What makes SiraView CCTV viewer different from screen capture products?

CCTV screen capture

We believe that all police forces should have the opportunity to view CCTV images using SiraView’s universal CCTV viewer. But what makes our product worth the investment? In this article, we compare SiraView with screen capture products and look at how our universal CCTV viewer results in greater efficiency, reduced delays, and ultimately a better use of police time and resources.

What's the problem with standard CCTV screen capture software?

Screen capture, when used for CCTV, is the process of essentially copying CCTV video clips from a computer screen and saving them as video files. This might be done in order to create selected clips for use as evidence, or to share amongst other law-enforcement colleagues during an investigation. The initial problem in using such tools however is the very same problem that prompted Sira to create a universal player in the first place. Every CCTV format requires the individual manufacturer’s player to view the footage, and there are thousands of players. Without this proprietary player, it’s not possible to view the footage at all.

But let’s say the player has been safely downloaded and is present. Screen capture can only proceed at the normal, real-time playback rate, meaning exporting an hour of footage will take an hour. The process will synchronise with the monitor’s video refresh rate, typically 50 or 60 times per second, regardless of the frame-rate of the source material, which may be as low as 10 frames per second (fps). This can lead to the creation of very large data files, typically only in raw, uncompressed formats, which in turn can cause problems with sharing and access.

The true cost of cutting corners

Though screen capture can certainly appear to be a cheap option short-term, it brings with it a complex set of problems that make its use considerably less cost- and resource-efficient than a universal player. Ensuring that the screen capture system maintains the quality and integrity of the video is a skilled technical exercise, not something that can be delegated to untrained staff. The software will need reconfiguration for every different proprietary DVR. The operative will need to correct the aspect ratio, scale the image, ensure the correct colour transformation: and then there’s the matter of the audio. Because screen capture doesn’t support audio, any sound your CCTV may contain will need to be manually resynchronised later in the workflow by an experienced technician. The same goes for the crucially important metadata associated with your footage – date, time, camera etc. Because screen capture is designed for civilian use without consideration of law-enforcement requirements, there is no capability to retain that information, leading to yet another reintegration job for a skilled expert later on. Similarly, screen capture will only work for one camera at a time, so if you’re using source material from multiple units, your operative may well be in for a lot of overtime.

SiraView - the elegant CCTV solution for law-enforcement

The good news is that while correctly using screen capture is a lengthy and complex process, the alternative is much simpler. Designed to be quickly and easily deployed across police forces and other law-enforcement organisations, SiraView automatically decodes thousands of CCTV formats and handles all the configuration for you. With minimal set-up and training, new users can access, analyse and export huge quantities of footage. With no additional hardware required, our intuitive interface offers precise control and frame-stepping; thumbnail views; full-image playback without cropping; automatic aspect ratio detection; dropout-free playback; and clear, consistently-presented metadata. Those staff with technical expertise are able concentrate on the more skilled tasks, while users at any stage from initial investigation to the courtroom can view and present CCTV to colleagues professionally, without the need to continually switch between players. While SiraView allows you to see the footage in its original format, it offers a wide choice of compressed export format options. This means that export takes a fraction of the time, and involves the writing and compression of only the frames required. SiraView also fully supports audio and metadata, whatever the format.

Our product allows users to access and share CCTV of multiple formats and from any source via a single viewer, offering rapid, straightforward access to evidence. Because it is so easy to use, police video specialists can be released to concentrate on more technically challenging work. Police use of CCTV evidence thereby can become more common, more effective, and delays will be reduced in both the investigation and the solution of crime. Ultimately, Sira believes this will enable better use of police resources and reduce the number of unsolved crimes.