Surveillance for Security, Productivity and Management
Let’s briefly talk about reasons to invest in a video surveillance system and some specific applications.

The first thing that comes to mind is security, but you may also want to consider productivity and personnel management.

Video Surveillance for Security
Organizations large and small everywhere in the world need to protect their personnel and physical assets. It is incumbent upon management to do that in the most cost-effective way possible:
  • The cost to install the system
  • The cost to have someone use the system
If you invest in video surveillance, ideally someone is going to be watching those cameras night and day. We talk about using live video to identify incidents as they happen, as well as recorded video that can be used as forensic evidence to actually show what happened after the fact.

Analytics such as motion detection can focus the person’s attention in real time, trigger alert messages from cameras that are unmanaged and make it easier to find incidents in recorded video.

But how do you actively secure your assets and control expenses?

Think in terms of image quality and how many cameras are needed to provide that level of detail.

The exciting thing about cameras with higher and higher resolution is the ability to use fewer cameras to cover the same area. We call this "cost savings through a reduction of cameras." Now, having said that, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is as easy as applying the calculation of 2+2=4. In other words, you might say to yourself that a 1080p camera should be able to replace 2.7 VGA cameras when you compare resolution to resolution. That may indeed work for some applications, but design consultants (Architects & Engineers or A&Es) can help you look at the whole area to be covered and show you where it makes sense to use fewer cameras and where it would not be appropriate.

In addition to higher resolution sensors, a tremendous modern innovation is the multi-sensor camera — many cameras in one housing. These gems entered the market as four-sensor solutions to provide 180° and 360° views in fixed configurations. Today, multiple sensors have been made user-configurable, literally making it possible to have four independent cameras in one housing. You can set up those sensors for a traditional panoramic view or you can point them at independent scenes such as at the intersection of hallways or the corner of a building. You still get the advantage of multiple sensors as a single (one) network connection and only one license needed to record the feeds in popular video management software (VMS).

Traditional fisheye panoramics are great for covering 180° and 360° views of smaller areas like classrooms or waiting rooms. An advanced VMS like DW Spectrum™ IPVMS makes it easy to dewarp and view the images.

It is important to note that whereas multi-sensor cameras and high resolution were previously the domain of IP video surveillance systems, DW® has introduced to the market a 6 megapixel three-sensor 180° HD analog camera and a user-configuarable 8 megapixel HD analog four-sensor camera. These cameras and all HD analog equipment breathe new ROI into existing coax infrastructure.

You can condense everything I have said to this point as follows:
  • Video surveillance for general surveillance (wide areas)
  • Video surveillance for choke points
That is what security operators should be watching. Using an open air shopping mall as an example, a high-resolution camera or multi-sensor camera can provide a view of the entire area, and additional cameras can be positioned to provide constant detailed views of shop entrances and entrances to the mall (choke points or places where people congregate in quantity). PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras can also be used to move from choke point to choke point by an operator or on a preset tour.

As another example, in a parking lot you can monitor the whole thing and apply individual cameras to capture license plates at the entrances and exits.

Today, it is possible for a security operator to watch multiple scenes on one or two HD monitors providing an overall view and additional windows with the choke points. When suspicious activity is noticed in the wide view, attention can instantly be directed to the appropriate choke point camera or digitally zoom into the high resolution wide angle or multi-sensor camera feed. Some VMS software (like DW Spectrum™ IPVMS) allows you to instantly create multiple detailed scenes from a single high-resolution camera view. A PTZ speed dome can also easily be applied to follow the live action.

This is all about doing more with less, whether it be the lower cost of using fewer cameras (and so fewer recording licenses, less cabling and installation/maintenance costs) or reduced personnel costs.

Video Surveillance for Productivity
We live in a time when companies must get the most from their employees in order to survive, let alone prosper. How can surveillance cameras make employees more productive?

I gave one example earlier by explaining how a single security operator can monitor multiple cameras (one person securing a large area).

We have come to take automation for granted, but the reality is that those fine-tuned systems must be monitored constantly. We can choose to believe that someone pushes a button and a million sandwich cookies are baked, assembled, packaged and boxed, but the reality is that someone is always watching to make sure that each part of the process is happening correctly.

Video surveillance can be applied for fewer people to oversee multiple processes. Analytics can be further applied to alert when things are not running as expected, reducing personnel and personal error.

Video Surveillance for Personnel Management
There are many who believe that the most effective style of personnel management is “management by walking around.” It is hard to argue with that. But how many companies have the luxury of hiring managers whose only responsibility is to “just watch those guys.”

By applying video surveillance, a manager can sit in his or her office pounding away at reports and correspondence while simultaneously monitoring the actions of the employees. Mix in a little walking around and you have a hybrid system for management where everyone is more productive. Oh, and analytics can be used to alert the manager when expected activity has stopped.

Summary
Instead of looking at video surveillance as “the cost of doing business,” my suggestion is to look to video surveillance as a way to reduce the cost of doing business.
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