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Video surveillance is a standard and crucial element of security in many locations, including healthcare organizations, military structures, education facilities, hotels, malls, street shops, and more. Video surveillance is also a critical element of traffic control. 

Despite its benefit, video surveillance can also be a liability, because of the massive amount of energy and resources this technology consumer. In this article, you will learn about the latest trends set to make video surveillance greener.

What Is Video Surveillance?

Video surveillance is the process of monitoring an area or location with cameras. It is done to help identify and record behaviors or actions that are deemed inappropriate, unsafe, or are forbidden.

Often video surveillance is used to record human activity but you can use it for any surveillance purpose. For example, monitoring machinery to ensure it continues operating correctly. Common uses of video surveillance include monitoring traffic patterns, public spaces, or watching the perimeter of protected areas.

Video surveillance systems are groups of networked cameras that are used across a specific area or region. Typically, feeds from the cameras are sent to a centralized location where videos are monitored, recorded, and stored. 

Making Video Surveillance Greener

Below, you’ll find a review of the most current efforts organizations and researchers are implementing for the purpose of making video surveillance greener.

Using IP surveillance solutions 

It is well known that running a large server room takes a significant amount of energy. Unfortunately, much of which is used simply to power and cool servers rather than for the processing and computations for which servers are intended. Large scale surveillance operations require multiple servers and sometimes even multiple rooms of servers. This adds up to significant use of electrical power.

To combat this and achieve the same surveillance in a more energy-efficient way, you need to find a way to reduce the number of servers used. One option for this is the use of IP cameras. IP cameras send data directly over internet streams. These cameras do not require a local recording device as closed-circuit television (CCTV) or DVR systems do. This means that existing infrastructure can be shared and that total resources can be reduced.

Compressing video data to conserve resources

Surveillance videos can take up massive amounts of storage space, which translates into additional storage devices and increased energy use. Security camera video compression technologies such as Motion JPEG, MPEG-4 and H.264 allow users to transmit and record high-quality security videos while reducing storage space and also bandwidth consumption. The new H.265 standard, achieves higher video quality with even lower storage requirements.

Intelligent video analytics

Many IP cameras come equipped with video motion detection (VMD). However, the accuracy of this detection varies between devices. Highly sensitive devices are likely to be triggered more often. This creates large amounts of data that must then be transferred, processed, and stored. Unfortunately, many of these recordings are likely irrelevant, leading to wasted effort and energy.

Improving the accuracy of VMD can help you reduce your resource use and ensure that you are only creating and storing relevant footage. To achieve this, you can incorporate video analytics. Analytics enable you to define what triggers recording, including lines or zones of detection. You may also be able to define the size of trigger objects, which can help reduce unwanted triggering by birds or other small animals.

Even better, some cameras include edge processing, which can perform analytics on the device itself. This can help you avoid wasting resources and energy transferring or temporarily storing footage until it is processed.

Camera density per server

Many surveillance deployments use large numbers of cameras to comprehensively cover an area. With traditional deployments, you can often only host a handful of cameras on each server. With IP cameras, however, you can often host several hundred cameras per server. This can significantly reduce the resources needed.

For example, a traditional camera deployment with 70 cameras might require around three 4U servers. A comparable IP camera deployment would only require one 2U server. This enables you to host more cameras on your existing server space. It might also enable you to decommission resources, further reducing your energy requirements.

Raw material choices

The materials that cameras are manufactured from are another area of improvement you can target. Cameras can contain a wide array of materials, including various metals, synthetics, minerals, and chemicals. Manufacturing all of these materials takes energy and resources. Also, once cameras are no longer needed, devices often end up in landfills since materials aren’t recyclable.

Knowing this, some manufacturers have begun making cameras from recycled materials. These materials may be sourced from consumer plastics, old computers, or other manufacturer’s scrap. Many of these camera makers also take efforts to reduce other harmful materials in their products. For example, eliminating the use of halogen, PVC, or bromine. These chemicals can be found in traditional devices, outdoor cables, transistors, and circuit boards; all of which may be used in surveillance deployments.

IR LEDs vs low light 

Infrared (IR) LEDs are often used in cameras that record dark or poorly lit areas. These cameras can detect scenes that would otherwise be missed by cameras with standard light ranges. However, these cameras are often energy inefficient, trading power consumption for a broader recording range.

As an alternative, you might consider using cameras that include low-light technologies. These cameras, like IR LED cameras, can capture scenes even when there is little available light. However, unlike IR LED cameras, low-light cameras can also produce color images. Although this technology is still advancing, it has the potential to enable significantly better results with less power and processing.

Avoid built-in heaters

Depending on your location, you may have cameras with built-in coolers or heaters. Just like any other climate control these features can consume a significant amount of energy. To avoid or reduce this energy consumption, try to use cameras that have purpose-built housings and components. These can ensure that your cameras stay functional while being a bit greener.

Decentralized systems

Decentralized systems can enable you to save energy by eliminating the need for centralized storage servers. In these systems, recordings are stored on the device itself, often on an SD card. While this may not be practical for all systems, it can be ideal for smaller systems. Additionally, any servers you can eliminate represent worthwhile energy savings. 

Conclusion

Video surveillance can be a powerful tool for helping keep organizations, areas, and people safe. However, capturing, reviewing, storing, and analyzing video can take a significant number of resources. Techniques like video compression and IP surveillance can help you reduce resource and energy consumption. Intelligent analyses and decentralized systems can help you optimize surveillance. You can also save on resources by using raw energy-efficient raw materials and lighting.

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