Deployment of Police Car NVR systems over the years has resulted in greater professionalism from officers and reduction in lawsuits based on baseless claims saving millions of dollars to the law enforcement authorities. Recording the events that take place during police interactions with the public or when responding to crimes taking place is of critical importance for scrutiny of officer behavior and that of the offenders. Video recording deters the offenders from crossing the line when apprehended by the police officer and later of course it serves as evidence as part of the investigation or trial.
IP vs Analog Cameras
The most widely used systems tend to be more traditional analog systems as they have been on the market for far longer and are a cheaper initial purchase than their IP alternatives. Most analog cameras work by recording an analog signal as pictures on a video tape or by sending the signal to a digital video recorder (DVR) that works in a similar way to a video capture card connected to a PC with recording software. One of the main disadvantages of analog systems is the limitations on video resolution inherent in analog cameras that can inhibit their use in identifying suspects, vehicles or other evidence. Therefore advanced features of the video management system (VMS) such as facial recognition, ALPR, vehicle classification cannot be deployed using Analog Cameras.
IP cameras offer onboard encoding of video that is then sent to an NVR they are connected on the network. NVR’s are used in environments where recording needs to be decentralized or where the number of cameras are not going to be too high. IP Cameras are also deployed for large scale surveillance projects where the recording and storage is on a centralized redundant video server which is connected with dozens of IP cameras through a PoE switch. NVR’s and Video Servers are open architecture hardware based systems that can work with any windows or Linux based video management software. IP cameras are also capable of much greater image and video quality than traditional analog cameras and are thus a much greater asset to law enforcement when it comes to the analysis of footage and subsequent identification of suspects. Another advantage of using IP systems is that they can be plugged directly into the Car NVR with PoE ports reducing the need of having a separate power cable to turn on the camera.
DVR or NVR?
There are three options in terms of onboard video recording hardware – (1) Analog Car DVR (2) IP Video Car NVR (3) Hybrid NVR.
One basic difference between NVR and DVR is that latter receives video feed from the analog cameras that do not have the onboard encoding capability and simply transmit the digitally compressed video to the DVR where the encoding takes place. Encoding is converting video from one format to another. This set up requires DVR to be in close proximity of the cameras – which of course is not an issue in case of a Mobile DVR deployed on the car.
NVR’s on the other hand work with IP cameras that have onboard encoding and encoded feed is sent to NVR for recording and storage, which can be accessed remotely from anywhere on the network using WAN/ cellular, WiFi and LAN. Hybrid NVR offer capability to connect with both IP and Analog cameras.
How does a top notch Police Car NVR hardware look like?
Car NVR vendors are turning to 4 channel PC based IP Video Surveillance system, built on mid to high range commercial CPU providing enough horsepower to run advanced ad-on features of the video management system such as ALPR. PC-based Car NVR should also work as the mobile workstation platform for the officer with ports to connect with a display and a keyboard.
It needs to be a flat mountable small form factor unit with ideally 1-Din slot to provide a console based installation option. Ride in the police car isn’t always a smooth one which is why military grade shock and vibration protection is vital to withstand bumps and sharp maneuvers of hot pursuit car chases. Wide operating temperature and dust proofing are two other important physical features to ensure longevity of the system. For storage, support for one or two Solid State SD cards with locking slots. Capability to offload video using high speed Wifi transfer, USB or SD Card. Onboard GPS, WiFi and 3G/4G features are among the basic pre-requisites of Car NVR systems these days.
In the future, the ability of advanced cameras to produce resolutions closer to 4K and beyond will grant law enforcement agencies even better visibility and analysis by which they can more effectively do their job. Facial recognition technology, while still in its infancy, is another game-changing feature some future cameras could have built in to them. The use of this kind of identification software, coupled with AI or deep learning applications that search criminal databases and personnel records could bring forth an entirely new era of video security. For now, law enforcement will have to continue deciding how long it waits before making the switch from analog to IP.