and person are both clear.
How does WDR work? WDR is actually made up of several features and factors. First, cameras with WDR have advanced light sensors that are more sensitive than standard surveillance cameras. This allows the camera to record better in a range of lighting, including low-light.
Second, the camera or its software will balance the lighting. This can actually happen in one of two ways. With tone mapping, the camera or the software will automatically brighten or darken areas. This is the standard method most surveillance cameras will use.
The other way is to record several versions of the exact same video at different exposure levels. Those overexposed and underexposed videos, along with the normal video, are then combined and the final video you see is the combined image. This type of WDR is only available on higher level professional cameras, however, because it requires an extremely fast light sensor.
IT departments are increasingly taking responsibility for the researching, purchasing, and managing of video surveillance systems. Before your team tackles this new project, do you know the three challenges most IT departments face and how to prevent them?
A joint study by Axis Communications and ESG (Enterprise Strategy Group) found three common challenges IT departments face when managing a surveillance system: searching for video files in archived footage, managing the volume of data, and the impact of an IP system on their network's bandwidth. Read the research brief from Axis and ESG.
The best way to manage the impact of a surveillance system on your bandwidth will depend on your system's design. The best option is to separate your system's video and data traffic onto a different LAN or VLAN from the rest of your business. Additionally, your network should be gigabit or 10gig speeds. If that's not an option, or the system is still slow, take a look at these settings:
Our security experts can help evaluate your system and suggest ways to improve bandwidth performance. Want to learn more about IT challenges, or get expert advice on managing data and security? Download our free IT Guide to Video Surveillance.