Award-winning environmental monitoring company NetBotz has just enhanced its video surveillance software, with the result that users can access video surveillance material faster, and that those video images are now admissible in a court of law.

European MD Dave Watkins told Techworld, "With the previous version, we recorded everything that moved. Video surveillance makes for a lot of data, especially if it's not a lights-out operation. If you wanted to identify someone captured by the system, you needed to find right point in a video file by scrolling through it. Now, every frame is time-stamped."

This means users running the company's NetBotz Central unit, which centralises management of its monitoring systems, can move directly to a piece of video recorded during a specific time-slot, rather than having to browse through a large file.

"It was a big customer demand for us," said Watkins. "We've also added digital watermarking at the Botz [remote sensor] so that means you can use a picture as legal evidence, because to doctor the image would alter the watermark."

Future plans
Watkins also unveiled some of the five-year-old company's plans for the future. Around the middle of 2005, it expects to allow connectivity to its stored surveillance data from the enterprise network.

"This is a big step because everything has been very contained in the past," said Watkins. "It means customers can run backups and use their existing storage resources. This was also a feature asked for by lots of customers."

Watkins also talked about plans further into the future. "We will be using ZigBee as the open standard for attaching to sensors," he said. "This will allow them to connect and talk to each other. The large control industry companies such as Honeywell and APC are also going down that route.

"There are obvious advantages from wireless installation. It's common for customers to want to surface mount temperature sensors on the ceiling. Right now, they might have to string a cable above the ceiling from the sensor to the wall, down to the floor and up into the cabinet. It's a lot of cabling effort, which costs, and it's high maintenance. With ZigBee, no cables are needed.

"It will be great for customers who want to retrofit into existing systems, making it cheap and easy. It's going to be early 2006 for product delivery."

Last June, NetBotz won Network Technology of the Year at Techworld's Network Awards 2004.