When the topic of video surveillance is brought up, the first application that usually comes to mind is security. Often referred to as CCTV, traditional video systems have been a mainstay in protecting water and wastewater facility and perimeter activity for decades.

But as recording technology has improved over the last five years, so has video’s capabilities. Thermal video cameras, in particular, have great potential for enhancing operational efficiency. The technology adds infrared imaging to supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), programmable logic controllers (PLC), and human machine interface (HMI) systems as possible visual interfaces for monitoring and tweaking collection, treatment, and distribution functions.

Water and wastewater utility managers can integrate the data from one or all of these systems to provide a single, comprehensive overview called a video management system (VMS).

In the beginning, there was security

As we have seen the migration from analog to digital technology over the years, we’ve also seen the introduction of megapixel cameras capable of delivering high-definition video. In addition to showing a static field of view, today’s fixed and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) video cameras also can be programmed to perform complex analytics.

The software they come with utilizes mathematical algorithms to establish a baseline for a given scene. When pixel differences indicate changes in size, color, or movement that exceeds defined criteria thresholds, personnel are notified of an alarm state.

Possible tracking characteristics include:

  • Adaptive motion – Detects and tracks objects that enter a scene and then triggers an alarm when the objects enter a user-defined zone or cross a virtual trip wire.
  • Camera sabotage – Detects contrast changes in the field of view. An alarm is triggered if the lens is obstructed with spray paint, a cloth, or lens cap. Any unauthorized repositioning of the camera also triggers an alarm.
  • Loitering detection – Identifies when people or vehicles remain in a defined zone longer than the user-defined time allows.
  • Object removal – Triggers an alarm when an object defined in a specific area is removed.
  • Object counting – Counts the number of objects that enter a defined zone or cross a trip wire.
  • Stopped vehicle – Detects vehicles stopped near a sensitive area longer than the user-defined time allows.

Next page: Beyond security: operational video