Public View Monitors

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Mar 14, 2012

Showing that video surveillance is in use can be a powerful crime deterrent as criminals seek out environments where their illegal activity cannot be observed. A common method of doing this is with Public View Monitors. These monitors show the public what security cameras see. In this note, we examine these devices, where they are commonly deployed, and how effective their use is considered.

Monitor types

Two major types of public view monitors are commonly deployed:

  • Monitors displays a feed from a DVR/NVR/VMS. These displays are commonly commercial off-the-shelf LCD displays that are hung from ceiling or wall mounts and connected to head end servers via component connections or HDMI adapters.
  • Monitors that include an integrated camera, displaying the local field of view immediately in front of the monitor. These type of monitors often include an output that can be connected to a DVR or NVR for recording. The views on these displays are generally fixed to display only the integrated camera. 

Setup

Setting up a monitor with an integrated camera is easy. The video displayed is a local output from the connected camera. These units can then be directly connected to a DVR or via encoder to an VMS. Video from these units are then recorded just like any other analog camera.

The other major type is connecting the 'head end' DVR/NVR via a local video output jack to the public view monitor. The video connection formats are not always standard among displays and head end units. For example, if an (analog) 12 or 15 pin VGA output is available on the head end, then attention must be paid to ensure the display has the appropriate inputs. Increasingly, DVI or HDMI (digital) inputs are supported by flat panel displays, and external adapters may be required to make proper connections. Care should be taken to plan cabling runs with exotic AV formats. VGA or HDMI terminated cables can be purchased in 50 foot (and longer) lengths, but these type of cables are not field terminated. Pulling these factory terminated cables could be difficult in the field. Other options for running these cables include UTP converters or specialty connector packaged cabling. We covered this subject in our update titled "Extending Surveillance Monitor Signal / Cable Runs".

If the recorder does not support outputs to local displays or if the physical distance is too great to connect monitors via AV cabling, then a dedicated workstation may be required. This situation is especially common when leveraging IP solutions hosted on server hardware not designed to support local video outputs. In this case, connecting a low-end workstation to the network and running the monitor from that computer may be necessary. This is a costly approach were analog components and systems have a market price advantage.

How are they used?

'General' public view monitors are hung in a central area like a lobby or front desk to show outward evidence to all visitors that video surveillance is in use facility wide. These monitors may have some operational benefit to show 'trouble spots' at a glance, in a fashion similar to a formal video wall. These monitors are configured to 'carousel' through preassigned views or 'pop up' views where some type of trigger has occurred, like a motion detection event or door contact break.

'Hotspot' monitors show one specific view. This primarily is used as a method to deter shoplifting or pilferage in the local area. One specific camera view is displayed to all people within the area. This type of monitor is favored in retail to make it plainly obvious the area, or customers, are being watched. Beyond deployment in main entry areas, like the image above depicts, retail operators will sometimes deploy these monitors in 'high value' areas. These areas might be pharmacy departments, electronic displays, liquor shelves, or any other floor space where expensive, easy to shoplift items are located. The justification for this deployment is that an activity like shoplifting stands a much greater chance of being seen via Public View Monitors and is thereby discouraged from taking place.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Are they effective?

Public View Monitors prove to be a common equipment deterrent to crime. The use of Public View Monitors qualify as a CPTED strategy. Observing CPTED places great value on the use of landscaping, lighting, signage, monitoring, fencing, and architecture to influence offender decisions. In our informal LinkedIn poll [link no longer available], respondents overwhelmingly voted Public View Monitors as 'useful'. The common adoption of this tool in retail also indicates apparent effectiveness. Many of the world's largest retailers have adopted Public View Monitors as part of their surveillance deployments.

Restricted Use

In some areas, regulation may govern the use of Public View Monitors. In the UK, use of public view monitoring is restricted for use [link no longer available] in that "Viewing of live images on monitors should usually be restricted to the operator unless the monitor displays a scene which is also in plain sight from the monitor location." 

In the US, the 'Privacy Rule' clause [link no longer available] in the HIPPA Act may restrict position of public view monitors depending on what information can be seen by surveillance cameras. The commonly cited 'reasonable expectation of privacy' may also prohibit deployment of these monitors near changing rooms or restrooms.

4 reports cite this report:

Installing Cameras in Plenums Tutorial on May 15, 2018
There is often confusion about plenum ceilings, with misinformation about what is required when running cables through them and mounting cameras...
QSR Video Surveillance Best Practices on Jun 21, 2017
Fast food restaurants or QSRs (quick service restaurants), are frequent victims of crime and fraud. Because they are open late, deal with cash, and...
Gas Station Surveillance Best Practices on Jun 07, 2017
Gas stations are a frequent crime target. They tend to be open late at night, do a large volume of their business in cash, and have few employees,...
Testing $50 Mini NVR on Jan 14, 2015
As an NVR, this performed very really badly. But, as a member suggested to us, could a $50 mini NVR be used as an IP / HD spot monitor? Adding...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

2020 Camera Book Released on Jan 10, 2020
This is the best, most comprehensive security camera training in the world, based on our unprecedented testing. Now, all IPVM PRO Members can get...
Police Department Surveillance Manager Interview on Feb 28, 2019
Former Memphis PD Surveillance Manager, Lt. Joseph Patty retired months ago, but kept busy during his decades on the force, working to build up...
US City Sued For Hiding Surveillance Camera Map on Mar 08, 2019
UPDATE: The judgment is now in and updated information is at the bottom of the post. Should maps of public surveillance camera locations be kept...
Large US University End-User Video Surveillance Interview on Mar 18, 2019
Schools have become targets in modern days of active shooters and terrorist fears. The need for video and access security is high. Universities...
Casino Security Consultant Carl Lindgren Interview on Mar 26, 2019
For more than 20 years, Carl Lindgren [link no longer available] worked as a casino surveillance pro, while being active (and sometimes outspoken)...
Manufacturer Favorability Guide 2019 on Jun 12, 2019
The 259 page PDF guide may be downloaded inside by all IPVM members. It includes our manufacturer favorability rankings and individual...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
The Scheme Hikvision and China Importers Use To Avoid Tariffs on Jun 17, 2019
Hikvision and numerous China importers are avoiding 25% tariffs by including an SD card slot in their IP cameras to claim they are 'digital still...
Camera Calculator V3.1 Release Improves User Experience on Oct 17, 2019
IPVM has released a new version of our Camera Calculator, V3.1, with significant user experience improvements, a new development plan, and an...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Motorola / Avigilon Drops ISC West on Feb 26, 2020
Motorola Solutions has pulled out of ISC West 2020 effective immediately, because of coronavirus concerns, IPVM has learned. This is done amidst...
Cancel or Not? Industry Split Over ISC West on Feb 26, 2020
The industry is split, polarized, over whether ISC West 2020 should run or be canceled. New IPVM survey results of 400+ respondents show heated...
Coronavirus Hits Sony, Bosch Says Switch on Feb 26, 2020
Sony's fall in video surveillance has been severe over the past decade. Now, they may be done. In this note, we examine Bosch's new...
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...
Favorite Video Analytic Manufacturers 2020 on Feb 25, 2020
Video analytics is now as hot as ever, driven by the excitement of advancing deep learning offers. But what are actually integrator's...
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...
Masks Cause Major Facial Recognition Problems on Feb 24, 2020
Coronavirus is spurring an increase in the use of medical masks, which new IPVM test results show cause major problems for facial recognition...
Every VMS Will Become a VSaaS on Feb 21, 2020
VMS is ending. Soon every VMS will be a VSaaS. Competitive dynamics will be redrawn. What does this mean? VMS Historically...
Video Surveillance 101 Course - Last Chance on Feb 20, 2020
This is the last chance to join IPVM's first Video Surveillance 101 course, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the...
Vulnerability Directory For Access Credentials on Feb 20, 2020
Knowing which access credentials are insecure can be difficult to see, especially because most look and feel the same. Even insecure 125 kHz...