Under surveillance

Security systems are now integral part of a building's services installation. MEP Middle East takes a closer look at closed-circuit television systems and how the sector is developing with the latest technologies.


Closed-circuit television (cctv) cameras are one of the most visible parts of a building's security system. Before electronic access control became a part of everyday life, cctv cameras were the primary means of establishing who entered an area and recording their movements while there. With the demand for security rising on a global basis, cctv systems are growing even more critical and the information that they can provide has greatly improved since the early models were developed.

A cctv system generally involves a varying number of cameras that are networked to a central control room. Here the scenes being viewed by the cameras are displayed and recorded by the building manager or security staff. The market is undergoing considerable change to meet demands and advances in technology have enabled the initial grainy, black and white images to be replaced by high resolution, colour video streaming. The latest cameras also feature a number of options that add to their effectiveness and the efficiency of their operation as well as the security of the data collected.

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) reports a continuing increase in the sector, with further rises expected. "The continued growth of the sector is a testament to the essential role that cctv is playing in modern society," states BSIA cctv section chair Pauline Nortstrom. "There is an increasing awareness of the benefits of using a cctv system, with customers making the most of the flexibility of the technology and using it in many different applications," adds BSIA technical officer Dave Wilkinson.

The world market for network cameras alone will be worth around US $1.3 billion (AED4.77 billion) by 2010 according to industry analyst house IMS Research. The market is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of close to 38% per year over the next five years to reach this figure.

In the Middle East, the enormous number of buildings under construction has added to the growth of the sector in the region, as has the current worldwide political situation. "The market in the GCC and the Middle East is booming because of the security awareness resulting from the political situation in these countries," explains Karim Alayli, regional manager Middle East, Norbain.

Some buildings must include cctv systems by law, while they are being installed in many others to ensure that the buildings meet client demands for security as well as any potential future regulations. "It is mandatory for some sectors to install cctv cameras, such as hotels, shopping malls, banks, gold and jewelry shops or stores that have precious items. This regulation was passed by Dubai Police Services and before the installation of a cctv system, a licence is required," explains Tanja Spoerl, general manager, FESD Dubai. "There are no common rules for the whole Middle East," adds Gilles Ortega, country manager for Axis Communications, MENA. "Privacy rules are still to be defined depending on the countries."

Improvements in technology are credited for much of the increased interest in cctv systems. "The cctv field is growing on a daily basis because of the tremendous advances in technology that is reflected also in the new cctv equipment," states Alayli. "Previously the idea of having the camera was only to view a dummy image, however these days the intelligence and analytics in interpreting the image has changed," he adds.

"The demand is increasing in general," agrees Ortega. The expectations though have also increased: "End-users are requesting more intelligent features and global integration. Thanks to the convergence of IT and security, all security means are now integrated into complete systems that include fire alarms, access control, intrusion and video surveillance," Ortega adds.

The move to IP

One of the biggest developments in the cctv sector over the past few years is the emergence of digital or internet protocol (IP) technology. CCTV cameras were traditionally operated on analogue technology and this remains popular, however IP-based systems are widely expected to become the norm in the future. "There is a great deal of focus on IP products in the marketplace, with products moving from analogue to digital technology," confirms Wilkinson. The technology is still relatively new to the Middle East, but its use is growing.

"Standard analogue cctv cameras are still used and installed, but the trend is changing and the growth [in the uptake] of IP-based cameras is much higher," confirms Ortega. "IP cameras will definitely be the most used type after 2010 according to market analysts," he adds. "In the UAE market it is mostly analogue cameras that are [currently] being installed. CCTV cameras with IP-technology have been in the market for a period of time, however this technology is still in its introductory phase, but there is a slight shift towards the IP-based solution recently," confirms Spoerl. "Over a period of time IP technology will take over from the analogue cameras...there has also been a new development with wireless cameras integrated over gprs," she adds.

"It will take some time before a complete digital solution is in place across the board," states Wilkinson. In the interim period while IP technology develops, hybrid solutions that enable cctv systems to be created with a mix of digital and analogue technology may be utilised in certain applications.

The advantages of IP-based systems include their ease of installation and ability to offer more 'intelligent' options in a security system. "The installation of an IP-based camera is generally much easier, since it can be connected to the existing network infrastructure," states Ortega. "This saves time on the installation of cables and electrical power supplies," adds Wilkinson. "Health and safety is always a concern, in particular when working at height; modern technology results in smaller, lighter equipment being installed, which in itself reduces the risk of falling due to weight unbalance," Wilkinson adds.

The short project programme times in the region make this an important factor of any product. "The main concerns of Norbain during r&d is to come up with a safe product and to ease the life of the installer. The Vista Powerdome2 PTZ camera is one example of a development that has accounted for fast installation and replacement where the backbox memory will skip long hours of reprogramming the camera incase it is replaced," states Alayli.

The latest cameras include technology that enables much greater control over the analysis of the movements within an area. In addition to higher resolution images, cameras can be activated directly by movement sensors or used to identify and follow a particular person within a crowded area. "The use of intelligent features like motion detection or people tracking is adding safety to sites," confirms Ortega.

The IP-based products can also be used in overall building management systems: "Manufacturers are developing IP-based products in order to integrate all of [a building's] systems in one. The use of software and specific algorithms in these systems allow the end-users to benefit from analytic contents, people counting, number plate recognition and object or people tracking are among the most demanded features," reports Ortega. "In future, cctv cameras are likely to be integrated with time attendance and access control to provide a total security solution," predicts Spoerl.

Product developments

The type of camera that should be used for a project depends on several factors including the application and customer needs. "An end-user must know if they need indoor or outdoor cameras, fixed or PTZ (mobile), including day/night vision or infrared sensitivity, with embedded motion detection or not," explains Ortega. "The shape of the camera itself also varies depending on the installation site, for example a dome shape camera will be preferred in the retail market, while standard fixed cameras will be used for city surveillance applications," he adds.

Manufacturers within the sector are continually introducing products to meet the latest security needs. Axis launches around three cameras quarterly, it's latest products are the Axis 211W; the Axis 216MFD; the Axis 233D IP PTZ dome; and the Axis 209FD-R, which is specially designed for mobile environments like trains.

The Axis 211W is an outdoor camera that is designed for professional video surveillance; it can be operated as a wireless unit or wired to the network. The camera supports IPv6 and IPv4 and produces 30 frames per second in VGA resolution (640x480 pixels). The Axis 216MFD indoor megapixel dome is designed for locations such as shops, schools, banks and government buildings. It features a 1.3 megapixel sensor that enables detailed monitoring of an area; the high resolution can also be used to overview large areas.

Axis 233D is designed for challenging applications such as airports, stadiums and ports, where the need to follow moving objects from a large distance while identifying small details is vital. The camera includes integrated two-way audio and supports both IPv6 and IPv4.

Norbain also offers a wide range of cctv cameras for different applications. "The PTZ day/night cameras and day/night fixed cameras are the most popular today because of the possibility to provide good resolution images during the different light conditions," states Alayli. "Because of the technology, full functional IP PTZ cameras will be the most used in the future," he adds. The latest products to be launched by the firm include the Vista Blade real-time DVR and Vista PowerDome2, which enables day and night recording.

The Legend PTZ dome from GE Security features SilkTrak technology. As such, a direct drive replaces belts and gears to move the camera. This enables sharp video footage to be recorded even during camera movement. For ease of installation, the camera is locked into tabs on the housing by pushing it into position and rotating the assembly clockwise. A privacy masking feature enables portions of the camera's field of view to be masked, maintaining security while respecting privacy where needed.

Taiwan-based X-Core Technology also offers a series of cctv products to the Middle East market including the weatherproof IR DSP camera, which features an optional cs mount lens and offers a night vision range of 50m. The firm's security IP-based camera offers dual recording modes and can be powered by dc voltage or using power over Ethernet (PoE). The latter feature is another that is likely to develop further in the future. "We [predict] the demand for wireless cameras growing and, last but no least, power over Ethernet (PoE) cameras will allow the installer to avoid standard power source wiring," concludes Ortega.

Internet protocol installer guide

In response to the uptake of internet protocol (IP) technology for security systems the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has published an installers guide to such systems.

An installer's guide to internet protocol (IP) in the security industry provides information on the key elements of IP technology. Comprehensive information is given on different network types and the assigning of IP addresses to devices in order to pass information between network-attached devices. The guide also covers the types of transmission devices that are available in the market, plus the types of hardware that can be used to form a network as well as design and installation considerations.

The BSIA guide can be downloaded from www.bsia.co.uk/web_images/publications/Form_210.pdf.

For further information on the Dubai Police Headquarters regulations see www.dps.ae/Requirments.aspx.

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