Best practices: Management of
video surveillance
Billy Short
Video surveillance is becoming more and
more prevalent in today's enterprise
environments. Business factors that include
security, accountability and monitoring
needs drive the implementation of video
surveillance systems. Video surveillance
systems help keep company assets safe,
monitors organizational processes and
ensures accountability throughout the entire
facility. Because many video surveillance
systems today are primarily network (IP)
based, Information technology management
teams must ensure that local area network
infrastructures will be able to support the
ever growing need of resources that video
surveillance devices require. The purpose
of this writing is to discuss and survey the
best practices of managing and
implementing video surveillance streaming
and devices within a local area network.
Security is one of the most common aspects
of any commercial or consumer application.
One of the best practices that businesses
utilize is the implementation of security and
video surveillance[1]. Video surveillance is
one of the biggest precautions that a
business can take in order to keep assets
protected, ensure company processes are
being correctly used and monitor
customers, employees and vital facility
components without having the need of
having to be there physically. In recent
years, more and more companies are
turning to network-based video surveillance.
As an information technology professional,
one must ensure that current network
infrastructures are able to support the
addition of numerous network cameras
streaming to various endpoints. Some of
these endpoints may include network video
recorders, mobile devices, workstations and
other storage devices. These are all
dependent on current and possible future
needs of the business.
As more and more network devices are
added to an infrastructure, information
technology professionals must make
necessary adjustments to accommodate
these network devices. In regards to video
surveillance, many different protocols must
be taken into account in order to stream
video across the network. While
implementing video surveillance devices,
network management must decide whether
it is best for their organization to utilize User
Datagram Protocol (UDP) [2][3] or
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)[4].
Unicast or multicast streaming are choices
in which IT administrators must decide that
best suits the desired needs of the
company's network infrastructure. At this
point, a network professional must
determine whether it is best to use unicast
[6] or multicast [7] video transmission for
network cameras within the local area
network. At the next level, protocols such
as Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) and
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) create
the ability to stream video across networks.
Video may possibly use File Transfer
Protocol (FTP) or Trivial File Transfer
Protocol (TFTP) to transmit this streamed
data to centralized server locations in order
to access, view and manage at a later date
[8]. The implementation of surveillance
cameras and the protocols in which video is
moved from source to destination is a
lengthy process. A network professional
must make decisions and changes in order
to implement surveillance cameras. In
regards to the local area network,
surveillance cameras affect other devices
and network utilization. There are
advantages, disadvantages, differences and
requirements of using unicast routing and
multicast routing. This paper weighs the
options of these differences to ensure
effective and efficient video delivery from
source to destination.
The purpose of this writing is to inform
network professionals the best practices of
implementing video surveillance devices
within a network. This includes tamper
resistant devices, alarm input/outputs,
Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN)
implementation, standard device
configuration and firewall port configuration.
Video surveillance and video streaming
command a large amount of bandwidth
within a local area network will also be
discussed. With more and more devices
being added to a network, information
technology management must make the
necessary adjustments in order to ensure
networks are stable and can handle the
additional bandwidth requirements of these
additional network devices [9]. Some
network professionals have declared that
choosing the correct type of streaming
protocol can actually save a company [10].
More information and studies will be
detailed in a later section of this writing.
Not only will this writing focus on fixed
camera streaming assets to set storage and
network video recorders, but also streaming
over a network to mobile devices has
become a much more common practice[11].
Also noted will be the changing needs of
network and streaming protocols differing
from a fixed environment to a more mobile
environment A published journal states that
mobility may actually lower the distinction
between unicast and multicast streaming in
video surveillance [2].
This paper will present a glimpse for the use
of multicast and unicast when implementing
video surveillance [12]. Best practices
when implementing these network devices
will be discussed in detail, as well as the
advantages and disadvantage of each in
various situations within a network.
IP Cameras - Physical
Surveillance devices, such as network
cameras, are used my many organizations
to monitor and protect company assets.
Unlike older traditional analog cameras,
Network cameras utilize Internet Protocol
(IP), which transmits data over networks
using various protocols, all of which are
UDP and/or TCP. Although these devices
are used for security purposes, the devices
themselves must be secure as well. Many
network cameras are equipped with unique
vandal-resistant and tamper-resistant
mechanisms to prevent damage and
physical loss of devices. Network cameras
are powered by power-over-ethernet (PoE),
which utilizes pins within the cat6 network
cable to supply power to electronic devices,
in this case, network cameras. Because
these devices are powered via PoE, camera
positions can be installed anywhere within
100 meters of a PoE enabled switch,
making installations of network cameras
possible in virtually any location required.
Figure 1-2
IP Cameras - Software
IP cameras typically run a Linux kernel
based operating system within the camera.
This is the central brains of the device. All
software configurations may be
administered from the designated web
page. This web page may be accessed
from the IP address that is assigned to this
camera, which can be assigned via DHCP
or it can be assigned statically.
Figure 1-1
Axis is one of the leading brands of
enterprise-level network cameras. In Figure
1-1, TCP/IP settings are shown for the Axis
M2026-LE network camera. Various
settings may be adjusted here by accessing
the web interface. Some of the protocols
shown in Figure 1-1 will be discussed in a
later section.
Firmware updates are vital in ensuring
network devices connected to a local area
network are secure. Firmware updates
must be applied, typically following
maintenance schedules in place by security
policies of an organization. Once updates
are released from the manufacturer, they
may be applied directly to the device, as
shown in Figure 1-2. Firmware updates
may include various security patches and
updates, vulnerability notices, and last but
not least, more features that are available or
innovated for the device. Just like any other
device within a network, it is very important
to keep firmware updated in order to keep
networks as safe and secure as possible.
Lastly, general setup must include storage
devices, password setups or web logins,
and user accounts for streaming video.
Cameras can be configured on a per user
basis. Certain users may have the ability to
view different parts and settings of the
network camera based on its security rights
and privileges.
Problem Statement
Figure 1-3
Figure 1-3 shows the user "BillyShort" being
added as an administrator to the network
camera device. This allows that user to
adjust all settings and other advanced
settings that is on the camera. Most users
typically only need operator or viewer rights
because settings can only be adjusted by
administrator users, which should not need
to be adjusted once they are set.
Passwords are encrypted within the network
camera using an advanced algorithm. After
passwords are created, storage devices
must be configured in order to receive data
from cameras across the network. Network
Video Recorders (NVR's) are storage
devices that have a local interface. These
devices are able to record large amounts of
data and provide an easy to use interface
for users to play back video and other
information that the cameras may have.
Storage is a huge must because it allows
organizations to have the ability to review
video instead of a more traditional approach
of having security guards manning video
camera stations at all times. Because
devices such as NVR's receive transmitted
data from network cameras on the LAN, it is
important that cameras are configured to
optimally perform.
As discussed in an earlier section, more and
more devices are connecting to local area
networks. This requires information
technology teams and network
administrators make changes to network
infrastructure to keep up with the new
demands of these network devices. In
order to keep up with this demand, IT teams
must decide on multiple aspects of the
implementation of surveillance systems and
network camera devices. Based on the
information in this writing, IT teams will be
able to choose what standards are best in
regards to surveillance systems for their
network needs from demands within their
Protocol Selection
The proposal in this writing will compare
various video streaming protocols. These
protocols will focus on UDP and TCP
protocols, including multicast video
streaming and TCP video streaming.
Advantages and disadvantages will be
compared in regards to both UDP and TCP,
and how unicast and multicast should be
used in certain situations, as well as why
unicast should still be implemented.
Video Streaming - UDP and TCP
Network devices are growing at an
exponential rate on local area networks.
Information technology management teams
must realize Internet of Things (IoT) devices
are becoming more and more prevalent in
today's networks. Because of the massive
growth in the utilization of these devices,
networks must be able to accommodate
these devices with appropriate speeds and
bandwidth needed. Network cameras and
Unicast was the initial form of data
transmission in earlier local area networks,
but most networks have migrated to
multicast. TCP only supports unicast video
streaming due to the acknowledgement
requirement. TCP can only send from point
A to point B because it cannot transmit data
from one source to multiple destinations due
to replies required.
network surveillance devices transmit and
stream video from one location to another,
and in some cases, multiple destinations.
Because of this, there is a high demand of
bandwidth to transmit this high definition
video across networks. All video is
transmitted via User Datagram Protocol
(UDP) or Transmission Control Protocol
(TCP). TCP streaming is connectionoriented streaming. TCP uses
acknowledgements in order to transmit data
from source to destination, meaning that
one bit is transferred, the source receives
an acknowledgement from the destination
confirming the bit made it to destination.
Once the destination reply has made it back
to the source, more bits will be sent. UDP
does not use acknowledgements. This
protocol essentially floods the destination
with the bits almost in real time because it
does not require replies from the
destination. High Definition video can be a
large amount of bits per second, so UDP is
the preferred means of streaming live video.
UDP is much more efficient and overall
faster in comparison to TCP. UDP is not
only preferred in video streaming, but it is
also preferred in other time sensitive
applications such as VoIP applications and
other sources of live video or streaming
services such as Netflix and Hulu. Instead
of awaiting replies from a bad bit sent from
source to destination, UDP continues to
send packets, providing an uninterrupted
video stream.
Unlike unicast streaming, multicast
streaming may allow source video streams
to be sent to multiple destinations. For
example, source A may send to destination
B and C, while unicast would have only
been able to send to destination B OR C.
When many clients want to stream a live
video from a single network, multicast
should be employed or adopted. Multicast
videos employ UDP at the transport layer.
Encoded multicast videos have cameras
that transmit only one part of the video into
the network and this allows the client to get
a video copy. Every client is required to be
connected to the source camera in order to
utilize Session Description Protocol (SDP)
file. This allows any connected clients to
get information required to have the video
on the internet and to begin rendering and
decoding. With the acquisition of the
multicast video, CohuHD cameras listen to
Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), and
hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) as a way
of making connections that are initial to SDP
files (CohuHD, 2013).
Unicast and Multicast streaming
Advantages of Multicast
Unicast video can be described as
information, in this case, video streaming, is
sent from point A to point B. The source of
video streaming can only send that data and
video to one destination, which means there
is only one sender and one receiver.
As stated in a previous section, UDP is the
preferred method of live video transmission.
When sending and transmitting video
streams to other network devices such as
network video recorders, UDP is used in the
majority of networks today. Older networks
may have used unicast video streaming, but
once more and more network devices are
connected to the local area network, the
migration to multicast is critical for proper
network performance and function. Many
larger companies send video streams to
many different destinations, such as one to
a NVR, and another to a security station
within an organization. Unicast would not
be able to support this due to using TCP
protocol and only one source transmitting to
one destination. Multicast will support
sending video streams to both destinations
(Gallagher, 2015).
area network firewalls in order to be utilized.
Based on storage protocols, most cameras
support H.264 codec, which is a
compressed version of streaming video.
This allows network video recording
hardware to store much more data and
information due to the video files stored in
the system being compressed. With many
network cameras being high definition, ultra
high definition, and some even being 4k,
network utilization is at all time highs with
video surveillance transmission rates.
Disadvantages of Multicast
Because multicast video streaming supports
more than two destination links from one
source, more network bandwidth is
required. This may put more strain on
network devices such as routers and
switches because bandwidth utilization is
much higher than with unicast. The sole
advantage that unicast has over multicast in
regards to streaming is the fact that unicast
costs less to implement and is overall a
much less amount of bandwidth required to
send video from one source to one
destination. Unicast will also ensure the
ability to maintain lower latency in network
bandwidth utilization due to only one source
to one destination ratio (Tyco Security
Other ports and protocols
Network based surveillance systems have
the ability to take advantage of other video
streaming protocols. Many network
cameras use port 80, which is HTTP. Other
widely used ports are TCP 554 and RSTP.
These ports must be configured in local
Larger companies may have much more
video surveillance needs than smaller
organizations. Because of this, larger
organizations should opt for multicast video
streaming for their video surveillance
systems. Smaller companies may opt for
unicast surveillance streaming to storage
devices, only because most small
companies will only need one source
streaming video to one destination. Larger
companies may have other requirements,
making a multicast streaming environment
mandatory. This would include having more
than one source to destination video
streaming requirement. Cost may play a
factor in deciding whether to utilize multicast
or unicast. Unicast video streaming tends
to be a cheaper option since less
destinations are required, meaning less
infrastructure is required to support the
much higher required bandwidths of
implementing multicast. The factors
surveyed in this writing must be taken into
account in order for information technology
team management to decide what network
based surveillance system options that best
suits enterprise mission objectives.
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