Law enforcement officials are fighting street crime and vandalism in a New England city using more than a dozen VB-C60 _IP security PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) cameras from Canon, a leader in digital imaging solutions. The cameras are part of an innovative 4.9 GHz public-safety surveillance system that was designed and installed by LCN, a division of E.G. Sawyer Co., Inc., a leading network integration company. Developed during the past six years, the system’s strategically located Canon VB-C60 IP security cameras provide high-quality video that is helping to make a difference in crime detection and prevention.
“Before we installed the Canon VB-C60 IP video cameras, we were using video conferencing systems to reach out to children that don’t live close enough to visit the aquarium and see the animals for themselves,” DiGiovanni elaborated. “Now anybody in the country can see them. Hopefully this will enable us to spread our educational programs and do more remote-access education that can help raise awareness of the importance of protecting our marine environments.”
“The Canon VB-C60 cameras are positioned on intersections, streets, parking areas, and other places where illegal activity occurs,” explained Mike Lieb, president and founder of LCN, which is based in Weymouth, Mass. “We were originally using a different brand of camera, but then Dick Spellman of Systems Synergies, which re-designed our video management system, told us about the Canon VB-C60 camera and its far superior optics and better compatibility with third-party management products. The two engineers supporting the surveillance system tested a VB-C60 demo model and reported that its mechanism is more reliable than what we had been using, its housing is much easier to deal with inside an environmental dome, and its optics and 40x zoom are much better as well. The fact that it can pan, tilt, and zoom to see a license plate that’s so far away is pretty impressive. These technical advantages and Canon’s aggressive pricing made us start installing VB-C60 cameras about two years ago, and we have been very pleased with them.”
In addition to its 40x optical-zoom capability, the Genuine Canon lens in the VB-C60 IP security PTZ camera also provides a horizontal field of view up to 56 degrees. This, combined with its wide panning range (± 170 degrees) makes the VB-C60 well suited to revealing important visual details, according to Lieb. “In the camera’s ready state, when it’s not zooming, it’s looking at a larger field-of-view, and that’s an advantage,” he noted.
Equipped with a high-sensitivity progressive-scan CCD, advanced Auto Focus system and Image Stabilization, the Canon VB-C60 IP security PTZ camera is designed to capture clear pictures even of moving objects. The camera also features a Panorama Image Creation feature that can stitch together the entire viewing range into one image. This allows users to quickly aim the camera at any specific portion within its viewing range. Additionally, a Pre-set Tour function allows for up to 20 camera positions to be programmed and viewed at specified intervals.
Another key feature of the Canon VB-C60 IP security PTZ camera is Motion Detection, which can be triggered based on pre-set user parameters, and Subject Auto-Tracking, which automatically pans and tilts to follow a subject’s movement.
“The Auto-Tracking feature comes in very handy at night on school grounds, parking areas, and particular streets where there is a high propensity of crime,” Lieb said. “When there’s movement within the field of view we can also increase the frame rate for more detail.”
The VB-C60 IP security PTZ camera uses the proprietary Canon DIGIC NET Processor, a powerful hardware-based engine that performs image processing and encoding. This enables the camera to handle simultaneous encoding of Motion-JPEG and MPEG-4 video in high-quality VGA (640 x 480) at up to 30 frames per second. The high image quality of Motion-JPEG is suited for live monitoring; the compression scheme of MPEG-4 is ideal for recording due to its smaller file size and lighter network load.
The VB-C60 IP security PTZ camera’s ability to distribute Motion-JPEG images in three sizes simultaneously – 640 x 480, 320 x 240, or 160 x 120 – allows for access by a smart phone. The 320 x 240 size is useful when monitoring multiple cameras on a single screen; the 640 x 480 resolution provides for optimum image quality. The camera also has a recording stream function that can greatly minimize the possibility of lost frames due to brief network interruptions.
The Canon VB-C60 IP security PTZ camera can instantly take a picture and email it to a designated account or cell phone/PDA, or upload multiple images to an http or ftp server. Included with the camera is IPv6 and IPsec Support (IP security), a set of protocols for securing IP communications by encrypting data streams while also securing the data flow to and from the camera, ensuring only authorized users have access. “We recently deployed our camera-management system’s remote-access capability,” Lieb added. “Now officers and first responders can remotely log-in to the system with a secure URL, pull up the cameras, and view them on any smart phone. So, for instance, a camera can be monitored from a squad car parked nearby. We can leverage this canopy of wireless IP cameras by doing a quick deploy as crime moves.”
Crucial to its use in public safety surveillance, the Canon VB-C60 IP security PTZ camera also provides important low-light imaging features for the capture of vital visual details amid varying lighting conditions. These features include Smart Shade Control, which automatically adjusts the contrast between bright and dark areas of an image for optimum detail display, and an Auto Day/Night Capability that automatically switches to night mode depending upon lighting conditions.
“The low-light capabilities of the VB-C60 are definitely important,” Lieb explained. “This is because many camera locations have only minimal ambient light at night. If you’re watching video from a camera mounted five stories up hanging on a pendant looking down a street late at night, illuminated only by some distant street lights that are some distance away from what you’re trying to capture, low-light capabilities definitely do make a big difference.”
For convenience and ease of installation, the VB-C60 IP security PTZ camera supports the IEEE 802.3af standard for Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology, which allows both power and data to be carried over a single LAN cable when connected to a PoE hub/switch/midspan. Since a power cable is not required, the camera can be installed at sites without accessible AC outlets.
“We are using PoE to energize the cameras and pull the imagery back,” Lieb said. “In most cases those images are being transmitted over the 4.9 GHz wireless network.”
“There are other products out there, but when we did our ‘tire-kicking’ on the Canon VB-C60 camera we found it was a far superior product,” Lieb added. “My guys have been putting up cameras for years and I trust them. When they told me ‘This thing is solid,’ they were right.”