10th Anniversary of the IOR webcam

18th May 2011. is 10th anniversary of  Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries network camera. Here’s a brief overview of major events in those 10 years.

Setting the camera
In the year 2001 Institute was connected to the Internet with the copper pair with speed of a 2 Mbit / s. The local network has been realized with BNC coaxial cables, with lots of small HUB’s for connecting computers in different rooms. The surveillance cameras market was dominated by analog cameras and development of network cameras was just at beginning. Since Institute already has in operation meteorological-oceanographic station, the idea was to complete the picture about the weather and eventually gain the possibility of further image analysis (waves, wind). At that time Network cameras typically have a refresh period of 5-10 minutes. The IOR webcam since the beginning has a refresh period of one second. It was fears that the network, server or camera will not withstand such intense traffic, but proved to be possible. The two components have proved to be particularly reliable: the very AXIS Camera, which is in the mode of sending FTP images every second and The Institute’s Debian Linux server that has accepted the images and published them on the web site. Also from the beginning we started with a maximum resolution of the camera 704 * 576 pixels, which at the time was (and still is) high-resolution image for web cameras.

Java applet
From the beginning it was clear that without a good support for viewing images webcam itself don’t have some value. Therefore, immediately after placing the camera, we developed Java Applet for viewing “animated” webcam image. Existing meteorological-oceanographic station measure every 10 minutes and we extend station software (from in house development) for managing webcam image. In order to avoid server disc consumption, every second camera on the server always sends a picture of the same name, where newer files “run over” the old. In order to preserve an image it is necessary to periodically change the name of the current image. It has been decided and realized that the images are stored every 10 minutes a week long, while 8 images a day (every 3 hours) are kept permanently. For the purpose of viewing these images we developed additional Java applets, “Animation (quick daily review)” and “Pictures archive (daily basis)”. In addition to animation, Java applet displayed the temperature of air and sea, from meteorological-oceanographic station. So with one view of the IOR webcam you could get a pretty good impression of the weather conditions (wind, rain, clouds and waves are visible in the picture, written with the air temperature and sea).

First camera position
The camera was initially placed on a desk in a room on the second floor of the Institute on a small table bracket. As the camera was not fixed to the table, often happen that the camera frame “walks” a little bit left or right. Also during the night were in the picture above Kozjak (mountain on the right side) appeared two mysterious yellow lights, which were a reflection of the control light from device in room, which often worked at night. In a couple of occasions lights was stay on in the room during the night and at the webcam you can see the reflection of the whole room.


The unexpected public interest
After initial setup, webcam has achieved the public’s interest above our expectations. In order to use the said local area network with a HUB-om the end of the road have been known to happen to the HUB (a simple little network device that copies the network traffic with a BNC coax connector on all UTP ports, and vice versa) stuck. Then we would quickly received warnings from around the world that the camera does not work, for which we thank everyone who sent such a warning. Except for these warnings interest in webcam can be seen by the number of access to the Institute’s website, which is immediately after setting the camera has increased 15 times, with a tendency of further growth.


Premještaj kamere
Public interest, as well as problems with the camera placed on a table, encouraged us to purchase and installation of casing for the camera. 17th July 2003 camera is mounted in an outdoor casing, to a lodge on the second floor of the institute. This has solved the problems of the movement of cameras and a night reflections, but it is difficult for cleaning camera, because for the detailed cleaning climb to the outer fence to the second floor balcony is needed. Also is pulled direct cable to the main switch of the Institute, make a HUB jam problems solved.


Problems with the meteorological-oceanographic station
20th June 2006. , around 6:40 in the morning, somewhere in the Bay of Kastela, lightning accrued, a result which was burnout of meteorological oceanographic stations of the Institute. This was one of many such incidents, after which there was no spare parts (sensors and control electronics) for station. Because of that was decided to abandon its former station instrumentation and move into the development of new station, based on other sensors and electronics. Indirect consequence of this was the termination of the program, which among other things “renamed” images from the camera. As the webcam is not main activity of the Institute, to develop a new webcam dedicated program, it took almost four years. During this period, live animated webcam images was available, but pictures archive was not available.

The new network connection and new Institutes local area network (LAN)
Internet connection speed of the Institute in March 2007 increased to 100 Mbit / s using a fiber optic cable. In parallel with increasing speed, work on the reconstruction of the local area network began, as well reconstruction of server room to accommodate servers and networking equipment. These works were finished 16th August 2007.



Problems with Java applet
There was very small number of webcam jams due to camera itself. In the April 2007 camera users start to complain that live pictures animation not works. It soon turned out that with new version of the Java Runtime Environment is impossible to upload images of the same name in the series. Since that Java applet loads array of pictures with same name, and showing pictures animation. Java developers have concluded that there is no point in loading the “same” image many times, and after loading the first image, the other is simply not retrieve. To make the problem bigger, there was not possibility to explicitly specify that you wants to load a new image of the same name. This is an excellent example of how new versions are not always better, and how can be dangerous “guess” what the user wants, without being able to specify exact needs. For solving this problem we developed a special program, which changed names of files with the addition of numbers from 1 to 1000, and especially leave information of the number of the current image. Java applet is modified to periodically load images from current to image with number 1000, and after that image number 1, and so on.



New Institutes web pages
In June 2009 the Institute has moved from static web pages to a new CMS (Content Management System). The new site, initially only incorporated the old section of the network camera. Shortly after that, a new way of displaying the animation using JavaScript is developed. After that for viewing webcam animations was no longer needed to use and install Java applets. Additionally we developed a special program to save images from the camera, independent from stations and other systems. Eventually we developed and added JavaScripts for “Animation (quick daily review)” and “Pictures archive (daily basis)”.


Departure of the research vessel  “Bios”
Since setting up the webcam, users could follow the comings and goings of a research vessel “Bios”, which was, when there would be on research cruises or overhaul, moored in the port in front of the Institute and can be seen in the pictures from webcam. In the year 2009 construction of a new ship “Bios dva” was completed. At the beginning of 2010 the old Bios was sold and since then it was no longer seen with webcam. As the new ship is longer than the old one, it does not fit in the port of the Institute. Since that, unfortunately, webcam users can no longer follow the departures and arrivals of Institutes research vessel.



After 10 years…

Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries is a scientific institution which is engaged in marine research. Network camera was a side activity, conceived as a possible extension of meteorological oceanographic station. Over time, the camera has contributed more inters for the Institutes website, and its other facilities. We promise our efforts in maintaining existing service levels (all software is in-house development), and if that was possible some extension. We hope that IOR webcam users will still support as. Satisfied users (some of them personally visit our Institute) justified ours efforts and hard work, and give us the obligation of continuing to provide quality services. We appreciate and obtained e-mails with various expressions of support and suggestions. In these 10 years in front of the camera is maintain even a art performance, whose images are stored and waiting for a special publication. Finally, if you have stored some unusual, or beautiful, or pictures where you are personally, taken with the IOR webcam, I invite you to send them to the address damir.ivankovic @ izor.hr, and we will publish them in a separate part of this “celebrating” web pages.


Institute staff

Finally we should mention the staff of the Institute who have contributed to setting up, operation and development of network camera.
Since setting up the camera (and before) until now:

  • Vlado Dadić
    oceanographic instrumentation and electronics, development of meteorological oceanographic stations, support in obtaining and setting up network camera
  • Damir Ivanković
    software support for the station and network camera, development of Java applet and additional programs for the camera, the webpages to view pictures from the cameraWebcam contribution on the new CMS (from 2009)


  • Josip Bašić
    webcam JavaScript development
  • Siniša Marasović
    JavaScript development, additional program for storing pictures 
  • Damir Ivanković
    Database manager and head of data center
    Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Split
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