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Sun Up or Down, Hikvision Protects France's Prisons

La prison de Lille-Annoeullin – a new prison in the northern town of Lens, France – opened in July 2011. Utilizing one centralized main-control room and a series of thirteen secondary control rooms, La prison de Lille-Annoeullin is on the forefront of video surveillance solutions in France.

Samir Rekik, R&D Engineer at Aris Technologies Company (video solution designer and integrator for this project) explained the initial, and overall, goal of this solution was to "convince customers that a new open solution based on Hikvision equipment provides both a robust, and economically superior, model to older versions … and all with a setup that does not require any special technical knowledge in its day-to-day operations."

Hikvision's Day and Night Eyes

Hikvision products chosen for this project include analog box cameras, analog vandal proof dome cameras, standalone DVRs and video servers.

Immediately, installation of the outdoor analog box camera and the indoor Vandal Proof dome camera provided a noticeable security upgrade. Previously, where inmates were able to utilize natural elements – such as changing lighting conditions … or even the cover of night … to engage in suspicious behavior – this was no longer possible. Mr. Rekik explained: "the two models were such an upgrade that security operators actually had as good nighttime contrast and sharpness as they did in the day."

Both cameras utilize a variety of functions, such as a Day / Night auto switch, a 1/3” SONY CCD, auto white balance, auto gain control, electronic shutter control, and backlight compensation to achieve this result. Additionally, due to their differing aims, the Hikvision box camera sports an auto iris with DC / video driver function and 540 TVL resolution; where the Vandal Proof dome camera comes equipped with a compact design for unobtrusive indoor placement, vandal proofing to deter inmate tampering, and a low illumination functionality of 0.1Lux @ F1.2.

As Mr. Rekik summed up, this Hikvision technology resulted in a sharp reversal of the prisoners' prior experience: "Earlier prisoners had a greater degree of autonomy once the sun went down, but now security personnel had the advantage. In fact, inmates quickly learned that even though they assumed they were unobservable – the truth was very different. Hikvision cameras allow security to view them just as easily at midnight, as they do at noon."

Building a Stronger Solution

Where the above-mentioned Hikvision cameras offered a performance upgrade, Hikvision’s 16-ch Standalone DVR, single channel video server, and single channel video decoder provided an equally important element: system stability.

Mr. Rekik explained that "since this is a prison, it was vital that any issues of instability be reduced to a bare minimum." Additionally, interface response times needed to be extremely fast (< 300 ms), as a great deal of information is being processed each second. To ensure the durability of this solution, Aris Technologies performed an extensive testing procedure involving both Hikvision and other leading manufacturers' products to gather comparative data. “After we had tested a number of leading brands, we found there were no system crashes, or memory leak, associated with Hikvision … our choice was simple."

In this solution, both Hikvision video servers and video decoders are used. Additionally, Hikvision 16-ch Standalone DVRs are also utilized to directly record camera footage before it passes through to the video servers and, ultimately, the network. Thus recording is completely independent from the network. Furthermore, the standalone DVRs are also used as an additional means to deliver H.264 IP video streams; and can be used as backup in case of any video server failure – allowing built-in redundancy, data protection, and additional system stability. As Mr. Rekik pointed out, "The result is a secure recording solution that is independent of specific network performance."

La prison de Lille-Annoeullin utilizes these Hikvision components over a ring multicast local area network and a distributed optical fiber system that adds resiliency to the network. This infrastructure is able to take advantage of Hikvision technological features such as H.264 video compression, up to 4CIF real time recording, each channel supporting dual stream, up to 16-ch synchronous playback, and up to 8 SATA HDD at 2TB each in its standalone DVR model; while both Hikvision video servers and decoders provide high performance DSP hardware compensation, up to 4 CIF real time compression and decoding and support variable bit rate and frame rate. In particular, the video server supports TCP, UTP, RTP, Multicast, DHCP, PPPoE, and HTTP; while the video decoder supports up to 4-screen circle decoding, with a configurable sequence group feature.

For the moment all the devices are connected thorough the ring LAN to allow full multicast video streams from any camera to any monitor inside the prison. The system is getting continuously bigger by adding easily cameras, DVR, video servers, decoder and monitors. With Hikvision IP technology scalability is a nature future.

Through Hikvision technological innovation, Aris Technologies has reached a new level of excellence within the French security industry. Additionally, through the use of these five Hikvision components, and one software program VIRIX (virtual matrix) developed by Aris Technologies, this solution offers operational simplicity and the low maintenance requirement that ensure the required long-lasting stability in a solution of this nature.