When Mercury Fire & Security was asked to create a fully mobile CCTV solution for Nottingham-based client Magpie Security, it turned to Hikvision to confront the triple perils of dust, vibration and the British weather. Lewis Foster, Mercury's General Manager, and Sam Futer, Technical Operations Manager at Magpie Security, provide more details on the UK's speediest surveillance solution.
Magpie Security is one of the UK's leading security and training companies, providing its clients with comprehensive security services specially tailored to their requirements. With a client base of businesses both large and small throughout the UK, the company's projects are highly diverse and often require equipment sourced from several different hardware producers.
The latest offering from Magpie can be spotted in the Nottingham area: a pair of surveillance vans deployed with guards to patrol sensitive and high risk sites where a strong security presence is required. The vans were developed with Mercury Fire & Security, which supplied the Hikvision cameras and Network Video Recorders that lie at the heart of this unique CCTV solution. Mercury also installed a solar panel and batteries to power the system without continuously running the vehicles' engines and sourced a 3G router from Eseye Communications. Depending on the success of the project over an initial trial period, the new solution will be rolled out to additional vehicles in the near future.
Pushing to the limit
The process of constructing a fully mobile security solution rather than the usual stationary system presents a different kind of challenge for implementation teams. Both vehicles are fitted with 4 HD turret cameras, with one van also equipped with a PTZ camera and NVR to act as a kind of mobile HQ. But this equipment faces an environmental and durability challenge far beyond the majority of conventional stationary CCTV solutions.
Lewis Foster, General Manager at Mercury Fire & Security, says, "Being vehicle mounted, the cameras and recorder are obviously in a harsh environment. The vehicle is expected to still drive at 70mph, to withstand the usual potholes and speed bumps, and to be operable 24 hours a day. Vibration is the main challenge with this setup but, so far, the Hikvision cameras have withstood several months without a hiccup. Obviously the large PTZ camera that we fitted is a little more delicate and so, for reliability, this is strapped during transit. In any case, it has been very reliable and performed faultlessly.
"Magpie Security requested internet access to the cameras meaning a capable 3G router was required and this streams the video live to guards on site on their mobile phones so they can patrol and still utilise the vehicle. Fortunately the IVMS-4500 app allows this to securely be easily set up on a number of guards' phones."
Lewis says each vehicle is equipped with four DS-2CD2332-I turret cameras. "For us, the EXIR infrared on these cameras is unbeatable," he says. "In trials, we found that dome cameras can suffer from reflection of the IR but the turret cameras are absolutely perfect. They're sealed, so there's no risk of moisture getting into the camera, they're easily adjusted if necessary, and the image quality is fantastic. They give full 360 degree coverage around the van and ensure nothing is missed while tracking with the PTZ for further detail.
"The competitive price of the entry level Hikvision DS-2DE7184-A IP PTZ was the primary reason for using it in this trial system but the image quality, IR range, and optical zoom have blown away our client. At the same time, the strong mounting brackets have withstood the vibration from driving without issue, which was critical to the success of the entire project. The PTZ allows the operative in the vehicle to track targets and to get a detailed view of the surrounding area and of distant objects.
"We were confident that the turret cameras themselves would withstand any vibration and so we have mounted them securely to the vehicle using standard brackets mounted to a bespoke frame created especially for the vehicle. The NVR is a little more sensitive due to the hard drive, so foam insulation was placed around the NVR to offer some cushioning during motion. Care was taken not to block up the vents in the NVR and this solution has proved to be very reliable, which is a testament to the quality of the Hikvision equipment.
"The HERA601 router has proven very reliable and gives solid 3G performance. The main vehicle battery is connected to the independent 200Ah CCTV batteries, which allows charging of all the batteries whenever the engine is running. In addition, the 250w solar panel we selected keeps the 200Ah batteries charged during the day, ready for night usage. All the CCTV equipment is powered through an inverter, including the on-board 40 inch monitor that gives a great view of all the cameras."
Potential for a new market
The new mobile solution suggests a promising future for both Mercury Fire & Security and Magpie Security, with initial trials proving that the equipment is withstanding all the demands placed on a mobile solution. Sam Futer, Technical Operations Manager at Magpie Security, says, "This project has pushed the equipment to the limits in a harsh environment. Ensuring reliable operation of the equipment has been critical and solving the issues with solar power gives an eco-friendly solution, meaning the engine doesn't need to constantly be running. So far the equipment has stood up well to the inherent vibration and gives great quality for a price far below specifically-designed vehicle solutions."
On the future potential for both the new solution and the use of more Hikvision products within Mercury Security's business endeavors, Lewis Foster says, "This project may be the beginning of a new market for us. Vehicle-mounted CCTV has already been used by the police for years but, until now, the price has been prohibitive, with vehicle-mounted PTZ cameras costing many thousands. Now, we're able to offer quality equipment for a very competitive price. Certainly we hope to continue to partner with Magpie Security, offering additions to their existing vehicles and further CCTV vehicles as their contracts using the vehicles grow.
"Hikvision has proven itself to be an exceptional force in the industry, frequently going far beyond the call of duty in helping us to deliver the solution we required. Their equipment is extremely competitive and in our relatively short time with Hikvision we've noticed regular firmware upgrades and an obvious drive for excellence. There have been some inevitable occasions when something hasn't worked and the support through our distributors, Dynamic CCTV, has been fantastic. If they couldn't solve it, Dynamic have been happy to discuss options with Hikvision directly and tailored firmware has been offered. This just doesn't happen anywhere else and fills us with confidence for our future with Hikvision."