The View from on High: The Benefits of Integrated Video Management

April 04, 2014

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Airborne video surveillance is all about keeping an eye on the screen. That's why the most effective video management systems (VMS) for airborne law enforcement platforms let crew members control all their video options, including sensor inputs, screen configuration, underlay maps and video recording, directly from their touchscreen display. When the display serves as the VMS control center, complete control of the surveillance video comes at the touch of a button.

The VMS Integration Headache
Today's advanced VMS solutions are built from a variety of video switches, displays, mission computers and recorder offerings. When these components are sourced from multiple vendors, the VMS integration process can quickly become complex. That's thatnks to a "rat's nest" of heavy cabing and the range of video and computer interface types used by the various video components, all of which need to be tied together to make the VMS work.

Integrating a VMS from individual components requires coping with multiple interface types and command sets. Setting up the video recorder for remote control operation, for example, might involve connecting an RS-422 interface to the mission computer, then adding extra software to the command and control application. To provide touchscreen control, you'd also need to decode touchscreen events on the mission computer so they can be translated into commands the video recorder can understand.

There's a Better Way
A better approach, one that maximizes operator usability and system flexibility while ensuring optimal interoperability, is provided by a fully integrated VMS. Even better, an integrated VMS offers the headroom for expansion needed to support future technology upgrades without locking you into a one-off solution. For over 20 years, Curtiss-Wright VMS solutions have delivered the most reliable, flexible and fully featured video management systems to airborne law enforcement agencies across the UK and Europe. The company's VMS products are the standard airborne surveillance solution selected by numerous leading police agencies, including the City of Lond and Turkish National Fleet. Now, as part of Curtiss-Wright, Skyquest quality and performance is available in the US, with services and support available out of Dayton, OH.

Working with Curtiss-Wright is like having multiple video component suppliers in one. Designed and built in-house, the company's VMS provides a ready-to-go experience right out of the box. But Curtiss-Wright doesn't take a "one size fits all" approach. With the widest range of video switches, video recorders and rugged-built HD LCD touchscreen displays (from 7 to 21 inches, with support for night viewing), the company works closely with each police agency to tailor the exact solution needed. The result is flexibility and interoperability that would either be unobtainable or would take a lot of blood, sweat and tears to achieve using components from multiple vendors.

And because Curtiss-Wright builds flexiblity in at the start, total cost of ownership is significantly lowered when you need to add or upgrade functionality to your VMS. The company's technology roadmaps let you plan your upgrade path, eliminating obsolescence and the hidden costs of one-off designs. Curtiss-Wright also offers on-site integration support to make sure your installation goes off without a hitch.

Unmatched Control, Unmatached Ease-of-Use
Curtiss-Wright's law enforcement VMS solutions are renowned for being built tough - they perform optimally while taking a beating. That's because they share military DNA derived from the higher-end systems the company builds for its rugged deployed aerospace and defense customers. Curtiss-Wright's decades of experience as a manufacturer or military systems hardware ensures VMS products are built rugged from teh ground up, from the metalwork, to the rugged glass HD LCD screens, to the sealing gaskets, conduction cooled circuit boards and high-grade military-style connectors.

For the crew, though, the real difference is the awesome power of flexibility. Curtiss-Wright's VMS lets each operator access all cameras and sensors and combine them on-screen in the exact way they need to get the job done. Any seat in the aircraft can be the commander. With the touch of a button, users can set up their screens for two-up or four-up composite viewing of the external world, letting them keep a constant eye on the video feeds and maps they need most. The touchscreen also controls recording and moving maps, so attention can remain on the screen at all times.

Curtiss-Wright VMS displays typically support up to at least eight separate video inputs, with support for up to 18. Support for multiple-display compositing, Ethernet connectivity, touchscreen control and dual-LED types for daylight and night vision is standard, and the high capacity video recorders capture up to 20 hours of dual-channel HD video on SD memory cards.

A VMS Example
The Curtiss-Wright VMS represents a mission system upgrade for a national police force. It includes video switching, format conversion and multi-channel recording functionality. The components in this system are all new-generation products, inlucing the VRD1 video switch, AVDU4300 and AVDU3600 17-inch and 14-inch rugged displays, and the VRDV7000 video recorder. The VRD1 can accept multiple video input formats and resolutions, including HD-SDI high-definition video and CVBS composite video from the aircraft's camera turret and VGA input from the mission computer.

The VRD1 can convert the resolution of the video feeds as required for display on any of the connected displays, while also being able to generate composited (quad/picture-in-picture) video as desired to each of the displays, independetnly selecteable under operator control. This VMS's multiple VRDV7000 recorders, each able to support dual HD-SDI inputs, have been configured at the customer's request to record a single video stream at high quality for evidential purposes. If desired, the VRD1 can provide a backup recording provision using its own video compression and storage capability. It can also stream live compressed video onboard the platform to electronic flight bags. The operation of the system is controlled by on-screen soft keys provided by the embedded processor and graphics engine built into each of the displays.

Read the article on Airbeat Magazine (download a PDF)

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