Video from fixed cameras is becoming part of normal everyday operations for public safety organisations. It provides police officers and their commanders with a richer situational awareness and a greater immediate control of dynamic situations.
But although static cameras are proving useful, they have their limitations. A mobile video solution would enable commanders to see a situation immediately through the eyes of an officer on the street.
A truly mobile video set up allows public safety organisations to provide a high quality, dynamic response to unfolding situations whose location could not have been predicted in advance. By giving officers a ‘heads up’ of the situation it enables them to prepare better, which helps safeguard teams at the scene.
The enhanced situational awareness provided by video enables dispatchers to allocate the right number and type of resource to any given problem. When a situation occurs, cameras can be quickly switched to focus on an incident, such as when responding to calls for help from an officer.
But there are a number ofchallenges that have to be overcome before mobile video can be efficiently deployed, such as dealing with the variability of the bandwidth. If a mobile video source is near the wireless antenna the user will get the full pipe, but as he moves away the bandwidth may drop off severely.
Predicting how much bandwidth to expect is fraught with problems. If you guess too high and the bandwidth drops below your limit, you will get severe degradation or even total loss of video. If you guess too low then you may under utilise the bandwidth and miss the opportunity of having higher quality video.
End users also have to make a trade off between the number of video streams being transmitted and the resolution of each stream. Under normal circumstances a police authority may be able to cope with multiple streams, with each having an equal share of the bandwidth and streaming video of acceptable quality.
But if an incident occurs the controllers may need to increase the bandwidth available to, say, an officer at the scene of the trouble, to get a clear view of the incident. This may mean reducing or even cutting off mobile video from other sources.
Motorola has developed solutions to meet the challenges of deploying mobile video systems. Its MVX1000 In-Car Digital Video system (available in the USA in Q1 2011) records video from vehicle-mounted cameras and audio from a microphone worn by the officer.
The MVX1000 can be used in association with Motorola’s Realtime Video Intelligence (RTVI), which is designed to ensure uninterrupted real-time transmission over private and commercial wireless networks. When the two products are used together, video and audio from the MVX1000 can be streamed to the command centre in real-time.
Many wireless video systems use buffering techniques to give them time to resend any pixels lost in transmission.
This creates a short delay in the video stream, perhaps two-five seconds. That’s perfectly acceptable when viewing a football match, but when public safety is on the line, those few seconds are vital. The Realtime Video Intelligence system is designed not to delay the video stream; other ways are used to deal with lost pixels.
RTVI provides a true, real-time view by adaptively encoding any video stream (fixed or mobile) to make the best use of the available bandwidth and the capabilities of the end users equipment. If the client is using a PDA, it encodes the transmission to no more than the PDA’s maximum resolution to prevent it from overwhelming the client and wasting bandwidth.
If the bandwidth changes as the end user moves or the conditions change, RTVI will re-encode the video stream to match the available bandwidth. It also provides error correction for drops in signal loss. If multiple users request video from the same source, the source only sends it once and the RTVI duplicates and re-encodes the video stream for each client.
The second major challenge is how command centres cope with the addition of data and multiple video streams on top of all the phone and radio communications they already have to deal with.
Staff can only watch so many video feeds at a time and only for so long. But if the video is simply stored for later use, the benefit of monitoring and reacting to incidents as they happen is lost.
What is needed is a means of recognising which video streams should be shown and when. Command centre personnel need a handful of video streams that are important at a particular moment: for example, a scene where a burglar alarm has gone off or an officer is in distress; a scene where something out of the ordinary is taking place – an unattended bag, a vehicle stopped on a motorway or a break-in.
Motorola’s Optimized Video Security solutions provide a way of doing this. Video analytics automatically monitor video streams looking for something ‘unusual’ to bring to the attention of command centre personnel. Video can be integrated with Motorola’s CAD (computer aided dispatch) system, allowing end users to retrieve video from sources nearest to the dispatched officer.
Optimized Video Security also allows for synchronisation of fixed video, mobile video, radio and phone logs to allow a review of the whole incident from multiple points of view simultaneously.
The ability to recreate the incident and view it will be of great benefit for training purposes or for use by prosecutors in court. It becomes a way of turning juries into witnesses, increasing the power of the prosecution’s case.
Motorola’s end-to-end solution for mobile video
Motorola has developed a complete end-to-end solution to meet the challenges of deploying mobile video. Services and products include:
• Planning and deployment advice
• Fixed video equipment
• Mobile video equipment, including: the MW810 mobile workstation; the MVX1000 In-Car video system; and handheld computers such as the MC75A and ES400
• Bandwidth: Motorola’s solution is designed to work with wireless mesh data networks, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint wireless backhaul systems and wireless LAN and LTE when it becomes available
• Control and analytics software
• Video storage solutions
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