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The City of Ottawa is replacing its aging army of 400 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras with Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled units that will improve data gathering and security system integration.
The older cameras, installed in 2002, are credited for reducing damage to public property.
"Our vandalism bill dropped from $900,000 to zero when we deployed these cameras," said Bob Gauvreau, manager of corporate security, for the City of Ottawa.
Early last year, however, Gauvreau saw the need to replace the cameras to keep up with emerging technology. "Our CCTV cameras did their job, but we needed to take advantage of new technology to improve our capability."
The older surveillance devices were most effective in securing the city's 14 pools where vandals often threw garbage, harmful chemicals and even dog feces. The cameras were linked to the municipal local area network that fed images to a central command centre. The system reduced the need for manual patrol of city property.
The City of Ottawa encompasses 11 former regional municipalities, covers 2,800 square kilometers and is home to more than 700,000 residents. Gauvreau looks after the security of some 15,000 public employees and thousands of visitors who use the cities 900 facilities and some 700 parks. Replacement of the older units is expected to be completed before summer.
Gauvreau said the new IP cameras will provide better image resolution. He said grainy pictures produced by the CCTV units hampered identification and cost his team precious time. "We were losing time in trying to identify people in grainy images or empty scenes captured by the camera. That was not acceptable."
The IP-based surveillance camera from Sony Electronics Inc. uses the company's new distributed enhanced processing architecture (DEPA).
The feature allows pre-processing of data to take place in the camera. The method reduces network communication and bandwidth requirements but also produces clearer and sharper images, said Carlos Varela, product manager for Sony Canada.
The lower bandwidth requirements and elimination of "environmental noise" such as rustling leaves from the system "leads to faster searches of video material," he added.
With the older system, a separate motion detector sent a signal to the camera to pan, tilt or zoom towards a particular spot where the sensor detected movement.
Motion detectors are integrated into the Sony camera's body reducing the need to purchase another device to add to the system.
Varela said the unit's motion sensors can distinguish between actual target images and false alarms caused by environmental noise. "This ensures that only real events are recorded and data storage is not wasted on useless footage."