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A wireless video surveillance system consists of three major components: 1) the video capture and preprocessing; 2) the video compression and transmission in wireless sensor networks; and 3) the video analysis at the receiving end. A myriad of research works have been dedicated to this field due to its increasing popularity in surveillance applications. This survey provides a comprehensive overview of existing state-of-the-art technologies developed for wireless video surveillance, based on the in-depth analysis of the requirements and challenges in current systems. Specifically, the physical network infrastructure for video transmission over wireless channel is analyzed. The representative technologies for video capture and preliminary vision tasks are summarized. For video compression and transmission over the wireless networks, the ultimate goal is to maximize the received video quality under the resource limitation. This is also the main focus of this survey. We classify different schemes into categories including unequal error protection, error resilience, scalable video coding, distributed video coding, and cross-layer control. Cross-layer control proves to be a desirable measure for system-level optimal resource allocation. At the receiver's end, the received video is further processed for higher-level vision tasks, and the security and privacy issues in surveillance applications are also discussed.