How Do You Solve the Problem of Bad Surveillance Video?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jun 30, 2009

One of the most frequent complaints by both industry outsiders and megapixel camera vendors is how bad surveillance video is. It's so bad, many would say that they would challenge the basic point of even having such cameras.

Cases demonstrating this problem come up all the time. Here's an informative one recently from a California city

It's almost impossible to make out who the criminal is in this video. To most people, this would be considered bad quality.

Is There Any Worth?

I still think there was significant value from this video for the authorities. They were able to pinpoint the exact time, the clothing of the suspect, gender and body type. All of these can be powerful tools in pursuing leads and narrowing down suspects.

What Do You Think?

What Can We Do to Improve?

First, getting good video quality in these conditions is not a simple manner of moving to megapixel. As we recently examined, the 'real' resolution of megapixel is routinely less than the pixel count stated and low light levels are problematic for megapixel.

There are some things we can do:

  • The light level is almost certainly too low. To rectify this, we will have to add lighting or infrared illuminators. The problem with this is the expense. Minimally, costs will increase by $500 USD but depending on the range of illumination and the complexity of install, it could be significantly higher.
  • The camera may need to be positioned differently to get a better view of the criminal. This is hard one to tell with the limited information I have. I suspect the camera was designed to capture vehicles coming down the alley. As such, the camera was not designed to handle this type of 'attack'. This, too, reflects a real world problem where cost constaints constrains the total number of cameras that can be deployed.
  • The camera needs greater resolution - certainly. The question, though is how much resolution and how do we achieve it. The person's face looks to be 1/25th the width of the image or less. To see any details, we would likely need 300% (or more) increase in horizontal resolution. This is likely to push the limits of resolution levels we can achieve with security cameras today. Alternatively, we could narrow the field of view but we may need to give up the view of the street which the client may not want.

What would you recommend?

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hacked Hikvision IP Camera Map USA And Europe on Jan 22, 2018
The interactive map below shows a sample of hacked and vulnerable Hikvision IP cameras across the USA and Europe. Hover over a marker to see an...
Hanwha Wave VMS Tested on Jan 22, 2018
Hanwha has released their first open platform VMS, Wisenet Wave, an Network Optix OEM (see test results) enhanced with integrations and...
Resolution Usage Statistics 2018 - Moving Up From 1080p on Jan 22, 2018
In 2016, IPVM statistics showed the most common camera resolution used was 1080p, rising from 2014's 720p. Now, new IPVM statistics of 200+...
PoE Powered Access Control Tutorial on Jan 19, 2018
Powering access control with Power over Ethernet is becoming increasingly common.  However, access requires more power than cameras, and the...
If You Have 4 Cameras, You Can Throw Them Away, If You Have 400, They Throw You Away on Jan 19, 2018
Do users care about anything but price? Do user care about cybersecurity? Do users care about trusting their supplier? These have become...
Chinese Government Hikvision Surveillance System On US Government Network on Jan 18, 2018
Hikvision, the Chinese government-owned manufacturer, has publicly claimed that their products are running on a US government network. Moreover,...
Winter 2018 Camera Course on Jan 18, 2018
Learn video surveillance and get certified. Register now. Save $50 on the course, ending this Thursday the 18th, plus get access to 2 class times...
VSaaS Usage Statistics 2018 on Jan 18, 2018
VSaaS has been a 'next big thing' for more than a decade. The prospect of managing, storing and streaming video from the cloud rather than...
Vivint Streety Video Strengthens Door Knocking on Jan 17, 2018
Vivint is famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) for mastering large scale door to door selling. The company has skyrocketed from a...
Axis: "It’s A Question Of Trust And Who You Want To Be Associated With" on Jan 17, 2018
Who do you trust? Who do you want to be associated with? Axis is raising hard questions to start 2018. In this note, we examine these questions,...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact