In the first of a four part series, LILIN presents a series of articles with valuable content for experienced installers and those new to the security sector.
LILIN has been developing video surveillance products since 1980, and has more recently been developing its integration within the home automation industry.
Having transitioned R&D resources to IP video several years ago, LILIN’s dedication towards new products, innovations and technologies forms its core focus.
LILIN now integrates with most home automation platforms and is dedicated to getting the deepest functionality possible.
Throughout the years LILIN has remained dedicated to its company philosophy of ‘creativity, progress and excellence’ and consequently provides expertise in digital video, bringing world’s first products to the market.
Why focus on the CI market?
Fundamentally this is about integration, having a great surveillance system is only half the solution if your clients can’t utilise and operate it simply and effectively through their chosen control systems.
Who is best placed to ensure that the solution works this way – why the custom installer of course! In order to ensure the equipment can integrate, the manufacturer, (us in this case), has to make sure the products are suitable for the market and are capable of working well with other systems by developing SDKs and APIs and then either writing the relevant drivers for the third-party control systems or working with the partners to get those drivers developed, tested and where applicable certified.
Then we need to ensure we can train and support those dealers so that they can design the system to deliver an effective solution for the end user.
A significant majority of home automation projects will also see video surveillance being installed, but it is not commonly integrated and is often installed by a security company.
There are no legal requirements, certifications or qualifications needed to install surveillance in most commercial, residential or industrial applications.
You can install cameras on a residential property without breaching the Data Protection Act.
However, if cameras are installed on commercial property and CCTV is being used for business purposes, you may need to comply with the Act and display a sign to indicate to the public that they may be recorded.
Find out more about business obligations with CCTV at the ICO website www.ico.org.uk
A well-integrated surveillance system has tremendous value to most end users, depending on the platform and capabilities of the driver the following functions can be delivered
• Live video display of cameras on televisions and smart devices up to 1080p resolution (4K soon!)
• Multi-screen views up to 16 cameras
• Playback control from remotes- including FFD and RWD up to 64x, frame advance etc.
• Remote viewing via smart devices (live and playback)
• Event notification by email using complex rules – snapshots can be attached
• Audio and motion detection to trigger events
• Video “Pop Up” on TV’s upon event triggers (e.g. doorbell push)
• Live audio from cameras to TV’s and audio recording/playback
Analogue VS. IP Systems
Since its commercial availability in the 1970s, CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) systems operated on the inherent Television standard of the country, so in the UK it was PAL in the US NTSC etc.
This placed a limit on the resolution available. The signals in an analogue system are typically transmitted via point to point coaxial cable, RG-59 terminated with BNC connectors usually.
Before the development of the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) in the late 1990s the only method of recording cameras was on industrial VCRs using time lapse recording onto VHS, the quality was poor and often worsened by the need for multiplexing multiple images onto the same device – usually resulting in one picture every 16 seconds.
Today we have much better digital recorders (DVRs) that can record multiple cameras onto multiple hard drives with efficient compression ensuring good frame rates and storage capacity – usually 30 days minimum.
Analogue systems are still deployed widely today and are limited mainly by the PAL system. New developments are delivering HD resolution on analogue (HD-SDI), but these are not widely adopted standards and some issues exist with interoperability and limited length of cable runs.
The modern DVR also connects to the network or Internet and many allow web-based viewing and playback and may be supported by apps for mobile viewing. Any analogue camera from any manufacturer will work with any DVR opening up a huge range of choice.
The driving force behind IP technology in our industry was originally the need to deliver higher resolution images and 1080p has subsequently become the new resolution standard for these systems, but cameras can readily be found from three-megapixel up to 29 megapixel.
IP cameras first came onto the market in 1997 and for many years the only ways to record the images was by using a PC based recording device running software capable of both archiving and decoding the streams.
As more manufacturers brought IP cameras to the market, the lack of standards for the video stream became a significant issue; either the recording software had to support hundreds of different protocols and compression methods, or systems became proprietary and therefore closed.
So in 2008 the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) was established and created a method for manufacturers and developers to deliver interoperable IP products.
LILIN was the first manufacturer to release an ONVIF conformant camera in 2009 and there are now over 3000 conformant products certified.
The first Network Video Recorders that looked and operated like DVR appliances came to market in 2009 and removed the need to use a PC and software.
Many of these devices now support ONVIF, offer 1080p recording at 25fps per channel and can be supplied with 32Tb of HDD based storage.
Using IP realised some other benefits for video surveillance; accessing camera streams from multiple devices simultaneously meant better support for tablets, browsers and mobile phones, edge storage could be incorporated into cameras for redundancy and alarm-based recording onto Micro SD cards.
Additionally audio could also be streamed in both directions and PoE switches could provide the power for a single cable solution. Now IP offers better resolution, easier installation and more flexible system design.
Integrating Surveillance into Control Systems
To deliver good integration we need to do two things well; get the video images to the monitors and allow full control of the entire system functionality.
There are many ways we can deliver the video, usually the most effective is to switch the HDMI output of a DVR or NVR to the chosen monitor, where multiple monitors are required then an HDMI matrix may be used.
We can also pick up the stream from a camera or NVR, or DVR and decode that in a controller – usually tablets and smartphones can do this reasonably well where most home automation control units don’t manage quite so well as they usually don’t handle H.264 easily or just don’t have much processing power, however they may be able to display a decreased resolution at a slower frame rate.
Finally there is the option of using a decoder at each monitor and connecting this to the IP network, we will discuss this in more detail in a later article.
To get the camera images little control is required so the protocol or driver needed is usually quite simple but displaying a camera view has much less usefulness to the end user than control over playback and multi-screen splits.
In order to do this we need to control the DVR/NVR and this requires much more complex drivers. Some devices can be controlled by using the IR commands and an emitter bug, but the most resilient method is to use TCP/IP based commands to control and interrogate the recorders, when done properly this gives the end-users intuitive control.
So when looking at manufacturers of surveillance equipment the following need to be ascertained:
1) Are drivers available for ALL of the surveillance equipment you want to use?
2) Are those drivers available for ALL of the control systems you want to use?
3) Are those drivers freely available, certified and maintained in line with firmware updates?
4) What level of functionality and control is supported?
5) How are the control commands sent?
6) Can the video streams be used on the room controllers, touchpads and mobile devices?
7) Is audio supported? In both directions?
8) Are events, alarms and alerts supported – can they be used to trigger other actions?
There are hundreds of manufacturers, importers, OEMS and re-branders of surveillance products, it is a highly contested market and a confusing arena to enter for the uninitiated!
When done well, an integrated surveillance solution will work seamlessly and deliver beautiful HD images of the property to the owner wherever they are.
Next month we’ll be going into detail on how to select the right camera, with useful tips on fields of view, lighting, resolution, frame rates and Infra Red.
LILIN’s distribution partner for the CI sector is Invision UK.
More information: LILIN +44 (0)870 1205550, www.LILIN.uk