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Ultra HD cameras take video surveillance to the next level

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Video surveillance is an increasingly important part of any comprehensive security system. However, in large spaces or areas where a high level of detail is required there are a number of challenges, writes Laurence Smith, executive at Graphic Image Technologies.
Typically, numerous cameras are required to fully cover an area with a variety of different angles and locations. This makes monitoring the video feeds challenging, as there are only so many screens a single person can effectively view.
In addition, image quality is often low, which means that high levels of detail cannot be obtained and it becomes practically impossible to pick up fine detail or accurately identify perpetrators. Ultra High Definition (UHD) cameras, also known as 4K cameras, offer the ideal solution, enabling organisations to cover larger spaces with fewer cameras and providing higher levels of detail for enhanced forensic capabilities.
Ultra HD surveillance cameras employ state-of-the-art, broadcast quality HD media processors and operate at 30 frames per second, delivering four times more detail than the most advanced HD1080 cameras. In addition, they offer a far more cost effective option to 10-megapixel cameras, which features similar resolution at a low frame rate, with poor light sensitivity, and require masses of storage for footage.
Utilising a properly designed solution, 4K cameras can be used by organisations to leverage image quality of 250-million pixels per second, while using up to 30% less storage than many HD1080 solutions. Advanced low light image sensors ensure that 4K cameras can easily handle wide variations in motion and lighting, making these cameras ideal for indoor and outdoor applications.
Furthermore, intelligent broadcast motion processing architecture ensures the lowest possible bandwidth consumption, delivering predictable storage requirements and a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
The increased quality and resolution of these cameras lends 4K surveillance to any number of different applications. One of the most significant advantages of this camera technology is its ability to monitor far larger areas than standard definition or HD1080 cameras, due to the dramatically enhanced resolution.
More detail in a single view means that fewer 4K cameras are required to obtain the same amount of coverage. For example, in an application such as a parking lot at a shopping mall, a typical HD installation would require between 30 and 40 cameras. With 4K cameras this number can be reduced to between 10 and 12 cameras, which not only covers the same area but also provides a far higher level of detail.
Fewer video feeds also mean fewer personnel are required for accurate surveillance monitoring, and low bandwidth requirements enable video to be streamed over the Internet for remote monitoring from anywhere in the world. In addition, the higher level of detail offered by 4K makes it finally a realistic possibility to zoom into the captured footage without the image quality degrading, allowing users to pick out granular levels of detail, from facial features to vehicle license plates and more.
4K installations are highly cost effective due to the levels of detail with extended coverage and reductions in the number of cameras required. As the cameras themselves are typically comparable in price to high quality HD cameras, in many applications the implementation of 4K can even save organisations money. Intelligent 4K systems enable organisations to make use of existing back end systems and simply replace cameras on the front end with 4K solutions, offering improved video quality without the need for increased total cost of ownership (TCO). Fewer cameras also require fewer network points and reduced maintenance which brings the cost down even further.
There are many applications that are ideal for 4K video surveillance, from shopping malls to hospitals, airports to sports stadiums, factories and warehouses. However, they can also be used practically anywhere where a CCTV solution is required, as for a similar price organisations can leverage significantly more detail and enhanced image quality. Despite on-going perceptions that 4K cameras are not ideal in low light scenarios, that they use large amounts of bandwidth and that they require significant investment, the reality is that this is not necessarily the case. A properly implemented 4K solution will not have these issues, and will enable organisations to take advantage of all of the benefits without any of the pitfalls.