Globally, surveillance has been effective for myriad applications. From general crime prevention to precise military intelligence and space exploration, it has progressed at a rapid rate with technology providing all the impetus in this highly complex field. Local surveillance professionals, JIST, have been a part of the drive that has significantly changed the way the world keeps a lookout.

Michael Gelderbloem of JIST,rather lightheartedly, notes that what we have witnessed in movies through the years may not be as fictional as it first seems. He says, “We are in the future now in terms of the sophistication of surveillance and what was only conceptual theory in movies, is now reality. Data received from cameras is being converted more accurately, clearer and at a much faster rate than ever before, and we are still only at the foot of a steep upward trend as far as this technology is concerned.”

Surveillance technology has become exceedingly complex and there is a danger that with this intricacy comes an over complication of the client’s core demands. While surveillance solutions, by their nature need more eyes on the ground, it does not necessarily mean that more cameras and software or additional hardware will offer ideal solutions. Michael says that we can turn to robot technology to boost surveillance applicationsand still keep to a philosophy of simplicity.

Robot Operating System (ROS), a software platform with operating system-like functionality, has been around for some time and provides efficient standard services including low-level device control and a range of exceptional functionality. The system is essentially Linux-based and consists of an operating system and a suite of user contributed packages that implement multidimensional functionality. ROS is open source based and contributed packages fall under a range of licenses.

Michael highlights some functionality of ROS applications that can significantly enhance surveillance to offer holistic, yet simple, solutions:

▪         Identification of objects and facial recognition

▪         Number plate recognition or absence detection

▪         Motion detection, including predetermined gestures and 3D tracking

▪         Weapon and unattended parcel detection

▪         Behavioural, perception and incident detection

▪         Access control and more.

Michael says that reporting provides up-to-the-minute detail for analysis. This additional functionality can be adapted to any need. “Surveillance is a part of our lives, developed to offer global, law-abiding citizens the safety they deserve in any building or public space,” continues Michael. “Our airports across the world were rocked with 9/11, subways revealed as potential danger areas in London soon after, human trafficking remains a critical concern for families, border controls are fighting a continuous battle to curtail weapon trade and that is before we even venture into high consumer traffic areas like shopping malls, hospitals, educational and frail care centres and cities packed with skyscrapers competing for tallest-building status.”

What is significant is that with such a complex world, simple solutions are available without the need to over complicate an entire network structure or over compensate with more cameras supported by additional software functionality driven by hardware limitations. Open source capabilities allow for significant flexibility and simplicity in tailored solutions. The core focus should be steered through software application rather than hardware implementation.

Michael says, “Open source allows for integration of hardware, rather than the other way around. Only the most dated hardware will need to be replaced, but surveillance hardware developed recently can be integrated into software applications without, necessarily, the need to replace cameras.”

Globally the trends in surveillance indicate a move to reliable data interpretation with an integration of sophisticated software and technologically advanced hardware at the centre of solutions. JIST highlights some trends that are driving surveillance solutions:

  • Simplicity in application of software and hardware. The use of open source technology has gained momentum. It offers flexibility in application and being Linux-based, provides the necessary safety guarantees.
  • Quality. Picture and data quality is critical and developers continue to pay attention to superior delivery of these 2 elements. In terms of picture quality, it is not just the megapixel count that developers are after. Picture quality depends on more than just megapixels on the camera’s sensor. Lens quality and processing speeds play important roles. Engineers will continue to focus on all aspects to significantly improve quality, especially delivery of advanced low-light capabilities.
  • Data storage. As technology advances, so does the demand for storage space to cope with larger files from higher quality images. Increasingly storage devices are becoming more cost effective, but larger capabilities, initially, attract higher costs. This shifts the focus to decentralised solutions to better store local data without ignoring the need for centralised reporting methodologies. Customised storage takes into account the length of time an incident needs to be stored before it is extracted for off-site action.
  • Multi-server solutions. Decentralisation allows local data to be coordinated and stored on site providing a more streamlined solution across multi-faceted businesses reducing the need for costly and large server capacity.National business is able to centralise reporting while decentralising specific site demands and application variables.

Michael concludes, “Surveillance is a part of our every day lives. We need it, we want it and we simply cannot live without it. From a security point of view, it needs no discussion. Looking at the benefits of data interpretation, surveillance offers so much more in terms of analysis, data collection, competitive advantages and additional marketing and productivity applications.”

JIST can be contacted on 021 905 5903 or email or

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