SECURITY: IP video systems are changing surveillance
The development and advancement of IP video systems has increased the effectiveness of casino surveillance in a number of ways. But along with these advantages, the new networked systems also require adjustments in surveillance operations.
Technical differences in how the systems function-related to live viewing, reviewing archived footage and system maintenance-have several ramifications for casino surveillance operations. Here are some ways these systems are different and the operational impact of those differences:
• Operator interface has changed. Most analog systems were controlled by a CCTV-specific joystick, but the main control of IP systems involves a PC keyboard and mouse. This combination provides the user greater control of the system, usually through a graphical or logical layout that is more intuitive than having to memorize monitor and camera numbers. Some IP systems still use a joystick to aid in pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) control, but the joystick usually supplements the PC keyboard and mouse. Simplified user interface creates a more effective use of monitors and monitor walls and prevents operators from missing events because they can’t remember which camera is in the area.
• Latency is a challenge for PTZ control. Latency is defined as the time lag between when a user sends a PTZ control command and when that action is displayed on the screen. Latency often leads to over-panning when a user stops at a desired position but the camera continues to pan for the latency time. Because of latency, zooming should not be used to the same extent as with analog systems. When zoomed-in on an object, it is more difficult to pan and tilt the camera. With the introduction of megapixel PTZ cameras, increased resolution is used to compensate for limited usability of zooming. To further compensate for the limitation of IP latency, manufacturers have introduced 360-degree cameras that use virtual PTZ to pan and tilt throughout the scenes.
• More flexibility in viewing. Monitor viewing options have increased dramatically with IP systems. Multiplexers have been embedded within the viewing applications, allowing system flexibility by displaying multiple cameras on a single monitor. These multi-view displays, in conjunction with high-definition monitors, provide the needed detail for effective surveillance.
• Expansion of investigation review areas. IP systems have the ability to display live video and play back archived video on the same monitor. This ability allows investigations to occur anywhere, no longer limited to review areas. Operators can identify a current situation and review archived video to see exactly how it came to occur. A single operator can actively monitor and review any situation.
• More integration with other systems. IP surveillance systems take integration to the next level. Everything is on the network, from human resources to point-of-sale systems to inventory control. Merging data from the various departments with the surveillance system can allow departments to see video corresponding to data. This ability requires the surveillance department to change its operation by sharing viewing and control of the video with other departments.
• Broader skill set required of surveillance technicians. There is also a shift in the qualifications needed for a surveillance technician. Technicians must now have broader training that incorporates both camera knowledge and networking. Many surveillance departments supplement their network knowledge by working more closely with the IT department. Schools and training programs do not teach the needed skills as a single curriculum. Even with IP megapixel cameras, there are still required analog camera skills to focus, adjust the brightness, change the color balance, etc. Because networking is digital, technicians need to know about network protocols, bandwidth IP addressing and subnetting in order to configure and expand a system. Finding a new technician with both skills is rare; finding two technicians with complementary skills is sometimes the optimal maintenance solution.
The goal of new IP video systems is greater efficiency, which also requires adjustments in surveillance operations. The adjustments relate to everything from how a user interfaces with the system to the needed skill set of surveillance technicians. IP systems offer benefits such as greater integration with other networked systems and departments, and more flexibility in how systems are configured and operate. However, transitioning to IP surveillance is more than a technology change. It also involves a multi-faceted adjustment in how surveillance departments operate. Re-thinking the operational aspects of video surveillance in the context of the greater functionality and greater efficiency is essential to realizing the maximum benefit of the transition to an IP system