25 May 2012
Hybrid DVR: the bridge between old and new
The capture of the murderer who pushed 20-year old student Joshua Basin under a New York City subway train a few weeks ago, is likely to be the direct result of the attacker’s image being caught on CCTV.
This serves yet again to underpin the value of CCTV (closed circuit television video), says Valerie Bingham, product manager for Elvey Security Technologies, which stocks some of the world’s top security brands.
In addition to capturing myriad incidents of road rage, robbery, assault, muggings, shoplifting and employee theft daily around the globe, “Big Brother” has also filmed exceptional incidents such as alleged “honeymoon” murderer Shrien Dewani handing a bag to Zola Tonga, thought to contain the hitman’s payment.
“CCTV, despite having been in commercial use since the early 70’s, remains one of the world’s most sought-after security products owing to its ability to become the eyes and ears of business owners in their absence,” says Ms Bingham. “As a reliable means of watching over stock, people and premises, it’s long been the security choice of the small business arena.”
While the concept remains the same as it has since its inception, she says CCTV technology has advanced dramatically over the years. “Therein lies the challenge: to upgrade existing systems in line with expanding businesses while at the same time being sensitive to financial constraints brought about by today’s subdued economic climate.”
She adds: “Company growth is critical, not only with regard to increasing profits but also creating more employment opportunities, something that is desperately needed in South Africa. Along with plans to boost production and increase the size of the operation, a good operator will give serious consideration to the expansion of his security system. This can be of great concern to someone who has little knowledge of modern CCTV technology and how it can interface economically and reliably with his existing setup.”
Among the concerns regularly raised by those embarking on expansion programmes, she says, is that of how to bridge the gap between the old and the new, while keeping the costs down. “People want updated, more reliable solutions but at the same time they’re keenly aware of the financial and environmental need to reduce waste during their transition from analogue to IP or network CCTV systems.”
The answer to the requirement for more functionality and recording space lies in a hybrid system, asserts Ms Bingham. This essentially means replacing their old analogue DVD (digital video recorder) with a hybrid DVR, which is designed to operate with both analogue and digital cameras.
According to Ms Bingham, digital cameras offer vastly improved picture quality when compared with their analogue counterparts. “Megapixel quality is constantly being improved, the result of which is ever-deeper image quality and detail, which is essential for reliable facial recognition and other analytical software.”
Impressive at first glance, the banks of monitors found in a typical control room are in reality very vulnerable to the limited attention spans of their human operators, she continues. “Research has shown that the efficiency level of the average CCTV operator drops dramatically after about 20 minutes, to the point where they are only taking in about five percent of the information on screen.”
The answer to this weak spot in a company’s security chain lies in video analytics, intelligent software that can quickly and accurately analyse footage for specific data such as behaviour patterns and perimeter violations, maintains Ms Bingham. In addition, it allows for digitized audiovisual streams to be sent to and viewed from anywhere in the world; it has people counting and license plate recognition capabilities, it adjusts automatically to lighting and discriminatory conditions and it reduces data storage requirements and costs. Small wonder that government as well as retail, business, industry and manufacturing sectors the world over are increasingly keen on this technology.
Simple and cost-effective to add to pre-existing networks, IP (internet protocol) cameras are the answer to the need to transmit video in digital form to and from the internet and other email clients, she notes further. Requiring just a PoE (Power over Ethernet) cable for power, video and sound, there is no need to have a power supply close to the camera source as is the case for analogue cameras.
Armed with all of the above attributes and features, the Dahua DH-DVR1604-T-4H is at the top of Ms Bingham’s recommended list. It boasts 16 channel analogue video inputs with full D1 recording as well as 4 channel IP video inputs with 1080P @ H.264 or 720P @ MPEG4. All 16 analogue channels can record at the maximum D1 resolution, or they can be scaled down to CIF, 2CIF or QCIF.
With H.264 compression on video recordings and G.711 compression on audio recordings, this hybrid provides top video and audio quality, she adds. It comes standard with a 1TB SATA hard drive, which can be enhanced with the addition of up to eight hard drives (or six hard drives and a CD/DVD-RW writer) should business owners want to record for longer periods before the DVR starts re-writing over older recordings.
Viewing of live or recorded footage is a breeze owing to the DVR’s spot monitor output which has composite BNC, VGA and HDMI output for the main display monitor, and can playback 1, 4, 8, 9, 16 and 20 channels. Users are spoilt for choice when it comes to playback functions, which include play, pause, stop, rewind, fast and slow play, next file, next camera, previous camera, full screen, repeat, shuffle, back-up and digital zoom.
Back-ups can be done using any USB backup device, including memory sticks, external DVD writers, external hard drives or external CD writers. Additional backups can be made to an eSATA device, built-in SATA burner or they can be downloaded via the network.
Data retrieval is also simplicity itself since searches can be done by time (to the second), date, alarm or motion.
And that’s not all, she says. “The Dahua DH-DVR1604-T-4H can be linked up to speed domes for 3D intelligent positioning. Also, as a result of its powerful network software and built-in Web server, the standalone hybrid offers multi-DVR client, MSS (mobile surveillance software for smart phone) and CMS. Its Pentaplex functionality allows for simultaneous live recording, playback and backup transmission as well as remote access. It’s also packed with intelligent functions such as motion, camera blank and video loss detection. Privacy masking may be applied to each camera with 4 self-defined, four-sided zones to block out unwanted areas.
Thanks to its built-in web browser, users can view live images over the internet, monitor cameras remotely, control the PTZ (pan, tilt and zoom) camera, playback events, change system settings, view log information and download files. They can also receive event notifications via email, depending on the parameters set, which can include alarm, video loss and log information.
Prepared and submitted by Priyesh Jagjivan
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