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Video surveillance has become both a fact of everyday life and a central mission of command and control facilities. Today, though, surveillance means much more than it did just a short time ago. In place of a security guard facing a small bank of grainy black-and-white CCTV monitors, today's surveillance systems bring together high quality video feeds from scores or hundreds of remotely controlled cameras.

Urban mass transit systems are one key arena in which surveillance video cameras are proliferating. They've also become ubiquitous at airports, rail, and bus stations, and in a multitude of other settings. This greatly multiplies the amount of video data that must be transported and displayed. Traditional analog systems, based on coaxial cable or fiber, are not very flexible or scalable, and their costs rise dramatically as the need to gather and process video expands.

Faced with a dramatic growth in the number of video sources that must be managed in a typical control facility, end users have also had to deal with the prohibitive cost of transporting video signals in traditional ways.

One response to this challenge has been adoption of internet protocol (IP) networks and compressed video as a highly versatile means of moving data from place to place and manipulating it for useful, decision-supporting display. This trend has increased the demand for highly capable display controllers, and created a major global business opportunity for dealers and integrators with expertise in handling networked video images.
Although security is the main driver for this expansion in video surveillance, many systems support other missions as well.

For example, a recently completed system at the Madrid Barajas International Airport in Spain provides surveillance capabilities, but it also enables the airport to see, in real time, what airlines, flights, and crews are using their gates. Airports bill airlines for gate usage, so having an accurate record of who is using a gate and for how long is a major advantage.

Baggage handling is another focus of the system, which can not only perform the basic security tasks of monitoring access and traffic in a baggage facility but can also detect when bags fall from conveyors or are misplaced. The Madrid airport uses a 14-cube video wall served by two high end Jupiter Fusion 980 display wall processors.

An even larger display wall array is at work in Munich, where baggage, airport personnel, passengers and other concerns are all under continuous video monitoring. Surveillance video shares display space with a variety of other applications, which all reinforce each other. As a result, control room users get a complete and current "picture" of everything going on at the airport. This is a strong trend in Europe and elsewhere-bringing all available data together in one place, at one time.

The Munich command and control facility is served by a six-by-three cube array, which performs a variety of tasks and displays data from a large number of sources. This integration cannot be accomplished without high end processing capabilities. The Munich airport system relies on Fusion 970 processors from Jupiter.

If any common theme unites all of today's leading-edge control systems, it is the need to "see at a distance." Yesterday's managers were limited to low quality, black and white, partial-motion video from a limited number of cameras directly wired into their displays. But today the name of the game is flexibility. As hardware costs continue to spiral downward and quality continues to improve, users are opting for more cameras in more places, generating ever-larger data streams. They're using high bandwidth IP networks to move the data around, and powerful display controllers like the Jupiter Fusion Display Wall Processors to put that data into an easily understood and actionable form.

One of the most striking things about this growth in command and control is the diversity of the settings in which it is taking place. Even relatively small cities are building control rooms to manage their police, fire, highway, and transit systems. Major transit systems all over the country are challenged to modernize, not just to improve security but to enhance service as well and to enable system managers to respond promptly to disruptions.

And the trend is truly global. One of the largest opportunities for integrators today is in Turkey, where the government has recently mandated installation of Intelligent Traffic Management and security systems in all of its large cities, an estimated installation of some 250-2,500 systems.

This is a major opportunity for experienced systems integrators, and one that will only continue to grow in importance.