A Powerful Security Camera Delivers Non-Security Benefits
Mount Pleasant Radio typically serves a very different clientele. The company specializes in designing and installing electronic systems that monitor and control data within water, waste and power plants, provide point-to-point wireless communications and enhance security. “We do a lot of industrial video for both security and process monitoring, and we partner with Vicon because we want a single solution platform. Vicon has been supportive of us and gives us a lot of options,” says Wray.
The Coastal Conservation League contacted Mount Pleasant Radio through a referral by the Charleston Pilot Office for Harbor Pilots. The camera they had in place to observe the pelicans wasn’t working, and folks at the Pilot Office said they were pleased with the security cameras Wray had installed at their facility. “When I got the call asking if we could fix the camera, I said ‘of course we can.’”
Upon joining the project in early 2016, Wray replaced an inoperable PTZ camera mounted on a pole on the site with two fixed cameras facing in opposite directions. Powered by a solar panel during the day and by battery at night, video from the cameras was transmitted via a 5 Gigabyte microwave link to the Pilot Office.
Andy Hollis, Data and GIS Analyst for the Coastal Conservation League, posted live video from the cameras on YouTube, linking to the video stream from within the Coastal Conservation League’s website. Gradually, the Pelicam transformed from research tool to community attraction.
The Vicon Cruiser PTZ camera is really Responsive and the quality of the focus and zoom is excellent. It pans and zooms exactly as is should and its high magnification gets us in really close.
Andy Hollis, Data and GIS Analyst, Charleston Coastal Conservation League
Pelicans weren’t the only draw. So were natural disasters. When hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017 occurred, coastal Charleston was evacuated. During those events, the site had about 2000 visitors at any given time looking at the cameras to see what was happening in the harbor. Sadly, the Pelicam, along with the Crab Creek sand bank, did not survive Irma. Much of the sand was washed away and a derelict boat crashed into the camera pole, knocking over and disabling the Pelicam.
Since then, Wray has volunteered countless hours to work with the Coastal Conservation League and the DNR to install a replacement solution.
The new Pelicam features a Vicon Cruiser PTZ camera, model SN673V-B, with 20X optical zoom and high definition 1080P resolution. “The quality of the new camera is great,” says Andy. “The motion is really responsive and the quality of the focus and zoom is excellent. We had tried a PTZ camera on the original Pelicam, before we started working with Wray, and it was so frustrating. It wouldn’t respond to our commands. But the Vicon camera pans and zooms exactly as it should and its high magnification gets us in really close.”
Andy has the camera set up with six presets, and he changes the direction of the camera regularly to focus on the area of Shutes Folly where the most interesting wildlife is on display. The camera also supports auto tours, a capability he plans to take advantage of very soon. “It will be convenient to have the camera automatically rotate and provide changing scenes for our viewers.”
``I was surprised by how little current the Vicon Cruiser camera pulls, even when panning, tilting and zoomin. I've tried running other PTZs off solar power, and they are fine during the day but eat up all the battery at night and stop working. The Vicon camera is really power efficient.````
Wray Lemke, Founder and Vice President, Mount Pleasant Radio
Because of the high speed wireless link Wray has installed on the mounting pole at Shutes Folly, there is no latency transmitting the camera’s 1080P video back to the Pilot’s Office at a full 30 fps frame rate. This video is streamed live over YouTube. The camera also has a local SD card that records the video at 10 fps. That video is available to biologist studying the pelican’s behavior.
“When the last Pelicam was up, we had a level of community engagement unlike anything else we’ve ever done. It’s the reason why management at the Conservation League was willing to have us spend a bunch of time and resources to get a new camera back up,” says Andy. “As an advocacy organization working with local and state level governments to enact programs and laws to support conservation, the Pelicam is one of the most highly effective tools we have for building public awareness and enthusiasm for our mission.”
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