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  • Evolution 360: Total Situational Awareness

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Technology that captures a 360-degree image is unique. Technology that enables a user to retrospectively track an incident back in time is even more unique. This combination provides customers with total situational awareness.

Product Overview: 360º Camera
In applications that only have traditional cameras, several narrow field of view (NFOV) cameras and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras need to be sprinkled throughout the scene, which requires much higher infrastructure and installation costs because of the number of cameras required. Furthermore, standard PTZ cameras are positioned only to cover key areas (such as doors, passages, sitting areas, counters, etc.) and will only record where the PTZ is pointing — always leaving a number of blind spots and an inconclusive evidence trial.

Even though a PTZ can be programmed to respond to an event trigger, it will arrive at and show video after the event has taken place. Wouldn’t it be nice to see what happened before the alarm?

One solution is to combine the Evolution™ 360-degree camera with your NFOV camera and PTZ cameras. When the Evolution 360-degree camera is mounted onto walls it creates a floor-to-ceiling bubble effect around the area of interest. Any event or activity, taking place within this bubble, is visible to the camera, which provides total situational awareness. This “blanket of eyes” may be replicated by using a number of NFOV cameras and stitching the video together, but the use of multiple cameras adds both cost and complexity that a single multi-megapixel 360-degree camera solves.

Retrospective Immersive Experience and Client Side Dewarping
The most efficacious benefit from a fisheye camera comes when the end user sees a dewarped client viewer that creates a flat, two-dimensional image, or images, from the original fisheye. If this is done on the network video recorder (NVR), it provides an immersive experience similar to a digital or ‘virtual’ PTZ with one very important exception — users are able to go back in time and retrospectively review a scene after an event has happened. This immersive ability gives users a forensic tool to look for evidence because the fisheye view is recording the entire scene constantly, and it can be played back thanks to dewarping software, with clarity, much like a virtual PTZ experience. Contrast this with a NFOV camera or with a motorized PTZ that only records the spot where the camera is pointing.

Limitless Possibilities
There really are no limits on how the Evolution 360, coupled with the best dewarping technology and integrated into the VMS, can add value. With retrospective dewarping and analysis, customers have the best forensic tool available on the market today. That being said, the following customer examples illustrate where customers are installing 360-degree technology to provide added value to their business or operation.

This first example demonstrates where a retail group, with more than 10,000 retail franchises, is successfully utilizing Evolution 360-degree cameras to provide additional marketing and business intelligence. Customers are using the technology for two main reasons: First, for situational awareness because 360-degree technology provides the end user with coverage that has no blind spots and retrospectively analyzes a scene with speed and accuracy that no number of traditional cameras could accomplish.

Secondly, Evolution 360 cameras provide customers with marketing intelligence. They are no longer limited to counting people as they come through the front door. Instead, with a broader 360-degree view, they can analyze pathways, count people standing in line, and calculate shopping time. This is all valuable data to anyone efficiently running a business and trying to maximize ROI. The ability to put this intelligence into a report that makes sense and is easy to work with is a major advantage of analytics, and the ability to place “eyes” over an entire store has led global interest to grow exponentially over the last 12 months.

Imagine a store owner or manager sitting at home with his tablet PC in the evening and being able to access not only the live images from the store, but view any part of the store at any time in the day by having access to 360-degree images that he can see as though he was there. It is tomorrow’s technology today.

There are many national and state regulations in the gaming industry, and to become a critical part of the security solution in a casino requires a thorough understanding of these laws. The Evolution 360 can be installed across the gaming floor, integrated right into the video management system (VMS) and can be used for forensic purposes. It is, as Ted Whiting, surveillance director at MGM Resorts International, said, “the best forensic tool ever,” and has become an integral part of the MGM Aria’s surveillance operations.

As Whiting explains, the cameras replace traditional surveillance methods used by some casinos, in which hundreds of pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras are deployed, all recording to 16-channel multiplexers in an attempt to maximize coverage of the casino floor.

The 360-degree cameras record at four frames per second. “That actually works out well. We couple this technology with what I call choke-point cameras [for entrances, exits, and other areas],” Whiting said.

“For us, 360-degree cameras exist for one reason — it’s a chase camera — but chasing someone in the past. The PTZ is a live chase camera. Someone is walking through the casino; you follow them with the PTZ,” he said. “But let’s say they stole somebody’s iPad yesterday. The 360-degree camera allows me to chase them through the casino back in time. At some point when we’re chasing them, they walk through a choke-point camera, and then we get a perfect ID shot of them.” Not only that, the recorded video from the 360-degree camera allows Whiting and his team to track a criminal back in time, enabling identification. The two cameras work in tandem to achieve the common goal — identification.

Whiting said that he believes there are many security professionals who expected that 360-degree cameras would supplant PTZs. But that’s not how he sees it evolving. “I would never use a 360-degree camera for live view,” he said. “It’s a forensic, investigative tool. And that’s the hardest thing for people to understand.”

City Centers
Ever wonder why some intersections have four, six, or even eight cameras? It’s because traditionally they’ve needed them to see every angle or perspective. But 360-degree technology can revolutionize the way cityscapes are surveyed by providing situational awareness like never before. With dewarping software integrated into the VMS, users can create as many views, and have as many controllers—live or retrospective — as they need. In other words, they are not limited to the four, six, or eight traditional cameras, or to the four virtual cameras you get from on-board dewarping.

Ideal Camera Placement
To get the best possible situational awareness, mount the Evolution 360 in an area that is open and away from obstructions. Outdoors, 360-degree cameras work well when mounted on the corners of buildings using a parapet mount. When placed on an external corner of a building, the camera can see around corners. When mounted on a light post in a parking lot, the field of view could be upwards of 300 feet in any direction. When mounted indoors, the ability for a 360-degree camera to show all four directions of a cross hallway, or three directions of a “T” hallway, are superb applications.

One alternative purpose for a 360-degree camera is the ability to provide a panoramic view in a wall-mounted orientation. With a panoramic view, two 180-degree views are displayed side by side to show both directions of a street or hallway with just one camera.

Ceiling-mounted fisheye cameras are strategically positioned in the center of a scene to maximize the video coverage of large areas. Since the camera sees a complete 360-degree picture, 100 percent visual coverage with no blind spots is obtained and can provide a conclusive evidence trail.

Pelco™ by Schneider Electric™ is proud to partner with Oncam Grandeye, one of the pioneers in 360-degree technologies, and they continue to be the leader in 360-degree dewarping technology. From regional hubs in the United Kingdom, United States, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, Oncam provides security and technology solutions to customers in many countries around the world and is recognized as the global industry leader in total situational awareness. 

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