Armored Car Robbery Video Examined

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 25, 2012

Continuing our analysis of real-world surveillance video, in this update, we look at video released [link no longer available] after a the attempted robbery of an armored truck driver as he serviced an ATM. Very little footage of the robber was shown (presumably because it wasn't captured), and even less was usable. We explain why and how to prevent this in your deployments.

The Video

Here's the video:

The main issue with this surveillance footage is camera positioning, some of which may be remedied.

Camera Positioning Issues

First and foremost is the positioning and aiming of the first camera in the video. This camera is aimed with a severe downtilt, capturing everything but the suspect's face as he passes. We're even curious what the intended purpose of this camera is. It's too low and tightly zoomed to capture general activity of the parking spaces. It's likely too sharp of an angle to capture identification of people walking buy on the brick path seen in the video, seen here. This camera's downtilt is probably between 50-60 degrees, while a maximum of 30 degrees is generally recommended.

Whether this angle is intentional or not is another question. The camera may have been aimed higher and drifted over time. Regular maintenance could have prevented this issue if that were the case.

In the case of the second camera shown in the video, while increased resolution could have provided a better chance of capturing identifying details, it's doubtful that any resolution would have had a 100% chance of capture from this position. 

Based on this image, we estimate that this camera is providing about 48 pixels per foot. The video shows about 28 pixels across the subject's head, with the average human head being 6-8" wide (28 pixels/7" = 4 pixels per inch = 48 PPF). This resolution is on the low side for identification, though as we found in our PPF testing, at ~50 PPF, identification of a known subject is possible, making it possible that a member of the public who knew the suspect could identify him from this video.

This video is a perfect example of the camera location dilemma. Mounting cameras closer to eye level would absolutely provide better details in cases such as this, as the camera's view is less likely to be blocked by the subject's hat or hoodie. However, this places the camera within reach of vandals, and greatly reduces its ability to provide an overview of a scene, as nearer objects obscure farther ones, an issue made worse in busy public spaces.

Understanding Camera Purpose

Identification of this subject aside, we have trouble seeing the value of the first camera in this video even for everyday use by this business. However, we do not believe that camera #2 is necessarily a poor choice. It's likely that this camera was installed for the purpose it serves based on its FOV: not identification, but general monitoring of the outdoor seating area, which it accomplishes. Chances are this camera is used in conjunction with interior cameras with smaller FOVs at this business, to provide a better overall situational awareness of subjects' routes into and out of the building. While it's easy to say the camera is not sufficient, it should be understood that the level of identification sought in this case was likely not what it was designed for.

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Phone Camera Calculator Released on Mar 10, 2020
IPVM has released the first-ever Phone Calculator, video surveillance design software that you can use on your phone, without installing an...
Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the basics of cameras and features used in 2020. In this report, we...
Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London police, but this time the system was thwarted by technical problems and...
IPVM Opens 12,000 Sqft Testing Facility on Dec 16, 2019
IPVM is proud to announce the opening of the world's first video surveillance testing facility that will allow us to significantly expand our...
Camera Field of View (FoV) Guide on Nov 13, 2019
Field of View (FoV) and Angle of View (AoV), are deceptively complex. At their most basic, they simply describe what the camera can "see" and seem...
Camera Focusing Tutorial on Oct 14, 2019
Camera focus is fundamental to quality imaging. Mistakes can significantly reduce details, making cameras less effective. In this guide, we...
Lens Iris Tutorial on Aug 08, 2019
Cameras, like humans, have irises, controlling the light which hits the imager and impacting image details. However, cameras have multiple types of...
Fujifilm Expanding Into Video Surveillance on Jul 26, 2019
While Sony continues to fade out of the video surveillance market and Canon continues to make huge investments into acquiring video surveillance...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...
China PRC Government New National Video Surveillance Standards on May 14, 2019
The People's Republic of China (PRC) government has released a new set of overarching standards for authorities to follow when they install video...

Most Recent Industry Reports

VergeSense Presents People Tracking Sensor on Jun 04, 2020
VergeSense presented its people tracking sensor and social distancing insights at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from...
FLIR A Series Temperature Screening Cameras Tested on Jun 04, 2020
FLIR is one of the biggest names in thermal and one of the most conservative. While rivals have marketed fever detection, FLIR has stuck to EST...
"Fever Camera" Show On-Demand Watch Now on Jun 03, 2020
IPVM has successfully completed the world's first "Fever Camera" show. Recordings from Both days are posted at the end of this report for on-demand...
Cobalt Robotics Presents Indoor Security and Access Robots on Jun 03, 2020
Cobalt Robotics presented indoor security robots at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from Cobalt...
Dahua Sues Ex-North American President, Says Legal Typo on Jun 03, 2020
Dahua's former North American President Frank Zhang claims he is owed almost $11 million but Dahua counter claims it is just a "scrivener's error",...
Smart Entry Systems Presents Cloud Multi-Tenant Access Control on Jun 02, 2020
Smart Entry Systems presented Cloud Multi-Tenant Access Control at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video...
Genetec Drops Support for Dahua and Hikvision on Jun 01, 2020
Genetec has dropped support for Dahua and Hikvision, citing US blacklisting and ONVIF conformance blockage, the company informed partners in an...
Dotty "Hot Or Not" Elevated Body Temperature App Tested on Jun 01, 2020
What if you could take an existing phone or tablet and transform it into "fever camera"? That is what DottyAR is doing with their strangely named...
Optris "Fever Screening Systems" Examined on Jun 01, 2020
German manufacturer Optris has been building temperature measuring instruments for industrial manufacturing for over 15 years, and thermal cameras...
Fever Camera Sales From Integrators Surveyed on Jun 01, 2020
Fever cameras are the hottest trend in video surveillance currently but how much are integrators selling them? 220 integrators answered the...