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Digital CCTV: Not Just for Security Anymore

Technology has improved dramatically

The ubiquitous digital closed-circuit television camera, a video surveillance staple, is finding wide adoption beyond the security industry as agencies and companies employ the devices for everything from monitoring factory performance to overseeing safety procedures at a Midwestern transportation hub. A Tibetan Buddhist-based spiritual retreat in Malaysia even uses a network of cameras to preserve the peace on the grounds and improve the experience for those who visit, seeking spiritual solace.

CCTV, video systems that transmit a signal to a specific place, has had a recent revolution that moved the technology onto IP networks. In the process, the cameras are now often referred to as IP or network cameras.

The technology has improved dramatically over the past decade, with upgraded megapixel sensors and the ability to record directly to network-attached storage devices or internal flash memory for a completely standalone operation.

The Lilin IPC1022 camera can be separated from its electronics module by up to 18 feet.

The fact that each camera can be given a unique IP address has also driven its popularity, said Joe Cook, vice president for North America for Merit Lilin USA. The Taiwanese parent company, Lilin, is a manufacturer of IP video cameras, recording devices and software.

“Each network camera has an IP address,” Cook said. “When governments or agencies used an analog camera, you could mix up the source of a recording in a large network. With an IP camera at the end of cable run in the woods, you just plug into the network device and find out what the address of the camera is.”

Power over Ethernet, the ability to power cameras without a separate electric supply, is also another advantage, Cook said. The company’s new IPC0122 IP camera, which allows users to position a tiny pinhole camera head up to 18 feet away from the main unit, is a good example of the power over Ethernet advantage.

Maxport J.S.C., a rapidly growing Vietnamese manufacturer of products for American brands such as Nike, Patagonia and Reebok, wanted a camera network that would not only provide security but improve productivity. The company used a Lilin network and video surveillance software to create an interactive system combining several sites and offering live streaming.

A total of 181 Lilin IP-based cameras were installed indoors and outdoors at five different factories. The cameras provided for clear monitoring of factory workers’ movements, events of interest and product-line activities in an integrated single view for managers.

The cameras increase efficiency by making sure things run right, Cook said. If a robot on an automated production line sends a part down the wrong line, an IP camera can detect the mistake, send a cell phone alert to the floor supervisors, who then can shut down the line before further problems occur.

IP cameras cost a little more than older traditional CCTV cameras, but are much simpler to integrate. Due to their networking capabilities, you can quickly and inexpensively create large networks of cameras that would have been impossible in an analog world.

For example, the spiritual retreat in Malaysia plans to install 500 Lilin IP cameras for indoor and outdoor areas that will feature intelligent identification of persons or objects of interest under high-contrast lighting conditions.


Miller Transportation, a Midwestern charter bus company, recently finished a $5 million state-of-the-art facility in Louisville, Ky. However, the company wanted its video system to go the extra mile, not only providing visual recordings of everyday threats, such as vandalism or theft, but also giving management vantage points to remotely monitor the goings-on’s inside the maintenance center with its bus lifts, wash bays, fueling station and mechanics. Additionally, Miller wanted cameras to capture buses coming in and out from its busy parking lot in the event of an accident.

Toshiba IKS-6112A IP camera

Miller installed a Toshiba NVSe network video recorder in both the garage and the office building. Each NVSe is equipped with its own separate NIC card, keeping camera traffic off the company’s LAN. The Toshiba Surveillix central station software is installed on the NVSe units for complete remote access, set-up control, user administration, video backup and live viewing.

IP pricing is also important. The new Toshiba IKS-WD6112 camera reduces IP infrastructure costs and complexity and makes setup a snap. And, at less than two inches high, it can be installed in locations where standard cameras would be obtrusive.

“We are at a key inflection point,” said Tri Nguyen, marketing support engineer for Toshiba America Information Systems. “Analog technology still enjoys a cost advantage but IP cameras—especially those with PTZ technology and in the one-megapixel (720p) range—have significantly reduced it. Also, the widespread availability of managed or hosted video undermines analog/coax system advantages in small- to mid-size deployments. As IP matures, it will further reduce the price gap.”


The Moxa VPort 16-M12 is used by the Montreal Metro to monitor train cars.

Moxa Americas, with a U.S. base in Brea, Calif., provides a line of hardened networking, communication and computing devices that is increasingly being adopted by railroad and transportation companies.

The Montreal Metro subway system this year is finishing up an upgrade, enhancing video surveillance on more than 50 trains and almost 500 subway cars. The Moxa VPort 16-M12 EN 50155-compliant IP cameras were selected as the rear-facing camera for the makeover.

The VPort 16-M12’s built-in CCD sensor provides good image quality in low illumination environments, and the metal housing and glass lens cover are fire and corrosion resistant. In addition, Moxa’s CBR Pro function provides accurate bit-rate control to minimize packet loss, ensuring good image quality when bandwidth is limited.

“IP-based CCTV systems are becoming an absolute requirement for railway public safety,” said Leo Tsao, senior director of Moxa Railway Automation Solutions division. “Effective video surveillance protects passenger safety and makes train operations more efficient, which has led to increased investment in onboard IP CCTV systems.”

One of the important things is to get all the cameras within a transportation system to work together, said Jei Mercado, a Moxa technical support engineer.

“Some of older public transportation systems have analog systems and they may want a new digital system along with the legacy system,” Mercado said. “They want to upload everything they have and have it all work together in the system. We make sure our cameras will work with other devices in the system.”

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Moxa supplies cameras to rail systems and its transportation cousin, bus lines. One notable application these days is the addition of a camera on the outside of the bus, Mercado said. Operators want to catch the license plate number and image of any wayward driver who has hit the bus and fled without exchanging information with the driver, Mercado said.

“These days it’s more than just passenger safety,” Mercado said. “Now the camera is viewing the perpetrator who hits the bus.”


A hardcore video surveillance company, IPVideo Corporation located on New York’s Long Island, has found a broad market for its video management platform, which is used in more than 100 school districts in the New York metro area. Other multiple vertical markets have emerged, including government, corporate, transportation, higher education and healthcare.

“We are constantly refining our products to fulfill special requests from our customers,” said Jack Plunkett, chief technology officer of IPVideo. “The huge benefit of the IP camera is the high definition [image] and the functions that can take advantage of high def.”

For example, state regulators are using an IPVideo system to record the certification process of foreign doctors seeking a medical license in this country, Plunkett said. So far, government regulators have recorded at least 100,000 of the video applications using the company’s AV Fusion custom-built recording system. It has sped up the certification process, allowing regulators to make better decisions and weed out the unworthy candidates, Plunkett said.

The benefit of AV Fusion is that it’s easy to install and use. Recording is as simple as clicking a button and recorded files can be shared and viewed using standard multimedia players installed on everyone’s computers, tablets and phones, Plunkett said.

The recording is transmitted over the network to a central recording location. Users can connect a bunch of cameras to a single AV Fusion video server and record multiple sessions simultaneously.

To make it easy to keep track, AV Fusion assigns a name, description and other key identifiers to each session, allowing users to quickly ascertain video clip contents, even among hundreds or thousands of files. In addition, searchable notes and bookmarks can be added to each video, either during the recording process or during subsequent playback, he said.


JVCKenwood VR-D1008 digital CCTV recorder with 1 TB onboard storage

Electronics giant JVCKenwood USA has introduced a new Super LoLux series of digital video recorders for the government CCTV market. Available in four-channel, eight-channel and 16-channel models, the affordable standalone DVRs use H.264 video compression to reduce file size. John Grabowski, the JVCKenwood’s national sales and marketing manager for security products, said that one of the company’s goals was high reliability.

“Although many companies build products to meet specific price points, the best companies engineer their video surveillance products with robust designs that will endure and address the specific needs and conditions of the surveillance market,” he said. “However, the process of replacing that camera can be very expensive for the end user or the system integrator.

“The cost of sending a technician up a ladder to replace a failed video surveillance camera often costs more than the camera itself,” he said.