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Network Recorders Enable CCTV Video To Be Seen

Wired or wireless, networks or digital choices available

The first closed-circuit television (CCTV) system was used in 1942 for observation of V-2 rocket launches at Test Stand VII in Peenemunde, Germany. “Vericon,” the first commercial CCTV, became available in the United States in 1949. Not much is known about Vericon except that it was advertised as not needing a government permit to operate.

QNAP’s VioStor

In September 1968 the first use of CCTV to prevent crime in the United States occurred in Olean, N.Y. Images of the main business street were transmitted to the Olean Police Department momentarily putting the city at the vanguard of law enforcement technology. Video surveillance technology has come a long way since.

Not too long ago, S-VHS was the best technology available for recording security video, but now it is almost phased out. For two reasons, the first is that for criminal prosecution, images must be digitized into a computer system and edited with the aid of specialized software, and the second is that the archiving video cassettes takes a lot of space.

Currently, most CCTV systems record and store video and images to a digital video recorder (DVR), which contain a video capture card and analog cameras send signals to them by either wire or wireless means. Video is recorded on a hard drive. The makers of so-called proprietary DVRs maintain exclusive control over the software in their devices used to play back video. Those systems pose problems for law enforcement and video analysts, but there are measures that can be taken to solve those problems.

Network video recorders (NVR) are customized servers designed for the purpose of processing images from Internet provider (IP) camera systems on a dedicated network. Cameras capture and encode the video, as is the initial video compression to reduce the need for massive bandwidth. Video is sent to any location via IP.

Dotworkz’s NVR-5TB ‘Bay of Plenty’


Law enforcement entities are thus faced with the quandary of whether to stick with the DVR or switch to NVR. Factors they must consider include installation, testing, support, redundancy and training.

“Many government enterprise-level IT administrators are still leery of overwhelming their current IP network with too much CCTV video data,” says Larry Compton, operations manager for Forensic Video Solutions in Spokane, Wash. Law enforcement officials must also consider the cost of installing a completely separate IP network for CCTV and security applications, he adds.

In many cases, analog cameras cannot be connected to NVRs since they are only capable of receiving video transmissions over an IP network. But some NVRs using video encoders and supporting recording software can provide a hybrid system where analog and IP cameras can coexist. Several companies have developed software for this purpose or software to convert a DVR into an NVR. An NVR can be created with just software that is loaded into compatible hardware.

Digital Watchdog’s DW- Nexus 32-8000

As technology improves and the price of equipment drops, the use of NVRs is becoming more commonplace, Compton says. “Historically, NVRs have been marketed to the medium-to-large enterprises,” and those organizations had at least some of the infrastructure already in place to support them, he said. With the advances in technology, the cost of operating a network has declined, and high-speed Internet has become more omnipresent, and while prices have dropped. “NVRs have become a viable option,” he says.


However, each piece of equipment has the potential to alter video to a degree that impacts the recording’s usability. Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has undertaken an effort to create guidelines for ensuring that systems adhere to standards that can be applied to a broad range of CCTV applications.

“A video system must deliver video to the end users in such a way that they are able to accurately recognize objects and take action based on what they see,” according to a report compiled by DHS’ Video Quality in Public Safety Working Group (VQPSWG).

“For instance, the scene of interest could be a large crowd on a train platform, a license plate on a moving vehicle, or a plume of smoke, and an end user’s task might be to view a scene in real time through the video apparatus and alert emergency responder officials if something is awry,” the VQPSWG says. “Alternatively, the video apparatus may capture and record footage for an end user to review at a later date,” the working group says.

General Electric’s TruVision NVR 40

The ability to effectively monitor these types of scenarios can be enhanced with video analytics software. Key video analytics applications include people counting; motion tracking; left item detection; object classification; removed item detection; virtual fence/perimeter breach; vehicle counting; wrong direction and loitering.

Core system functions support three primary tasks of acquiring, delivering and viewing video, according to DHS.


The latest model NVRs should offer quick set-up (usually plug and play) and easy operation, automatic camera registration, an intuitive graphic user interface (GUI) and, because they are IP-based, remote access from anywhere in the world. Also featured are intelligent search functions to help shuttle through non-essential video and an array of intelligent video analytics.

The Digital Watchdog DW-Nexus 32-8000 is a 32 channel NVR with an eight-terabyte hard disk drive (HDD). It handles up to 32 IP cameras and features a Radeon X300 video card. It has a Windows XP operating system. Advanced features include multi-levels of security access, advanced POS ATM support, recording at the encoding resolution of the IP camera, digital signature support for tamper-proof exporting and password control.

Panasonic’s WJ-ND400

The Panasonic WJ-ND400 Terabyte NVR supports up to 64 cameras and installation of up to nine hot-plug HDD and up to five extension units each with another nine HDD. Surveillance footage is not interrupted when an HDD is removed. Built-in features include mirroring, scheduled recording, external timer recording and event recording.

The Dotworkz NVR-5TB Bay of Plenty IP Recorder 2U System comes pre-installed with Windows 2008 Server and becomes a fully functional NVR with the addition of a 30-day trial of surveillance software. It has the Intel Quad-Core Xeon processor, 4GB of RAM and five terabytes of hot-swappable storage of one terabytes each. An on-board RAID array (a technology that provides increased storage functions and reliability through redundancy) allows information to be retrieved from another functioning drive should a HDD fail. A built-in DVD burner makes it easy to record event material.

QNAP’s VioStor offers up to 16 terabytes of storage and a hot-swap for HDD. Monitoring and playback is conducted with the aid of digital zoom and easy data search with date & time, timeline, event, and intelligent video analytics. File security is enhanced with digital watermarking. Installation is completed in six steps.

The General Electric (GE) TruVision NVR 40 records up to 48 IP video streams in multiple formats. The GE UltraView Discovery 105E and H.264- SVC encoder allows integration of any analog camera. The NVR is compatible with IP, GE Ultraview IP, GE Legend IP, GE IP H.264-SVC, Axis, Panasonic and ACTI cameras.

The BiKal PureMobile Network Video series records from four to 16 analog or IP cameras including MegaPixel cameras for high definition CCTV images. It supports options for video analytics, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), GPS and connection to a communication suite that includes fax, printer and live database queries. WiFi and 3G mobile broadband options are also available.


During September Canadian investigators teamed up with more than 30 forensic video experts from around the world at the University of Indianapolis’ Digital Multimedia Evidence Processing lab to process and analyze 1,600 hours of digital video from the riots in Vancouver, British Columbia that followed the Stanley Cup finals in June. The response team was activated through the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA) to inspect more than a million photographs of suspects.

The video was shot and turned in by concerned citizens who mainly used their cameras and cell phones. Cars were burned and property was damaged and looted in the riot zone. Several rioters turned themselves in after their images were shown on television, but no new arrests have been made recently. The scope of the effort to identify the Vancouver culprits is comparable to analysis done following recent riots in London, but the British have one video recording standard.