Monitoring Corps Projects With Web Cameras (Ice Engineering. Number 35, September 2002)
COLD REGIONS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING LAB HANOVER NH
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Many Corps projects need monitoring and inspection at regular intervals, if not continuously, to track progress, to assess evolving conditions, or to anticipate undesirable events. Examples of possible uses include observation of riverbank erosion, construction sites, demonstration sites, and machine operation, as well as hydro-meteorological documentation of field sites, monitoring of endangered species, and especially now increased security. Physical monitoring can drain personnel and equipment resources, especially if the site is remote, and important events may be missed because of unfortunate timing. Photographs documenting site conditions are often requested by more than one person or agency. In some instances, a remote camera image may be preferred over a personal site visit, e.g., when monitoring endangered species. The Internet provides a convenient way to access images from Web cameras. The basic setup for a Web camera is a digital camera and telephone modem or cell phone, positioned to obtain images of the site being monitored Fig. 1. Many commercial sources offer off-the-shelf cameras of many sizes and lens configurations, with transmission and retrieval options. Cameras can be color, black and white, low light, or infrared. With proper site connections and equipment, pan-tilt-zoom cameras can be programmed to automatically or manually acquire wideangle overview images, pan in different directions, and zoom in for detailed images. Web camera images can be stored on a hard disk in an on-site computer for later retrieval, a convenient option for remote sites.