Freeze frame (Part 6)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 6 of 6

By Spike Anderson

Wide dynamic range (WDR) cameras can be ideal for store entrances to avoid bright outdoor light and dimmer light inside the store, which creates backlit silhouettes in the video feed. Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Video security systems have become much easier to use in recent years, but selecting the right cameras and installing them properly takes some expertise. Since jewellers must safeguard small items that are extremely valuable, it may be wise to consult with an you get the best system for the space. Here are a few more points if you’re considering installing a camera system.

Frame your shot

Isolate high-importance areas of your space, such as open display cases of valuable merchandise, and commit a camera to identify any persons in that area. Too often, only cameras producing wide-angle shots over a large area are deployed. These are useful to generate an overall picture of the store and of customer movements, but they are of little use to identify specific people.

Install enough cameras or the right ones

One of the most common mistakes is using too few cameras to cover an area. When the goal is to get an identification shot of every person entering the store, dedicate a camera to the entrance that will deliver a head-and-shoulders shot. And again, if the door faces outside, consider a WDR camera that can compensate for the backlit conditions. Technologies like 360-degree view IP cameras, covert digital cameras, and HDTV/megapixel cameras can actually cover more space when installed properly.

Be wise about megapixels

Bigger isn’t always better when selecting camera resolution. Most situations simply do not require massive resolution. Installing HDTV-standard cameras—which follow the same international broadcast TV standards governing the entertainment industry for colour reproduction, resolution, widescreen aspect ratio, and frame rate—is a wise choice. An HDTV 720p camera is roughly equal to 1 megapixel (MP), while 1080p produces 2 MP. The distance between the camera and the object you’re trying to see determines how many pixels are required for a usable image. The smaller that distance, the less resolution you’ll need to create a great picture. A general rule for identification is 80 pixels ear-to-ear on a person. So avoid the lure of six or 10 megapixel cameras—buying them is simply overkill for almost all retail situations. In fact, if certain factors line up, sometimes even VGA resolution (640×480) delivers enough pixels on target for your application. So if you want high-definition video, look for the HDTV designation, but consider working with a security integrator to determine the resolution that works best for your specific installation.

Plan for the future

Networked IP camera systems are especially valuable because they can easily grow and adapt to changing business conditions. An IP camera can be added to a store more easily and quickly than was true in the old analog days. And since IP is a standard and common format running on a software backbone, upgrades and future analytic installations require a mere system update, not a rip and replace. Since these cameras are really computers that can ‘see,’ the functionality they offer is expandable and customizable as new software comes on the market.

Jewellery retailers face unique challenges. Among the most significant is the fact the items they sell are small and highly valuable, making it even more critical to have a high-quality and comprehensive security camera solution in place. Coupled with video monitoring and analytics software, modern IP cameras installed in sufficient numbers and positioned for optimal coverage can help law enforcement officials make an arrest after a robbery. They can also proactively alert store owners to avoid theft in the first place.

Read the full article: Freeze frame

Posted in Jewellery Safety & Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Freeze frame (Part 5)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 5 of 6

By Spike Anderson

Jewellery stores employ bright lights to highlight merchandise, but reflections from glass cases can cause some kinds of cameras to underexpose a frame, creating video that is too dark to be usable. To address this, retailers can install wide dynamic range (WDR) cameras. Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Smaller jewellery stores typically deploy fewer than six analog cameras connected to a DVR. In most cases, the retailer selects these systems because the price is attractive, even though they often deliver low-quality video and, with so few cameras, insufficient coverage of the space. DVRs can also be prone to maintenance issues and failure. Not only is it an expense to maintain, it can mean your system is out of commission while the DVR is replaced.

While IP cameras may seem more expensive compared to their analog counterparts, they have become very cost-effective in recent years. Not many years ago, an IP system would have only been more cost-effective when 32 cameras or greater were required. Today, HDTV-quality IP cameras, new storage options, and off-the-shelf hardware components used for network video have all decreased drastically in price. This makes the use of IP in small systems (up to 16 cameras) a reality, while delivering the benefits of better image quality, increased functionality, intuitive management, and better scalability.

When price is a significant factor, cameras with on-board memory are an effective solution. Built-in SD memory card slots turn each camera into individual recorders. Depending on image quality and frame rates selected, a 16 GB SD card can deliver high-definition storage at a cost of about $30 per camera.

Cameras act as a deterrent to thieves, and can be used to help law enforcement make an arrest when a theft occurs. Equipment costs for an average retail location are manageable, and the hardware outlay can be largely offset by preventing even one significant jewellery theft.

More to come of this story in Part 6.

Read the full article: Freeze frame

Posted in Jewellery Safety & Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Freeze frame (Part 4)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 4 of 6

By Spike Anderson

An IP camera is essentially a computer that can ‘see,’ so its video can offer applications, such as intelligent video, easy remote monitoring, and use of mobile devices. Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Utilizing a digital video feed can also provide jewellery retailers access to intelligent video through analytics, which turn video into a proactive tool to mitigate risks in real time, as opposed to reactive uses, such as witnessing a crime after it has occurred. Software inside the camera and VMS platform allows camera systems to think. Instead of simply recording security video, the system can, for instance, measure how many people enter and exit the store on any given day, allowing better management of staffing requirements. In addition, wait times at the checkout counter can be assessed. Retailers can also look at loitering hot spots and understand where customers and employees congregate. Loitering is often considered a pre-cursor to crime. More innocently, though, it could indicate a customer who has a question about your product. In any case, video analytics can help alert staff or security personnel to a situation requiring their attention.

More to come of this story in Part 5.

Read the full article: Freeze frame

Posted in Jewellery Safety & Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Freeze frame (Part 3)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 3 of 6

By Spike Anderson

For surveillance in a retail environment, consider an all-IP system with highdefinition, intelligent network cameras connected to modern analytic software, and video management software (VMS). Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Jewellery stores employ bright lights to highlight merchandise, however, reflections from glass cases can cause lower-end cameras to underexpose the scene, creating video that is too dark to be usable. To address this, retailers can install wide dynamic range (WDR) cameras. These capture two or more full-frame snapshots of the scene at different exposures—some overexposed, some underexposed, and some in the middle. The processing power in the IP camera combines multiple exposures in real time to deliver properly exposed images.

WDR cameras are also ideal for store entrances. In a scenario similar to the glare from glass cases, bright outdoor light and dimmer light inside the store results in backlit silhouettes in the video feed. These are of little use for identification. WDR cameras can handle this dynamic range and deliver usable video images. Conversely, other areas, such as back rooms and hallways, are often dimly lit. Installing special low-light IP cameras in these areas can produce high-quality colour images in near darkness.

More to come of this story in Part 4.

Read the full article: Freeze frame

Posted in Jewellery Safety & Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Freeze frame (Part 2)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 2 of 6

By Spike Anderson

Video encoders digitize analog signals, adding intelligence to an existing analog recording system and improving image quality. Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Ideally, surveillance in a retail environment should comprise an all-IP system with high-definition, intelligent network cameras connected to modern analytic software, and video management software (VMS). However, if you are using analog cameras, the good news is this older technology can be extended into the digital world without replacing existing cameras. Moving from analog to IP can be done in small manageable steps.

If you have working analog cameras at your store, a video encoder can allow them to be compatible with digital systems. Video encoders digitize analog signals, connecting them to a VMS software engine running on a new server. This adds intelligence to an otherwise ‘dumb’ recording system, as well as improves image quality.

If your plan is to purchase new IP cameras but cannot afford to remove and replace existing cabling, Ethernet over- coax converters can be installed to reuse coax cable and send the IP signal from the digital camera to the new software platform.

This means retailers can retain their analog investments while benefitting from advanced analytics, better access to the video feed, and easier management of recordings until the analog system eventually dies out. When the old cameras no longer work, you only need to replace them, not the entire system.

More to come of this story in Part 3.

Read the full article: Freeze frame

Posted in Jewellery Safety & Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Freeze frame (Part 1)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 1 of 6

By Spike Anderson

Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Jewellery stores face unique security challenges, largely because merchandise is both small and very valuable. Effective video security solutions are available, but it is not uncommon to find a store in which the cameras do not provide sufficient coverage and image quality to combat theft. Retailers looking to install a new system or improve an existing one must first choose between analog and Internet protocol (IP) video. The differences between the two technologies are similar to any analog versus digital comparison. Analog systems use a signal from an analog camera transmitted over a coaxial cable (like those used for television cable signals), while IP video is a digital signal transmitted as data over a computer network cable or even wirelessly.

The most critical difference between analog closed circuit TV (CCTV) and IP video is image quality; since jewellery can be extremely small, this is of paramount concern to your business. Analog systems max out at the tube-TV quality of the past, while IP video provides the same HDTV-quality video we now watch on our flat screens at home. Additionally, since an IP camera is essentially a computer that can see, IP video offers many more applications, such as intelligent video, easy remote monitoring, use of mobile devices, and even integrated connections with other technology like alarm panels, store lighting, and motion sensors.

Also, IP is more scalable (i.e. expandable) than analog. As many jewellery retailers have discovered too late, the number of ports on an analog digital video recorder (DVR) determines the maximum number of cameras that can be employed. This is commonly referred to as the ‘17th-camera scenario.’ Often, a DVR has 16 ports for analog camera connections. If you need to add a 17th camera to cover a different part of your store, you must purchase both the camera and a new DVR. In comparison, network video can scale from one camera to thousands, and connecting a new IP camera to the system is not difficult.

More to come of this story in Part 2.

Read the full article: Freeze frame

Posted in Jewellery Safety & Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

BACK TO TOP