Magazine article Security Management

Beswitched

Magazine article Security Management

Beswitched

Article excerpt

TO SAY CHANGES ARE OCCURring in the closed-circuit television (CCTV) industry as fast as a signal travels from a camera to a switcher may not be an exaggeration. The market for high-quality, high-tech CCTV surveillance equipment becomes more demanding each day. Products are barely off the shelves before users want something better, faster, more sophisticated.

Software is making hardware more powerful and flexible. Systems are being streamlined and customized for every installation. The future is not in bigger, bulkier systems but in more compact, more intelligent equipment that can make the security officer's job as easy as touching a single button.

The most basic CCTV surveillance system pairs one camera with one monitor for continuous viewing. This setup is sufficient for small applications but can become cumbersome and expensive in larger facilities. As more cameras are needed to view more scenes, video switchers have become a vital part of efficient surveillance operations.

Basic four-position switchers provide manual and automatic sequential switching of up to four camera inputs that may be displayed on one monitor. They provide variable dwell time from two to 60 seconds. Automatic camera call-up can be activated by motion detectors or remote alarm closure devices. Alarms will override front panel controls to home in on an alerted camera.

This simple switcher system is certainly effective, but it has its limitations. For instance, an application may require more cameras to view more scenes, the user may wish to position monitors in separate locations, or an operator may wish to vary the sequences of video displays.

Every application is unique, and the industry has been moving toward meeting the specific requirements of individual users. The introduction of microprocessor-based switcher technology has erased the limitations and expanded switcher capabilities to fill virtually any requirement.

Microprocessor-based switcher technology has allowed the integration of greater numbers of cameras and monitors. Switchers are much smarter and more sophisticated, offering options and customized programs that were never thought possible.

Microprocessor-based switcher systems combine advanced electronic switching capabilities with computer technology to provide unlimited flexibility. Some systems can accommodate as many as 368 camera inputs and 32 monitor outputs.

Such s stems have the ability to interact with a standard DOS-based IBM-compatible PC. These systems can be programmed to display the video from any camera on any monitor, either manually or via independent automatic switching sequences. Up to 60 such sequences can be programmed and stored in the system memory for recall later. Programmed sequences can be run independently of each other and in either a forward or reverse direction.

At the touch of a key, the operator of a closed-circuit security surveillance system using an individualized program can automatically scan the input of any number of cameras in the system on any of the monitors. Dwell time for each scene is variable and can be set for each camera in the sequence.

For example, an operator can program a viewing time of six seconds for camera one, 15 seconds for camera two, 30 seconds for camera three, eight seconds for camera four, and so on. Dwell time and sequence are determined by the needs of the individual operator. …

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