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SMPTE Standards Coming to CCTV Surveillance Systems

Specification v1.0, based on SMPTE HD-SDI standards.

A CCTV imaging chip from OmniVision
Founded in May 2009, the HDcctv Alliance, an international consortium focused on the surveillance industry, has hit the ground running. Alliance members, which include AltaSens, Comart, COP UK, CSST, blueCaps, EverFocus, Gennum, OmniVision, OVii, Pixim, and Stretch, had been separately building HDcctv prototypes, but came together to standardize HD-SDI protocol surveillance needs.

by Nancy Caronia

These founding members knew that they wanted to be part of a common standard and according to Alliance’s executive director and chairman Todd E. Rockoff, no one wanted to build prototypes that would “lead down the path of non-compliance and market propriety limitations. These innovators recognized the need for a common standard that would allow end-use customers to mix and match from a variety of manufacturers.”

The Alliance has come together quickly and is set to ratify the first of its HDcctv standards- Specification v1.0, which is based on SMPTE HD-SDI standards. The quick development of Version 1.0 is due in part to a license agreement between the Alliance and SMPTE that allows the Alliance to use some of SMPTE’s HDTV specifications.

“Version 1.0 is the signaling, which is close to HDTV standards,” said Rockoff. “Version 1.0 reflects the SMPTE standard in terms of formatting the data and laying the groundwork for later generations.”

Subsequent versions will provide a long-reach mode, which will enable HD applications to use coaxial cable up to 300 meters, up-the-cable control, which will enable the “camera and receiver to handshake,” said Rockoff, and power and bi-directional audio, which can assist in remote alarm verification.

In addition to promoting HDcctv industry standards, the Alliance will also provide education to the surveillance industry, and once Version 1.0 has been ratified, products can pass through a compliance testing and those companies whose products pass will be able to display the HDcctv Alliance logo. Government users are offered a free associate membership in the alliance that will allow them to keep up on developments.

While the discussion between HDcctv versus IPTV protocols has been hot and heavy as of late, Rockoff suggested that the security industry has always followed the advances of the broadcast industry—not the IP world.

“CCTV has developed over 30 years,” he said. “End-users value its closed security protocols. IP confuses the chain of evidence. In HDcctv you can prove that the DVR is connected to the camera. The police tag it like a gun and can take it to the warehouse. With IP cameras, there are various issues with playback.”

OVii CEO Craig Scott is also gunning for simple standards.

“I’m a firm believer in developing technologies that are easier, not harder,” he said. “People change for four reasons-the new products are faster, better, cheaper, and easier. IP cameras fail on all four basic assumptions. If IP was so cool, then why did broadcasters move to HDTV and not use IP? If IP was so compelling, why is your cable box not using IP? IP is not affordable and it does not offer the picture quality or price point.”


With the Middle East poised to be the epicenter of growth in the deployment of security and surveillance technologies, Avigilon has appointed industry veteran Hadi Rayess as its sales director for the region.

Rayess joins Avigilon from i3DVR, another Canadian video surveillance provider, where he managed the Middle East and Southearn United States territories for seven years. While at i3DVR, Rayess built the company’s Middle Eastern business from the ground up and developed a distribution network across the region.

Prior to i3DVR, Rayess was the sales manager for digital imaging solutions at Agfa Geavart in the Middle East. Rayess has a degree in Electrical Engineering from the Computer and Engineering College in Beirut, Lebanon. Scott suggested that while IP video has its uses, IP cameras do not produce the same quality image as HD cameras.

“I’ve put 2 million cameras into the market. I’m not interested in developing anything else, but delivering great pictures,” he said. “The efficiency of security is in the details. IP cameras are delivering worse pictures than analog CCTV cameras made seven years ago. HDcctv is cheaper, has a higher frame rate, and there are no compression artifacts. You can go capture images from further distances and it’s cheaper to install than IP cameras.”


But the power and flexibility of IP systems bring plenty of advantages as well to the security arena.

“A network topology allows us to digitize and manage the cameras and the system far more equitably with software,” said DaveTynan, vice president of global sales and marketingwith Avigilon. “Rather than the camera being the only element being HD, what we’ve done is address the engine of HD in order to record without any visible loss in HD quality. It’s the equivalent of being able to provide instant replay on an NFL football game.”

The software frees up resources (namely bandwidth) and allows the viewer to playback live. Most times, forensics is working from archived images and, Tynan said, “being able to bring that video using the network and software-based engine, you have a far better opportunity to recover the forensic information.”

Avigilon uses JPEG2000 lossless compression technology and the JPEG2000 bandwidth optimized transmission ensures minimal bandwidth utilization without any visual loss or clarity. “We’re addressing the engine,” Tynan said. “If you think about a car, the engine is what makes it valuable. We’ve built an engine that has the capability to move millions of pixels of information. A combination of our compression technology and the automation of some of the camera features and functions frees up and maximizes the network resources.






SMPTE “The server provides processing and storage and because of the variable compression technology, what we’re doing is recording and processing at the edge and then at the workstation the end-user only selects a small portion of the file from the edge of the network,” he said. “You are wasting resources if you are moving all the information from the server to the workstation. It overtaxes the network and is not an efficient system. Processing at the edge of the network and only bringing what is necessary to the workstation takes the burden off of the network.”

One study, from IMS Research, predicts that the the global video surveillance market will increase by 3 percent in 2010, significantly lower than historical market growth. But the growth rate for IP surveillance equipment is likely to exceed 15 percent.

“Nascent markets for video surveillance equipment which have embraced IP video surveillance technology will significantly outperform global market growth in 2009 and will continue to thrive in 2010,” said IMS Research Analyst Gary Wong.

In particular, the report cites the Middle East as a prime example of a relatively immature video surveillance market that has experienced strong IP video surveillance adoption.

“Security consultants and integrators operating in the Middle East are generally more IT savvy than their European and U.S. counterparts—another key factor driving IP video surveillance growth in the region,” IMS said.