NAVCO adapts CoVi's high-def

Manufacturer tweaks hardware for institutions' needs
Friday, September 1, 2006

ANAHEIM, Calif.--With a long history in the banking industry, NAVCO Security Systems has worked with everything from film in canisters to the latest digital technology, so industry members should take note when Jim Kauker, NAVCO's executive vice president of sales and marketing, says, "We can finally throw away digital-to-analog conversion."
Kauker is proselytizing for an industry-wide move to high-definition video, forsaking the NTSC and PAL video standards created in the analog world. "We're stuck with a video standard for commercial applications that was approved in 1940," he said. "The Radio Manufacturers Association came up with the standard in 1936. All the manufacturers have done a tremendous job getting a picture out of something conceived when cars didn't even have air conditioning ... We're building a picture on a screen, splitting the vertical resolution in half ... but, with digital, we get to throw all of that away."
Unfortunately, the high-def revolution has been held back by the need to convert those digital images into an analog format whether it's going through an analog CCD image sensor or winding up on a monitor requiring a NTSC or PAL conversion. Now, with high-def monitors and digital image processors, the digital information is carried in true form directly from capture to display.
Unfortunately, that digital information requires a great deal of memory storage, which has been expensive in the past. Compression tools like MPEG and JPEG have been created to make storage and transmission much more accessible, but that by definition compromises the quality of the image. NAVCO, working with banks, which need 90 days of video accessible at any time for the purpose, struggled to find a high-def solution that was affordable and workable.
"We picked CoVi because they are the only company we could find that could offer us a pure digital solution that could handle the amount of cameras we needed in a retail environment," said Kauker. "A lot of guys can do two or three cameras in a high-def environment, but what CoVi did was use a blade mentality, dedicating a hard-drive per camera, and each blade has its own 500 gig hard-drive that manages each camera ... it's basically an NVR per camera."
This has allowed NAVCO to capitalize on the promise of high-definition like never before, said Kauker. Instead of one eight cameras per bank branch, NAVCO now installs one. "A one megapixel high-def image is 16 times the picture quality of today's analog recorders," noted Kauker. "So what we're able to do is replace four cameras with one high-def camera ... We've essentially got documentation of everything in the bank with just one camera."
Now, he said, "we can do a little of that CSI: Miami stuff." Bank investigators are able to zoom in post-event and isolate images like never before.
None of this would have been possible, however, without modifications of the hardware by CoVi. "What we've done with NAVCO," said Cliff Cox, director of product management at CoVi, "is something that we've now formalized. They saw some value that we hadn't really seen, to leverage the HD as a cost-saving thing." Now, when integrators come to CoVi with an idea for how to use their Crystal HD system, "it's effectively a triage operation," said Cox. "We figure out how serious the opportunities are and then we rapidly respond."
"With [NAVCO], there was a tradeoff between quality and storage, so we modified the algorithms to find the best fit in terms of storage quality, bandwidth use, and storage needs to meet the right price point."