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July 15th, 2010

Even people who keep up on surveillance technology are amazed by the Surveillance Cameralatest hardware, some of which we highlighted in an April blog on security hardware. With wireless cameras the size of coat buttons and point-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras with optical and digital close-ups of 50-100X or more, the field is full of great gear. In addition to the latest miniature marvels and futuristic hardware devices, there’s a new generation of surveillance software, too, that’s nothing short of amazing.

With the right equipment and setup, a business owner can watch over his 20,000 square-foot store, the warehouse in the back and every approaching street and sidewalk, too. Early on in the computer era (back with the VCRs in the Stone Age, the 1980s) one of the first ideas for surveillance systems was to split the screen and let you see two camera views at once. That is a quaint memory now that today’s software lets you view 16 or even 32 cameras in any grouping that you like, across one, two or three monitors – even a monitor wall, if you want.

Total flexibility

There are commercial software packages that are quite capable, even bordering on consciousness, after a fashion. Then, too, there are any number of proprietary applications that are bundled with certain manufacturers’ gear, and you can always hire a programmer to create something special for your unique needs. Most of these packages will share common capabilities, and differ on the implementation, the number of cameras supported and connectivity schemes. However, they all share a common feature set.

You can record the camera feeds if you choose, and often into various formats and on various media. Gone are the days when all surveillance video feeds were recorded to VHS tapes, a costly approach and an archivist’s nightmare. Today the video can be compressed and saved to hard drives, flash memory or burnable CDs/DVDs. With the advent of Blu-ray recorders, 25 and 50GB of video can be written to single- and double-sided discs, respectively.

Compressed with quality

New compression schemes such as mpeg4, particularly Apple’s h.264 version, reduce video files to a fraction of their original size, while maintaining excellent quality. These compression schemes are called “lossy” since there is some loss of original information. There are also “lossless” compression schemes if it is important to save as much detail as possible while still conserving storage space. Remember, the former tools squeeze the files smaller than the latter ones.

You are advised to check out a variety of compressed video types to see what you will get from your system. You need to know the quality of the archived video before you can decide how to proceed. Then you can calculate just how much media you will need to save what you are recording. It may also be, of course, that you only save segments of the video stream in which there is movement or other activity. The hardware and software available today can be motion-sensitive, light-sensitive, sound-sensitive or some combination, in order to trigger the recording only when it is necessary.

CRE follows all the different high-tech trends, even for technology we don’t rent, as part of our commitment to helping you prepare for whatever comes your way. Need some PC or Mac computer rentals or Xserve RAID rentals for an important project? Simply fill out the Quick Rental Quote form and we’ll be on it right away. There’s no time to spare. The future is headed our way and it’s coming fast!

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