Goodbye PTZ, Hello 360 - Oncam: Experts in 360-degree and 180-degree Video Technology Solutions

The ultimate goal of end users in any market – from transportation and retail, to critical infrastructure and education – is to enhance situational awareness. With a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of their facility’s security status at any given time, operators are empowered to more effectively deter, detect, respond to, and investigate incidents and emergency situations.

Today, a growing number of surveillance customers are turning to 360-degree camera technology, rather than pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) devices, to enhance situational awareness. Of course, PTZ is still well-suited for certain uses, such as capturing high-definition facial images or license plate numbers. But PTZ solutions have several important disadvantages when compared to 360-degree devices, including:

  • Limited coverage. PTZ cameras have a narrow field-of-view, which creates multiple “blind spots” throughout the scene. If an operator is zoomed into one part of the scene, the camera has no visibility for the rest of the area and only video of the viewable area is stored.
  • Slower operation. Users experience a mechanical delay when operating PTZ cameras, which can be costly during an emergency.
  • Lengthy installation. When deploying a PTZ camera, the installer must carefully set the camera angle and lens position and precisely focus the lens to ensure the device is correctly targeted.
  • Moving parts. PTZ cameras have many moving parts, which make them subject to mechanical problems and shorter life spans.
  • Pricing. PTZ cameras are generally more expensive than fisheye cameras.

Because of these challenges, many end users now gravitate toward 360-degree “smart” video surveillance cameras, which provide several key benefits:

  • Full coverage. These devices provide a full 360-degree view of the scene. As a result, fewer cameras and infrastructure are required to monitor an area, which provides significant cost-savings, both at the time of installation and over the life of the system.
  • No blind spots. One fisheye lens allows for simultaneous tracking of targets or events; this means targets can’t be lost from view when moving in different directions.
  • Digital PTZ. Operators can digitally pan-tilt-zoom within a specific scene, both in real-time and retrospectively. This provides enhanced situational awareness precisely where it’s needed, without sacrificing video evidence of the rest of the scene. The cameras allow for multiple dewarped views of the scene, in addition to a single 360-degree overview fisheye image with independent PTZ analysis.
  • Quick, flexible installation. There is no need to set the camera angle and lens position or focus, which makes installation much faster and cheaper. In addition, these cameras are powered through PoE, so they do not require additional power supplies or extra power cables.
  • Minimized network bandwidth and storage. Since complete 360-degree fisheye views are streamed from the cameras, the amount of bandwidth and storage used is significantly lower compared to multiple narrow field-of-view cameras that would be needed to cover the same area.

The Best of Both

As 360-degree cameras become increasingly popular, some industry experts have realized that the best solution might be a combination of both fisheye and PTZ technology. Using a 360-degree camera and a PTZ camera in concert provides both a broad field-of-view, with digital PTZ capabilities, as well as a narrower view of points of interest. This system would be especially helpful in settings with a “choke point,” such as corrections and transportation security, where the fisheye camera watches the entire room and the PTZ offers a closer view of faces or license plates.

Learn more about Oncam’s 360-degree cameras.