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Steps to athe
Top 10
of IP Surveillance
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Video Surveillance
to a Successful
IP Surveillance Installation
By Fredrik Nilsson
Starting a Major Video Project? Steer Clear of the Pitfalls
and Find the Smooth Route by Using the following 10
Steps to a Successful IP Surveillance Installation. . . . . . . . pg. 4
Step #1: From Image Quality to Progressive Scans and APIs,
What You Should Consider when Choosing a Camera. . . pg. 5
Step #2: MPEG-4, Motion JPEG, MPEG-2, License Feeds, Bit
Rates and More: What It All Means . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg. 6
Step #3: What to Look For in a Video Management System,
Plus How Open and Closed Systems Differ. . . . . . . . . . . . pg. 8
Step #4: Understanding IP-based Video Storage and Server
Systems, Plus How to Calculate Storage Needs. . . . . . . . pg. 10
The following are a series of articles looking
at the steps to a successful IP surveillance installation. Fredrik Nilsson, general manager at IP surveillance manufacturer Axis Communications,
has authored 10 articles on how to successfuly
install an IP surveillance system that have been
published on and in
Security Technology & Design. Mr. Nilsson can
be reached at [email protected]
Step #5: Incorporating Analog Cameras with Video Servers. . . . . . pg. 13
Step #6: Wireless Networking Options for Surveillance
Video Transmissions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg. 14
Step #7: Designing the Network. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg. 16
Step #8: Security. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pg. 18
Step #9: Hot Technologies Definining IP Surveillance: Intelligent
Video, Megapixel Cameras and Immersive Imaging. . . . . pg.20
Step #10: Best Practices for IP Surveillance Projects. . . . . . . . . pg.22
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
Originally published on • 2006
Introduction: Starting a Major Video Project?
Steer Clear of the Pitfalls and Find the Smooth
Route by Using the Following 10 Steps to a
Successful IP Surveillance Installation
As IP surveillance is quickly becoming
the most flexible and future-proof option
for security and surveillance installations,
it is important for users to understand common pitfalls, customization options and the
advantages of a fully digital system.
Starting with the first step in February
and continuing through November - and
published jointly via SecurityInfoWatch.
com and in Security Technology & Design
magazine -- we will examine 10 steps that
security professionals can take in order to
implement a successful IP Surveillance system. These include:
Step 1: Choosing a network camera
It is important to select cameras that
meet the needs of your organization and
installation. This includes cameras that
can be pan/tilt/zoom, vandal-proof, weather-resistant, or fixed-dome products. Each
type of camera can be blended into an IPSurveillance system to create a total package that solves your security needs. Also,
we have to consider that not all network
cameras are created equal. Some low-cost
network cameras may look appealing at
first, but security professionals need to understand how the components of a network
camera affect the camera’s performance
and durability.
Step 2: Compression
Video management tools are dependent on
the application and many factors have to
be considered. We’ll look at considerations
of available bandwidth, storage capabilities,
scalability, frame-rate control and integration capabilities.
transport protocols along with transmission methods, bandwidth, scalability and
network security. In this article, we’ll touch
on all of those issues - before you encounter them.
Step 4: Storage
Securing video is one of the most important steps in creating a successful IP surveillance installation. Nearly all security
and surveillance applications contain sensitive information that should not be available to anyone with an Internet connection. Understanding and choosing the right
security options - such as firewalls, virtual
private networks (VPNs) and password protection - will eliminate concerns that an IP
surveillance system is open to the public.
The ability to use open storage solutions
is one of the main benefits with IP surveillance. Considerations when determining
storage requirements include frame rate,
the amount of time the video needs to
be stored, the required redundancy, and
which type of storage that fits best, e.g. a
storage area network, or network attached
Step 5: Incorporating Analog
So you have analog cameras? These also
can be integrated into a network video system using video servers. The analog camera is simply connected to a video server,
which digitizes, compresses and transmits
video over the network. Many times, this
is useful in reducing installation costs because older equipment can continue to
be used. However, there are instances in
which it is not sufficient to simply convert
an analog camera video stream into digital
due to limitations in video quality.
All digital video surveillance systems use
some type of compression for the digital
video. Without effective compression, our
networks would grind to a halt due to the
size of the video files. Selecting the right
compression is vital, and includes choices
between proprietary or industry standard
modes such as Motion JPEG or MPEG-4.
Compression can also determine whether
video is admissible in court cases, an important consideration for security and surveillance installations.
Step 6: Wireless Networking
Step 3: Video Management
Each network design will be specific to
the needs of the user and the specified installation. Beyond the actual cameras, it is
important to consider IP addressing and
These days, video systems can evaluate
situations and take the appropriate action,
rather than just passively recording video.
Sometimes wireless solutions are the
best and most cost-effective option for
security and surveillance installations.
For example it could be useful in historic
buildings, where the installation of cables
would damage the interior, or within facilities where there is a need to move cameras
to new locations on a regular basis. The
technology can also be used to bridge sites
without expensive ground cabling.
Step 7: Designing the Network
Security Technology & Design /
Step 8: Security
Step 9: Hot Technologies
Today far more video is being recorded
than anyone could ever monitor or search.
Therefore, the next big trend in IP surveillance is intelligent video. Advanced network
cameras can have built-in motion detection and event handling. In addition, more
intelligent algorithms - such as number
(license) plate recognition, people counting -- are being integrated into security and
surveillance systems. Network cameras
and intelligent video have important synergies that make the systems more reliable
and effective than those with a digital video
recorder or other centralized system.
Step 10: Best Practices
Over the last few years, thousands of IP
surveillance systems have been installed,
and many lessons have been learned.
These range from simple tips about camera
placement and lighting conditions to working with IT departments and technicians to
determine issues such as the peak times for
network usage. As we close the series, we’ll
touch on these concerns.
By the end of this article series, these 10
steps will enable any security professional
to avoid pitfalls and implement best practices, making IP srveillance installations
easier to install and manage.
Originally published on • 2006
Step #1: From Image Quality to
Progressive Scans and APIs, What You
Should Consider When Choosing a Camera
When building a surveillance system, it
is important to select cameras that meet
the needs of your organization and installation. This includes selecting specific types
of cameras to meet the locations where
cameras are needed and the intricacies of
the venue, including fixed, pan/tilt/zoom
(PTZ), vandal-proof, or fixed-dome cameras.
There are all types of network cameras
available today, and no matter what your
needs are, a network camera is available
to meet them. Although analog cameras
are available in a similar variety, network
cameras are now offering added benefits,
including better image quality and more
installation flexibility. And for some special
applications, such as very high-resolution
needs, or wireless, network cameras are
the only option.
Selecting the right network camera is a
critical for the success of your surveillance
system. For example, retail environments
will have different needs than schools or
highway systems, and every installation
has some features that are more important than others. Some may value off-site
recording and storage over other features
such as Power over Ethernet (PoE) or alarm
Off-site recording was particularly important to Todd Jacobson, the owner of a
Citgo Sooper Stop in North Dakota. Within
three weeks of installing a network video
system, his convenience store was robbed.
However, because the video was stored offsite, the thief was unable to steal the video
tape during the robbery, as is common with
traditional analog CCTV systems. Because
of the high image quality and the offsite recording, police were able to identify and apprehend the perpetrator within four hours
and Jacobson recovered all of the losses
from the robbery.
This example also indicates that not all
network cameras are created equal. If Jacobson had been using a low-end network
camera, it is possible that image quality
wouldn’t have been good enough to help the
police identify the thief. There are many
components that go into creating a quality
network camera, and security profession-
als need to understand how these components affect the camera’s performance and
Image quality — Image quality is the
most important feature of any camera. This
is particularly so in surveillance and monitoring applications, where lives and property may be at stake. Superior image quality
enables users to more closely follow details
and changes in images, making for better
and faster decisions. It also ensures greater
accuracy for automated analysis and alarm
tools, such as object recognition.
When assessing image quality be sure to
research the following factors: light sensitivity, the crispness of moving objects, and
the clarity level. A camera’s datasheet will
tell part of the story, but it is a good idea to
field test a few cameras before making a decision. In addition, there are some simple
steps you can take to ensure high quality
images - use enough light, avoid backlight
and reduce contrast whenever possible.
It is also critical to take into account the
location of the cameras, especially if the
cameras will be used outdoors. An auto
iris lens, which automatically adjusts the
amount of light that reaches the image sensor, should always be used for outdoor applications. Direct sunlight should always be
avoided. Mount the camera high above the
ground to avoid a contrast effect from the
sky. If the camera is mounted behind glass,
the lens must be placed close to the glass to
avoid reflections. If the camera will be used
at night, an infrared (IR) camera should be
used generate high quality images in very
low light conditions.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) — In most
buildings today, TCP/IP infrastructure is
available by means of Cat 5 and 6 cabling.
The cabling can be used for fast transport
of data, and the distribution of power to devices connected to the network, using PoE
technology. PoE reduces installation costs
by eliminating the need for power outlets
at the camera locations and enables easier
application of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to ensure continual operation,
even during a power outage.
PoE technology is regulated by the IEEE
802.3af standard and is designed to not
degrade the network data communication
performance. When evaluating PoE-enabled network cameras, it is important to
look for those that are based on the IEEE
standard, to ensure that any brand network
switch can be chosen, providing a truly
open system.
Progressive scan — Progressive scan capability is found only in network cameras,
but not all network cameras have this functionality. Progressive scan involves exposing and capturing the entire image simultaneously, as opposed to analog interlaced
scanning which is the exposing and capturing of only half of the lines in the image
and then the other half 17msec later. With
interlaced scanning, if an object is moving
the image will become blurry. In a progressive scan image all lines are scanned in perfect order so there is virtually no “flickering” effect.
While interlaced scanning may be sufficient under certain conditions, progressive
scan technology allows for far better image
quality on moving objects. In a surveillance
application, this can be critical in enabling
the user to view detail within a moving image such as a person running away or the
license plate on a moving vehicle. When
cameras capture moving objects, the sharpness of the frozen images depend on the
technology used, and progressive scanning
consistently produces the best results in
clarity and recognizing important details.
JPEG/MPEG4 standards — It is important for any network camera to follow JPEG
and MPEG-4 standards in their entirety.
Many vendors claim compliance with a
standard, but do not adhere to that standard 100 percent. Full adherence ensures
the flexibility to use video for many different applications. It also guarantees that you
can view the video many years from now. If
a camera uses one company’s proprietary
compression technology and that company
goes out of business, the video will be unreadable in the future. Also, if a company
is following the MPEG-4 standards, ask if
the licensing fees are paid, and how many
licenses are included with each product.
Proprietary compression technologies are
also not always admissible in court, an im-
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
portant consideration for security and surveillance applications.
Extensive support of Video Management
Applications — The security industry migration to network video includes the use
of open systems and platforms. Make sure
to select a network camera that has open
interfaces (an API or Application Programming Interface), which enables a large variety of software vendors to write programs
for the cameras. This will increase your
choices in software applications and will
ensure that you are not tied to a single vendor. Your choice of network camera should
never limit vendor options and functionalities.
Vendor history and focus — It is important to make network camera decisions
based on estimations of future growth and
the need for added features and functionality. This means your network camera manufacturer is going to be a long-term partner.
It’s important to choose a solid partner, so
be sure to look for a company that has a
large installed base of cameras, is profitable, focuses on network camera technology, and offers you local representation and
support. You want to choose a camera from
a vendor where the innovation, support,
upgrades, and product path will be there
for the long term.
Just like with analog cameras, not all
network cameras are created equal. Far
from it, and the differences among network
cameras are greater and more significant
than buyers have experienced with analog
technology. The end user has to be smart.
Vendors will tell a lot of great sounding stories, but the user has to have a solid list of
evaluation criteria, test the different choices, and understand the differences between
the available products.
Network Camera Check List Suggestions
Lens: F2.0 and auto iris for outdoor applications
Image sensor: Progressive scan CCD image sensor or high
quality CMOS
Resolution: 640x480
Frame rate: 30 frames per second
Video formats: MJPEG & MPEG4 at Advanced Simple Profile
level 5
Power over Ethernet: 802.3af compliant
Audio: G.711 or AAC-LC format
Software compatibility: Open API supported by many
Network Video Recorder software developers
Security: Multi-level user name/password protection minimum
and IP filtering and HTTPS for high security requirements
Management: Built in web interface and multi-camera
management application
Originally published on • 2006
Step #2: MPEG-4, Motion JPEG,
MPEG-2, License Fees, Bit Rates and More:
What It All Means
Every digital video surveillance system
uses compression in order to manage file
size when transporting video over the network for storage and viewing. Bandwidth
and storage requirements render uncompressed video impractical and expensive,
so compression technologies have emerged
as an efficient way to reduce the amount of
data sent over the network. In short, compression saves money.
Today there are many kinds of compression available. Compression technology can
be proprietary - invented and supported by
one only vendor - or based on a standard
and supported by many vendors. Selecting
the right compression is vital to ensuring
the success of a video surveillance installation. It provides the appropriate quality at
the budgeted cost and ensures the system
is future proof. Selecting the right compression can even determine whether video is
admissible in court cases, an important
consideration for security and surveillance
Compression Terminology
The effectiveness of an image compression technique is determined by the compression ratio, calculated as the original
(uncompressed) image file size divided by
the resulting (compressed) image file size.
At a higher compression ratio, less bandwidth is consumed at a given frame rate.
If bandwidth is kept consistent, the frame
rate is increased. A higher compression ratio also results in lower image quality for
each individual image.
[See Images A, B, C and D to compare
Security Technology & Design /
how different compression formats can affect your final image quality.]
There are essentially two approaches to
compression: lossless or lossy. In lossless
compression, each pixel is unchanged, resulting in an identical image after the image is decompressed for viewing. Files remain relatively large in a lossless system,
which makes them impractical for use in
network video solutions. A well-known
lossless compression format is the Graphics Interchange Format , better known as
a .GIF image.
To overcome these problems, several
lossy compression standards have been
developed, such as JPEG and MPEG. The
fundamental idea in lossy compression is
to reduce portions of the image that appear invisible to the human eye, thereby
Image A: Zoomed out image from an
original 11MB file that has seen very little
Image B: A zoomed-out highly compressed
still image. The original of Image A had
lower compression ratio resulting in a larger
file size (11MB) than Image B (90KB). When
looking at the whole image, the quality
appears to be equal.
Image C: Zooming in on the original image
(compressed only slightly) shows the
motorcycle in the picture in relatively strong
Image D: But when the highly compressed
version of the image is zoomed in on, the
loss of data becomes evident.
decreasing the size of the data transmitted
and stored.
A Note on Still Images
Video is essentially a stream of individual
images. The most widely accepted standard
for still image compression is the Joint Photographic Expert Groups (JPEG) standard.
It was developed in the 1980s and has been
integrated into standard Web browsers.
JPEG decreases file sizes by making use of
similarities between neighboring pixels in
the image and the limitations of the human
eye. Other lossy image compression techniques include JPEG2000 and Wavelet.
JPEG is by far the most common and most
widely supported compression standard for
still images.
Motion JPEG is the most commonly used
standard in network video systems, however it is technically a still-image compression technique. When employing Motion
JPEG compression, network cameras capture individual images and compress them
into JPEG format - similar to a still picture
- and there is no compression between the
individual frames. If a network camera captures and compresses 30 individual still images per second, it makes them available
as a continuous flow of images resulting in
full-motion video. As each individual image is a complete JPEG compressed image,
they all have the same guaranteed quality,
determined by the compression ratio for
the network camera or video server.
Video Compression
Video compression uses a similar method
as that of still image compression. However,
it adds compression between the frames to
further reduce the average file size. MPEG
is one of the best-known audio and video
compression standards and was created by
the Motion Picture Experts Group in the
late 1980s. MPEG compression utilizes one
frame as a reference. Each additional frame
saves and transports only the image information that is different from the original. If
there is little change between the images,
there will be few differences resulting in
a high compression ratio. With significant
movement in the images the compression
ratio will be much lower. The video is then
reconstructed at the viewing station based
on the reference image and the “difference data.” MPEG video compression leads
to lower data volumes being transmitted
across the network than with JPEG.
[Images E and F give an example of the
difference between how a Motion JPEG
storage format works and that of an MPEG
The MPEG standard has evolved since
its inception. MPEG-1 was released in 1993
and was intended for storing digital video
onto CDs. For MPEG-1, the focus was on
keeping the bit-rate (the amount of data
transmitted via the network per second)
relatively constant. However, this created
inconsistent image quality, typically comparable to that of videotapes.
MPEG-2 was approved in 1994 and was
designed for video on DVDs, digital highdefinition TV, interactive storage media,
digital broadcast video, and cable TV. The
MPEG-2 project focused on extending the
MPEG-1 compression technique to cover
larger, higher quality pictures with a lower
compression ratio and higher bit-rate.
For network video systems, MPEG-4 is a
major improvement from MPEG-2. It was
approved as a standard in 2000, and there
are many more tools in MPEG-4 to lower
the bit-rate needed and achieve higher image qualities. MPEG-4 comes in many different versions. Simple Profile is the lowest
quality, while Advance Simple Profile (Part
2) provides much higher quality video. A
newer version of MPEG-4 called Part 10 (or
AVC - Advanced Video Coding, or H.264) is
also available.
With a limited bandwidth available, users can opt for a constant bit-rate (CBR),
which generates a constant, pre-set bitrate. However, the image quality will vary
depending on the amount of motion in the
scene. As an alternative, users can use a
variable bit-rate (VBR) where parameters
can be set to maintain high image quality regardless of the motion in the scene.
This option is generally preferred in surveillance applications. Because the actual
bit-rate will vary with VBR, the network
infrastructure must have enough capacity
to transport the video.
The MPEG-4 vs.
Motion JPEG Debate
As described above, MPEG-4 and Motion
JPEG each employ a different technique for
Image E: An example of a sequence of three
complete JPEG images.
Image F: An example showing how the
sequence of three MPEG images is stored.
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
reducing the amount of data transferred and
stored in a network video system. There are
advantages and disadvantages to each, so it
is best to consider the goals of the overall
surveillance system when deciding which of
the two standards is most appropriate.
Due to its simplicity, Motion JPEG is often a good choice. There is limited delay
between image capturing, encoding, transfer, decoding, and finally display. In other
words, Motion JPEG has very little latency,
making it most suitable for real-time viewing, image processing, motion detection or
object tracking.
Motion JPEG also guarantees image quality regardless of movement or image complexity. It offers the flexibility to select either high image quality (low compression)
or lower image quality (high compression),
with the benefit of smaller file sizes and decreased bandwidth usage. The frame rate
can easily be adjusted to limit bandwidth
usage, without loss of image quality.
However, Motion JPEG files are still typically larger than those compressed with
the MPEG-4 standard. MPEG-4 requires
less bandwidth and storage to transfer
data resulting in cost savings. At lower
frame rates (below 5 fps) the bandwidth
savings created by using MPEG-4 are limited. Employing Motion JPEG network
cameras with video motion detection built
in, is an interesting alternative, if a higher
frame rate is only required a portion of
the time when motion is in the image. If
the bandwidth is limited, or if video is to
be recorded continuously at a high frame
rate, MPEG-4 may be the preferred option.
Because of the more complex compression
in a MPEG-4 system, there is more latency
before video is available at the viewing station. The viewing station needs to be more
powerful (and hence expensive) to decode
MPEG4, as opposed to the decoding of Motion JPEG streams.
One of the best ways to maximize the
benefits of both standards is to look for network video products that can deliver simultaneous MPEG-4 and Motion JPEG streams.
This gives users the flexibility to both maximize image quality for recording and reduce
bandwidth needs for live viewing.
One other item to keep in mind is that
both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 are subject to
licensing fees, which can add additional
costs to the maintenance of a network video system. It is important to ask your vendor if the license fees are paid. If not, you
will incur additional costs later on.
Other Considerations
Another important consideration is the use
of proprietary compression. Some vendors
don’t adhere to a standard 100 percent or use
their own techniques. If proprietary compression is used, users will no longer be able to access or view their files should that particular
vendor stop supporting that technology.
Proprietary compression also comes into
consideration if the surveillance video will
potentially be used in court. If so, using
industry standard compression ensures
that video evidence will be admissible.
Some courts believe that evidentiary video
should be based on individual frames, not
related to each other or manipulated. This
would eliminate MPEG because of the way
the information is processed. The British
court system, which has been leading digital video admissibility, requires an audit
trail that describes how the images were
obtained, where they were stored, etc., to
make sure the information is not tampered
with in any way. As digital video becomes
more widely adopted, the issue of admissibility in court will be one to watch.
Compression is one of the most important factors to building a successful network video system. It influences image and
video quality, latency, cost of the network,
storage, and can even determine whether
video is court admissible. Because of these
considerations, it is important to choose
your compression standard carefully ...
otherwise, the video may be rendered obsolete for your purposes.
Does one compression
standard fit all?
When considering this question and when
designing a network video application, the
following issues should be addressed:
• What frame rate is required?
• Is the same frame rate needed at
all times?
• Is recording/monitoring needed at
all times, or only upon motion/event?
• For how long must the video
be stored?
• What resolution is required?
• What image quality is required?
• What level of latency (total time for
encoding and decoding) is acceptable?
• How robus/secure must the system be?
• What is the available network
• What is the budget for the system?
Originally published on • 2006
Step #3: What to Look For in a Video
Management System, Plus How Open
and Closed Systems Differ
Video management platforms in IP surveillance systems can be likened to what
VCRs did for pure analog systems and what
digital video recorders (DVRs) do for hybrid analog and digital systems. However,
unlike a simple hardware upgrade, today’s
video management platforms also add new
possibilities in functionality, scalability and
A video management system is a very
important component of IP surveillance
systems because it effectively manages
video for live monitoring and recording.
Video management requirements differ
depending on the number of cameras, performance requirements, platform preferences, scalability, and ability to integrate
with other systems. Solutions typically
range from single PC systems to advanced
client/server-based software that provides
Security Technology & Design /
support for multiple simultaneous users
and thousands of cameras.
No matter the type or size, there are
common features in almost every video
management system including:
• Motion-Based Recording — Video motion detection (VMD) defines activity by
analyzing data and differences in a series
of images. VMD can be performed at the
camera level, which is preferred, or reside
in the video management software. Video
management software can provide motion
detection functionality to network cameras
not equipped with this feature.
• Alarm Generation — Video management systems permit users to generate
alarms based on motion. For example, parameters can be established so that alarms
are not sent during hours of normal activity, such as from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday
through Friday. Therefore, if motion is detected at 3 a.m. on a Saturday, the system
knows that this activity is not normal, and
can send e-mails or text message alerts to
the proper authorities.
• Frame Rate Control — Video management allows for frame rate control - meaning that video is monitored and recorded at
pre-determined frame rates. It can also be
configured to increase frame rates if activity is detected, or to reduce frame rates if
there is no motion.
• Simultaneous Camera Monitoring
— Video management makes it possible
for multiple users to view several different
cameras at the same time, and increase
the resolution for cameras with activity or
alarms. This enables the system to be utilized for different purposes and even different departments (such as a system in a retail space used for both security and store
traffic studies).
• Camera Management — Video management systems allow users to administrate and manage cameras from a single
interface. This is useful for tasks such as
detecting cameras on the network, managing IP addresses, and setting resolution,
compression and security levels. Cameras
are often located in distant or hard-to-reach
locations, making it impractical for the administrator to visit every location and individually upgrade every camera. Video management systems provide access to every
camera on the network and will automatically administer firmware upgrades.
Open and Closed
One of the first considerations when designing a video management system is the
type of hardware platform that is used. Just
like with DVRs, there are closed systems
in which the software and hardware come
bundled. These are typically referred to as
Network Video Recorders, or NVRs.
Although they are networked, NVRs are
dedicated to the specific task of recording,
analyzing and playing back video. They
do not allow other applications to reside
on them, so the hardware is essentially
“locked.” This means that it can rarely be
altered to accommodate anything outside
of the original specifications, such as virus
Device type
Door contact
Simple magnetic switch
detecting opening of
doors or windows.
When the door is opened the camera
takes action sending full motion video
and notifications.
A sensor that detects
motion based on heat
When motion is detected, the camera
takes action sending full motion video
and notifications.
Glass break detector
An active sensor that
measures air pressure
in a room and detects
sudden pressure drops.
When an air pressure drop is detected,
the camera takes action sending full
motion video and notifications.
Chart A. The range of devices that can be connected to a network camera’s input port is
almost infinite.
Device type
Door relay
A relay that controls the
opening and closing of
door locks.
The locking/unlocking of a door
controlled by a remote operator (over
the network).
Alarm siren configured
to sound when alarm is
The camera activates the siren either
when motion is detected using the builtin VMD or using “information” from the
digital input.
Alarm/intrusion system
Alarm security system
continuously monitoring
a normally closed, or
normally open, alarm
The camera acts as an integrated part
of the alarm system serving as a sensor
and enhancing the system with event
triggered video transfers.
Chart B. The output port’s function is to allow the camera to automatically trigger external
devices by remote control from human operators, or software applications.
protection or intelligent video. NVRs are
easier to install, however the number of
cameras is often limited to four or 16, and
upgrading functionality or security is not
normally possible.
Network video systems also allow for
open systems with video management software that can be installed on a PC server
platform. Most video management systems
are available for the Windows operating
system, but there are also options for UNIX,
Linux and Mac OS.
Open platform solutions run on “off-theshelf” hardware, with components selected
for maximum performance. This allows
end users to work with their preferred
equipment suppliers and makes it easier
to upgrade or replace damaged parts. The
systems are also fully scalable because
cameras can be added one at a time, and
there is no limit to the number that can be
added or managed. Open systems are suitable for scenarios where large numbers of
cameras are deployed. They also make it
easier to add functionality to the system,
such as increased or external storage, firewalls, virus protection and intelligent video
Some video management systems use a
Web interface to access the video from any
type of computer platform. Web interfaces
allow video to be managed online from anywhere in the world, using the proper safeguards such as password protection and IP
address filtering.
It is also important to consider whether
a video management system is proprietary
and only works with network cameras from
select vendors. Video management software should support network cameras from
multiple vendors to ensure flexibility. However, even if a system claims to work with
many or all network cameras, the system
may still not provide the same functionality for all types of cameras, and integration
may not be as seamless.
Video management systems based on
open platforms have another advantage
in that they can be more easily integrated
with access control devices, building management systems (BMS), industrial control
systems and audio. This allows users to
manage video and other building controls
though a single program and interface. Integrating a video surveillance system with
access control systems allows video to be
captured at all entrance and exit points
and for pictures in a badge system to be
matched against images of the person actually using the access card.
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
The Michigan State Police’s Forensic Science
Lab used video management to integrate
network video with a building management
A prime example of integrating video
with access control systems is the Michigan
State Police’s Forensic Science Lab. When
the lab moved to a new facility outside of
the police compound, it installed a network
video system integrated with the building
access systems. This allows off-site police
officers to visually verify that the person
entering a secure area is authorized to do
so. As employees use their cardkeys for access, officers are able to match live images
of the people against pictures stored in the
access control database. This also saves officers from manually verifying false alarms,
which saves time and manpower.
Video management systems also enable
video to be integrated into industrial automation systems or BMS, such as heating,
ventilation, and air conditioning systems
(HVAC). To do this, digital inputs and outputs (I/O) provide data to the system or
the network cameras for functionalities
like controlling the heating or lighting in a
room when it is not in use.
I/O can be configured to record video or
send alarms in response to external sensors. This allows remote monitoring stations to become immediately aware of a
change in the monitored environment.
For industrial automation systems, video
is sometimes the only way to monitor activity in a room. For example, it is often not
possible to enter a clean room or an area
containing dangerous chemicals. Integrating video surveillance with access control
is the only way to have visual access to
the area both for security purposes and for
monitoring processes.
Audio can also be easily integrated with
video management systems because networks can carry any type of data. Depending on the video file format, audio can be
transported with or in tandem to the video
stream. This reduces the need for extra cabling - as opposed to analog systems where
an audio cable must be installed along with
the coaxial. Integrating audio into the system makes it possible for remote personnel
to hear and speak with possible perpetrators. Audio can also be used as an independent detection method, triggering video
recordings and alarms when audio levels
surpass a preset threshold.
IP-based video management platforms
allow users added flexibility and control
of a surveillance system. As additional
features are integrated into the system it
creates a more total solution for the security and building management needs of an
organization. As we look forward to intelligent video, video management software
will increasingly help generate and manage
“actionable information.”
Originally published on • 2006
Step #4: Understanding IP-Based Video
Storage and Server Systems, Plus How
to Calculate Storage Needs
Recording and saving video in an IP surveillance environment requires the ability
to store large amounts of data for sometimes unspecified lengths of time. There
are a number of different factors to consider when selecting the appropriate storage
system for an installation including scalability, redundancy and performance.
Similar to the way a PC can “save” documents and other files, video can be stored
on a server or PC hard disk. Specialized
equipment is not needed because a storage
solution does not differentiate video data
- it is viewed as any other large group of
files that is stored, accessed and eventually
deleted. However, video storage puts new
strains on storage hardware because it may
be required to operate on a continual basis,
as opposed to during normal business hours
with other types of files. In addition, video
by nature generates very large amount of
data creating high demand on the storage
Calculating the storage needs
In order to appropriately calculate the
storage requirements of a network surveillance system, there are a number of elements to factor in, such as the number of
cameras required in your installation, the
number of hours a day each camera will be
recording, how long the data will be stored,
and whether the system uses motion detection or continuous recording. Additional
parameters like frame rate, compression,
image quality and complexity should also
be considered.
The type of video compression employed
also effects storage calculations. Systems
employing JPEG or Motion-JPEG compression vary storage requirements by changing the frame rate, resolution and compres-
Security Technology & Design /
sion. If MPEG compression is used, then bit
rate is the key factor determining the corresponding storage requirements.
Storage is usually measured in Megabytes (MB) per hour or in Gigabytes (GB)
per day. One MB equals one million bytes,
and one GB is one billion bytes. There are
eight bits per byte, and these bits are essentially small “pulses” of information.
Fortunately, there are very specific formulas available for calculating the proper
amount of storage to buy. These formulas
are different for Motion-JPEG and MPEG
compression because Motion-JPEG consists of one individual file for each image,
while MPEG is a stream of data, measured
in bits per second. The formulas are as follows:
Motion JPEG
1. Image size x frames per second x 3600s
= KB per hour / 1000 = MB per hour
Image size (KB)
Frames per
Hours of
Total for the 3 cameras and 30 days of storage=1002 GB
Bit Rate (kBit/s)
Frames per
Hours of
Total for the 3 cameras and 30 days of storage= 204 GB
2. MB per hour x hours of operation per
day / 1000 = GB per day
3. GB per day x requested period of storage = Storage need
1. Bit rate / 8(bits in a byte) x 3600s = KB
per hour / 1000 = MB per hour
2. MB per hour x hours of operation per
day / 1000 = GB per day
3. GB per day x requested period of storage = Storage need
Storage Options
As previously mentioned, IP surveillance
does not require specialized storage solutions - it simply utilizes standard components commonly found in the IT industry.
This provides lower system costs, higher
redundancy, and greater performance and
scalability than found in DVR counterparts.
Storage solutions depend on a PC’s or
server’s ability to store data. As larger hard
drives are produced at lower costs, it is
becoming less and less expensive to store
video. There are two ways to approach
hard disk storage. One is to have the storage attached to the actual server running
the application. The other is a storage solution where the storage is separate from
the server running the application, called
network attached storage (NAS) or storage
area networks (SANs).
Direct server attached storage is probably the most common solution for hard
disk storage in small to medium-sized IP
surveillance installations (See image 1,
server attached storage). The hard disk is
located in the same PC server that runs the
video management software. The PC and
the number of hard disks it can hold determine the amount of storage space available. Most standard PCs can hold between
two and four hard disks. With today’s technology, each disk can store approximately
300 gigabytes of information for a total capacity of approximately 1.2 terabytes (one
thousand gigabytes).
When the amount of stored data and
management requirements exceed the limitations of direct attached storage, a NAS or
SAN and allows for increased storage space,
flexibility and recoverability.
NAS provides a single storage device that
is directly attached to a Local Area Network
(LAN) and offers shared storage to all clients on the network (See image 2, network
attached storage). A NAS device is simple
to install and easy to administer, providing a low-cost storage solution. However, it
provides limited throughput for incoming
data because it has only one network connection, which could become problematic
in high-performance systems.
SANs are high-speed, special-purpose
networks for storage, typically connected
to one or more servers via fiber. Users can
access any of the storage devices on the
SAN through the servers, and the storage is
scalable to hundreds of terabytes. Centralized storage reduces administration and
provides a high-performance, flexible storage system for use in multi-server environments. In a SAN system, files can be stored
block by block on multiple hard disks.
Technologies such as Fiber Channel are
commonly used, providing data transfers at
four gigabits per second (Gbps).
This type of hard disk configuration allows for very large and scalable solutions
where large amounts of data can be stored
with a high level of redundancy. For example, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) recently updated an
analog tape storage system to a SAN system, allowing the department to install a
greater number of cameras throughout its
locations and centralize the storage of remote video feeds. The DJJ employed EMC
Corp.’s Surveillance Analysis and Management Solution (SAMS) to make the video
searchable. This system, which handles
hundreds of cameras, is easily expanded
and managed as each individual facilities’
needs change.
Redundant Storage
SAN systems build redundancy into the
storage device. Redundancy in a storage
system allows for video, or any other data,
to be saved simultaneously in more than
one location. This provides a backup for
recovering video if a portion of the storage
system becomes unreadable. There are a
number of options for providing this added
storage layer in an IP surveillance system,
including a Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID), data replication, tape
backups, server clustering and multiple
video recipients.
RAID — RAID is a method of arranging
standard, off-the-shelf hard drives such
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
Image 1: Server attached storage puts the video storage directly on the same server or PC as
the video management software.
Axis Network Cameras
PC Server with
video management
Network switch,
broadband router
or corporate firewall
Image 2: Network attached storage offers shared storage to all clients on the network, and is a
single storage device directly attached to the LAN.
Axis Network Cameras
Network switch,
broadband router
or corporate firewall
PC Server with
video management
Image 3: To not lose data upon the event of a file server failure, many companies and
integrators are turning to data replication systems that automatically replicate data on other
units in the even that the primary data server fails.
Security Technology & Design /
that the operating system sees them as one
large hard disk. A RAID set up spans data
over multiple hard disk drives with enough
redundancy that data can be recovered if
one disk fails. There are different levels of
RAID - ranging from practically no redundancy, to a full-mirrored solution in which
there is no disruption and no data loss in
the event of hard disk failure.
Data replication — This is a common
feature in many network operating systems. File servers in the network are configured to replicate data among each other
providing a back up if one server fails (See
image 3, data replication).
Tape backup — Tape backup is an alternative or complementing method where a
tape backup machine is installed on the
server and records copies of all materials
saved on a periodic basis, i.e. daily or weekly. There is a variety of software and hardware equipment available, and backup policies normally include taking tapes off-site
to prevent possible fire damage or theft.
Server clustering — A common server
clustering method is to have two servers
work with the same storage device, such
as a RAID system. When one server fails,
the other identically configured server
takes over. These servers can even share
the same IP address, which makes the so
called “fail-over” completely transparent
for users.
Multiple video recipients — A common
method to ensure disaster recovery and offsite storage in network video is to simultaneously send the video to two different
servers in separate locations. These servers can be equipped with RAID, work in
clusters, or replicate their data with servers even further away. This is an especially
useful approach when surveillance systems
are in hazardous or not easily accessible
areas, like mass-transit installations or industrial facilities.
The variety of storage options available for IP surveillance systems makes
it crucial to consider the different ways
the information will be used and stored
for the long term. As hard drive technology continues to advance, it is important to utilize open standards to ensure
that storage is scalable and future proof.
In addition, advances in IP-surveillance - such as intelligent video algorithms - will make it even more critical
to select open storage devices that can
handle combinations of data from different sources. Storage systems should
be able to accommodate new and upcoming applications so that equipment
investments are not lost as technology
Originally published in Security Technology & Design magazine • June 2006
Step #5: Incorporating Analog Cameras with Video Servers
As outlined in Myth #9 of our previous
article series, The Top 10 Myths of IP Surveillance (available in the archives of, existing analog surveillance systems can easily be upgraded
to IP surveillance systems by incorporating
video servers. This allows for digital delivery and control of video without the replacement of every camera with a network
By connecting existing analog cameras
to video servers, you can digitize, compress
and transmit video over the network. This
reduces installation costs by incorporating
older equipment into the network video
system and allowing for better scalability,
storage on standard PC servers, and remote
recording and monitoring.
Video Servers 101
A video server—sometimes referred to as
a video encoder—eliminates the need for
dedicated equipment such as monitors and
DVRs by using standard IT equipment and
infrastructure. Each video server can connect between one and four analog cameras
to the network through an Ethernet port.
Like network cameras, video servers contain built-in analog-to-digital conversion,
compression, Web and FTP servers, as well
as processing power for local intelligence.
Incoming analog feeds are converted into
digital video, transmitted over the computer network, and stored on PCs for easy
viewing and accessibility.
Once the video is on the network, it is
identical to video streams coming from
network cameras. Analog cameras of all
types—fixed, dome, indoor, outdoor, pan/
tilt/zoom, and specialty cameras—can be
integrated into network video systems using video servers.
A video server has a coaxial input that
connects it to the analog camera. The
server in turn connects to the network
via an Ethernet port. All video is digitized
A video server blade (left) easily fits into a
rack (right), saving space in the server room.
and compressed within
the video server and sent
over the network via a network switch to a PC, which
typically runs video management
software for storing and monitoring
the video.
Rack-Mounted or Stand-Alone?
Video servers save space by fitting into
existing server rooms, eliminating the
need for dedicated CCTV control rooms.
If coax cabling has already been run to a
central room, a video server rack can be
used. Rack-mountable video servers come
as “blades,” which are essentially video
servers without their casings. This allows
the video servers to be placed in server
racks, which are common in IT environments.
Placing blade video servers in racks allows them to be managed centrally with a
common power supply. One standard 19inch rack that is 3U high can fit up to 48
channels—meaning that up to 48 cameras
can be digitized on a single rack.
The functionality of a blade server is exactly the same as a standalone video server.
Blades are interchangeable and hot-swappable in the rack, and they provide network, serial communication and I/O connectors at the rear of each slot.
In an analog camera system where co-
A network video system in which video is continuously transported over an IP network.
Video servers turn the analog security system into an IP-based video solution.
axial cabling has not been run to a central
location, it is best to use stand-alone video
servers positioned close to each camera.
This method reduces installation costs because it uses existing network cabling to
transmit video, instead of running coaxial
cabling to a central location. It also eliminates the loss in image quality that occurs
over longer distances when video is transferred through coaxial cabling. A video
server produces digital images, so there is
no quality reduction due to distance.
Advantages of Going Digital
The Alaska Department of Transportation recognized the advantages of a network video system and recently incorporated video servers into nine of the largest
ferry terminals in the Alaska Marine Highway System.
The organization worked with integrator
CamCentral to install the system, which
uses video servers to digitize video from
analog cameras installed throughout the
ferry terminals, enabling staff, security services, and local law enforcement units to
monitor the facilities, surrounding waters,
and vehicle and passenger traffic via the
Internet. When the terminals are closed,
local law enforcement officials and other
authorized users can access the system
remotely and receive alerts if unusual motion is detected in the facilities. The Alaska
DOT realized a number of advantages that
video servers could bring to its analog surveillance systems.
Recording, management, and storage
— Because video servers use standard PCs
for video recording and management, they
are easy to integrate with existing IT systems and can be managed as part of that
infrastructure. Video servers allow video to
be stored with standard storage solutions,
including network attached storage (NAS),
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
storage area networks (SAN) and Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks (RAID).
These storage systems are easily expandable, reliable, cost effective, and repairable or replaceable in case of failure. By
contrast, DVR systems require proprietary
hardware, which is more costly and difficult to replace or upgrade. CamCentral and
the Alaska DOT also took advantage of the
video servers’ ability to handle firewalls,
passwords and other network security
technology—something that can rarely be
done with DVRs.
Scalability — Both video servers and
DVRs leverage existing investments in analog cameras, but only video servers make
total use of network infrastructure. This
is particularly important when expanding
the network video system. An IP surveillance system is expandable in one-camera
increments. DVR systems, on the other
hand, expand in larger increments. Once
the capacity of a DVR is maximized, a new
DVR box with 16 or more channels must be
added to the system, even if only a handful
of cameras need to be accommodated.
Remote recording and monitoring
— Video servers allow users to access and
record video at remote locations, provided
they have the appropriate authorization
and login information. Off-site recording
can be beneficial in retail environments
where it guarantees that video is protected during a theft on the premises. Off-site
viewing allows security personnel to keep
an eye on their establishment without being on the premises.
Decentralization — Video servers decentralize digitization and compression
functions, so information is handled at the
source instead of in a centralized place.
This opens the door for up-and-coming applications like intelligent video, which can
be used in identifying abandoned luggage at
an airport or reading a license plate number in a parking garage.
In the case of the Alaska DOT, using
video servers allowed CamCentral to create specialized motion-detection software
that was optimized for the marine environment. A centralized processing system, like
a DVR, cannot handle such applications be-
Video server installed alongside an analog
cause computing power is a scarce resource
that video and analysis are forced to share.
Even networked DVRs—which incorporate
an Ethernet port for network connectivity—do not provide the same functionality
as a video server system.
Video servers can provide cost savings
and more functionality than analog or DVR
systems. They create a truly digital surveillance system and allow users to capitalize
on almost all the benefits of network video
while incorporating network cameras as
expansion and upgrades are required.
Originally published on • 2006
Step #6: Wireless Networking Options for
Surveillance Video Transmissions
Sometimes wireless solutions are the
best and most cost-effective option for IP
surveillance installations. For example,
wireless networks are a common choice in
historic buildings where the installation of
cables would damage the interior. Wireless
is also a preferred option within facilities
where there is a need to move cameras
to new locations on a regular basis. The
technology can also be used to bridge sites
without expensive ground cabling, or to
add cameras in difficult to reach locations
such as parking lots or city centers.
Using wireless with network cameras
and video servers can be done in a few different ways. Some cameras come with built
in wireless functionality, but any network
camera or video server can be incorporated
into a wireless application using a wireless
device point -- a device with an Ethernet
port and a wireless connection or built-in
802.11 and WLANs
Wireless local area networks (WLANs) are
the basis for most wireless networks. They
allow mobile users and devices to connect
to a Local Area Network (LAN) through a
wireless connection which transmits data
using high frequency radio waves. The process is similar to establishing a wireless Internet connection for home computers and
laptops; likewise, a company can establish
a WLAN allowing devices like computers
and network cameras to connect to the
network and transmit video.
WLAN standards are well defined, and
devices from different vendors can work together, which allows for the vendor neutrality
that end-users often request. The most commonly used standard is 802.11g, which provides higher transfer rates over greater distances than 802.11a and 802.11b. While the
popular 802.11b has a maximum data rate of
11 Megabits per second (Mbps), the 802.11g
Security Technology & Design /
provides five times that, with 54 Mbps. These
are the maximum data rates, but typical data
rates are about half that speed, and the further
the device is from the access point the lower
the bandwidth will be. 802.11b and 802.11g
operate within the 2.4 GHz frequency. Keep
in mind that higher frequencies shorten the
distance that radio waves can reach.
While 802.11g is sufficient for full frame
rate video, it operates at only 25 percent of
a typical 100 Mbps wired connection. The
next generation WLAN standard will be
802.11n and the “n” standard will greatly
increase the speed of wireless data transmissions. This will improve the functionality of wireless IP surveillance systems as it
will be possible to transmit video at even
higher frame rates.
Alternatives to 802.11
Some solutions use standards other than
802.11, and many of these offerings can
provide increased performance and much
longer distances in combination with very
high security. This includes the use of microwaves and satellites. A microwave link
can provide up to 1,000 Mbps at up to 130
miles. Satellite communication allows for
even further distances, but due to the way
this system operates -- it transmits up to
a satellite and then back down to earth -the latency can be very long. This makes it
less suitable for functions like controlling
camera movement and video conferencing where low latency is preferred. If larger
bandwidth is required, the use of satellite
systems also becomes very costly.
WiMAX, or 802.16, is the standard for
broadband wireless access. It enables devices with wireless connections to operate
within a 30-mile range. It is being utilized
for fixed broadband wireless metropolitan
access networks (WMANs), including those
in development in San Francisco and Milwaukee. WiMAX supports very high uploading and downloading bit rates to handle
services such as Voice over IP (VoIP).
Types of Wireless Networks
There are three major types of wireless
networks, each providing different benefits
and functionalities. All three utilize wireless radio waves as the primary method for
transmitting data, although there are a few
other means of transmission.
Point-to-point — When it is necessary to
connect two buildings or sites with a highspeed network, a point-to-point data link
capable of long distances and high speeds is
required. These connections can be wired
-- using fiber cabling -- or wireless, using radio waves or an optical link. Point-to-point
can be a good option to consider when
you’re faced with the challenge of trying
to create a central security command center when buildings are spread out among a
large campus, or are separated in a town
and its suburbs.
Some wireless point-to-point links require direct line-of-sight (LOS) between the
two points in order to establish a connection. This means there must be a direct, visible path between the transmitting antenna
and the receiving antenna to establish a
link. This can prove difficult in mountainous terrain or in urban areas where taller
buildings may disrupt LOS. There are costefficient solutions for point-to-point in the
900 MHz range that can transmit data a few
miles with non-line-of-site (NLOS), and up
to 40 miles with LOS.
Point-to-multipoint — Point-to-multipoint distributes data from a single source
to multiple targets. The typical range is up
to 15 miles at data speeds up to 72 Mbps.
Point-to-multipoint links can be done with
LOS or NLOS technology, depending on
the needs of the surrounding area. Deploying a wireless point-to-multipoint system is
much more cost efficient than a wired system that can require laying cabling across
vast distances.
Mesh networks — In a mesh networking
setup, all or most devices on the network
are connected directly to each other. If one
device can no longer operate, all the rest
still communicate with each other; it’s the
concept of a “self-healing” network. Mesh
networks work well when cameras are located at scattered points, but can be very
expensive to establish when using wired
connections. A wireless network allows
these devices to network together without
the need for physical cabling.
Security in Wireless Networks
Wireless networks allow for added flexibility in the placement of cameras and other
networked devices throughout the system,
but they require added security measures.
WLANs are not necessarily bound by the
walls of the buildings they serve, which
open them up to security issues not faced
with wired solutions. Due to the nature of
wireless communications, everyone with a
wireless device within the area covered by
the network can potentially access its applications.
To address these concerns, there are
a number of different methods for securing wireless networks, including Wireless
Equivalent Privacy (WEP), WiFi Protected
Access (WPA), and WiFi Protected Access
2 (WPA2), plus a number of proprietary solutions.
WEP — WEP encrypts data transmitted
over the WLAN. Once WEP has been established, other typical LAN security mechanisms such as password protection, end-toend encryption, virtual private networks,
and authentication can be put in place to
further ensure privacy. WEP adds encryption to the communication and prevents
people without the correct key from accessing the network. However, the encryption code in WEP is static, which makes it
vulnerable to attacks with inexpensive offthe-shelf software. Therefore it should not
be the only method used to secure a wireless network.
WPA — WPA was created as a response to
flaws in WEP. WPA works with most wireless
network interface cards. With WPA, the access key is changed with every transmitted
frame using Temporal Key Integrity Protocol
(TKIP). This makes it much more secure,
and it is now considered the basic level of
security necessary for wireless networks.
WPA2 — For even higher security, WPA2
should be used. WPA2 uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) instead of TKIP.
AES is the best encryption available for
wireless networks today and is currently
being used by the U.S. Government to secure sensitive, but not classified information. WPA2 is also referred to as 802.11i.
Some vendors have established proprietary modes of securing information on a
wireless network. While these systems may
be very secure, keep in mind that these can
become cumbersome and difficult to manage when working with a variety of vendors
on an installation.
Wireless networks can have a profound
affect when used in areas it would be otherwise impossible to deploy a surveillance
system. Ace Internet Solutions (AIS) installed a wireless IP Surveillance system
when it moved to an industrial park in Chicago. There had been a rash of vandalism
and theft in the area, and to help combat
the problem, the company wanted to install
a surveillance system to monitor an area
which encompassed nine square blocks.
“Because all of the network cameras
were set up outdoors, running data cabling
to each of them would have been too costly
and difficult to maintain,” said Jeff Holewinski, president of AIS. “With a wireless
connection, the cameras can transmit images no matter where they are, even from
the top of light poles.”
Using the wireless IP surveillance system,
AIS deployed a wireless option and later
discovered an extensive drag racing operation that was using the industrial park late
at night for races. AIS worked with the Chicago Police Department, which was able to
bust the ring, impound more than 100 cars,
and make more than 300 arrests.
While wireless networks have many benefits, there are still a few drawbacks. Wireless networks can affect the frame rate and
latency of video delivery, and bandwidth
is affected by the distance from the device
to the access point. Wireless networks are
also susceptible to interference by other
wireless technologies and systems.
However, wireless networks allow for
cameras and other devices on the network
to be moved quickly and easily without the
need for expensive cabling. While there are
still limitations and security concerns, they
can still prove advantageous when used
correctly for installations that would otherwise be too difficult or costly with wired
networks. It is important to understand
the benefits and challenges and analyze
whether a wireless solution will meet your
organization’s demands before installing
the network.
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
Originally published in Security Technology & Design magazine • August 2006
Step #7: Designing the Network
Networks allow devices such as network
cameras, servers and PCs to communicate
with each other, sharing information and,
in some cases, a common Internet connection. Network designs can take many forms
and vary in terms of performance and security.
It is useful to think of building a network
as a layering process, beginning with the
physical cabling configuration and connections. The number of cameras, the physical
environment, the sensitivity of the application, and the protocols and software will
impact the operation of the IP surveillance
• Ring — In a ring network, devices are
connected in a closed loop, meaning that
adjacent devices are directly and indirectly connected to other devices. MANs and
WANs often use ring configurations, but
this design can be used for LANs as well.
• Mesh — Mesh networks come in two
varieties: full and partial mesh. In a full
mesh network, devices are connected directly to each other. In partial mesh, some
devices are connected to all the others,
while some are connected only to those
with which they exchange the most data.
Mesh networks are becoming popular as
the use of wireless technologies grows.
Types of Networks
Wired and Wireless Options
Networks can be local area networks
(LANs), metropolitan area networks
(MANs) or wide area networks (WANs).
Each network covers a progressively larger area. For example, LANs exist within a
building or company, while MANs could
cover a campus or city center. WANs cover
the largest areas—anything from multiple
distant areas to the entire world. WANs often connect several smaller networks, such
as LANs and MANs. The largest WAN is the
Basic Network Layout
Networks are made up of cabling such
as Ethernet or fiber, and equipment such
as servers, routers and hubs. There are
many ways to physically lay out networks, but the main four designs are bus,
ring, star and mesh. You can determine
the right layout for any IP surveillance
system by considering requirements such
as redundancy, cost and number of cameras.
• Bus — A bus network connects each
device to a main cable or link called “the
bus,” creating a simple and reliable network configuration. If one device fails, the
rest can still communicate with each other,
unless the bus itself is broken. This setup is
most often found in older LANs.
• Star — Star is the most popular topology used in LANs today. In star networks,
all devices are directly connected to a central point. If one device is disconnected or
crashes, none of the others will be affected.
However, if the central switch goes offline,
the entire network could fail. This makes
it important to build redundancy into the
Network devices can be connected over
wires or wirelessly. Ethernet cabling provides a fast network at a reasonable cost
and is the primary medium for most existing IT infrastructures. Ethernet connections—which resemble phone jacks—are
usually integrated into network cameras
and video servers, making it easy to connect them to the network.
Fast Ethernet is the most common standard used in computer networks today. It
supports a transfer rate of 100 megabits
per second (Mbit/s). Gigabit Ethernet
(1000 Mbit/s) is the current standard endorsed by network equipment vendors and
is used primarily in backbones between
network servers and network switches.
The upcoming standard is 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10,000 Mbit/s), which will soon be
incorporated into network backbones. IP
surveillance systems work with all of these
standards, so as networks become faster,
they will be able to support higher-quality
Another benefit of Ethernet cabling is
Power over Ethernet (PoE), which powers
devices through the network cables. This
eliminates the need to install power outlets
at camera locations and enables a more
continuous power supply.
Sometimes a non-wired solution is beneficial, particularly for buildings where
cable installation will damage the interior,
or where cameras will be regularly moved.
Another common use of wireless technology is to bridge two buildings or sites without expensive and complex ground works.
Wireless LANs are available in a number of
well-defined standards that allow for vendor neutrality. The most common standard
Security Technology & Design /
is 802.11g, which provides higher transfer
rates at greater distances than 802.11a and
New or Existing Network?
With all of these networking options
available, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether to run IP surveillance
on an existing network or to build a new
network dedicated to security and surveillance needs.
Today’s LANs typically offer plentiful
bandwidth, with network switches providing 100 Mbit for each device connected on
the network. Since network cameras can
consume anywhere from 0.1Mbit to 8 Mbit,
some precaution is needed to ensure the
network video system will operate as intended. Depending on the number of cameras and required frame rate, three options
are available:
1. Dedicated Network — Professional
surveillance applications may benefit
from a dedicated network in which the
IP surveillance system has its own dedicated switches that are connected to a
high-capacity backbone (see Figure 1).
Dedicated networks handle video traffic
more efficiently, without slowing down
other general-purpose network applications like voice over IP or file sharing. In
addition, keeping the surveillance network separate and disconnected from
the Internet will make it as secure as—or
more secure than—any local CCTV system. Dedicated networks are preferable
in very sensitive applications, like those
in casinos or airports, and for systems requiring high frame rates and more than
50 cameras.
Figure 1. In a dedicated network,
no other applications run over the
surveillance network
tures. In Figure 3, the router/switch manages the IP addresses, bandwidth and security allocated to users on VLAN A (with
access to video) and VLAN B (general purpose traffic). No matter where users might
physically be, all those on VLAN A will have
access to the video while those on VLAN B
will not.
QoS ensures that bandwidth will be
available for surveillance equipment on the
general-purpose network by setting priority levels for specific ports on a switch. Connections to network cameras and storage
servers can be set at high priority, while
desktops can be set for low priority to ensure that bandwidth is always available for
critical surveillance video. 
Transmitting Data
Figure 2. In a combined network, the IP surveillance network and general-purpose
network operate in parallel.
2. Combination Network — In some
cases, it might make sense to implement a
dedicated IP surveillance network in conjunction with a general-purpose network.
Video can be recorded locally and isolated
to the dedicated network, except when a
viewer on the general-purpose network
wants to access it, or when an event triggers video to be sent to a user on the general-purpose network (see Figure 2). Because
access to video using the general-purpose
network (and the extra load it causes) is
temporary, it makes sense to have the two
networks work in combination.
3. Existing Network — When there is
enough capacity on the network and the
application doesn’t require heavy security, you may simply add network video
equipment onto the existing network. You
can further optimize your network using
technologies such as virtual local area
networks (VLAN) and quality-of-service
(QoS) levels. 
A VLAN uses the existing LAN infrastructure but separates the surveillance network from the general-purpose network.
The router/switch is configured to provide
a range of IP addresses with assigned fea-
Once your network layout is established
and your devices are connected, information will be transmitted over the network.
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet
Protocol (TCP/IP) is the most common way
to transmit all types of data. It is the protocol used for nearly every application that
runs over a network, including the Internet, e-mail and network video systems.
TCP/IP has two parts: TCP breaks data
into packets that are transmitted over the
Internet and reassembled at the destination. IP is the address that enables the
packets to arrive at the correct destination.
For identification and communication purposes, every device on the network needs a
separate IP address.
Network Performance
After the network is set up, it is critical to consider how much information will
Figure 3. The router/switch keeps data from the IP surveillance network separate
from the general network, even though they share a common infrastructure.
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
pass over the network and the contingency
plan if critical components fail.
The amount of bandwidth required is
dictated by the amount of information
passing through your network. In general,
avoid loading a network to more than 50
percent capacity, or you risk of overloading the network. When building a new
network or adding capacity to an existing
network, build in 30 to 40 percent more
capacity than calculated. This will provide flexibility for increasing use in the
future. Bandwidth calculators—available
free on the Internet—will analyze your
bandwidth and recommend an appropriate capacity.
Security Considerations
With the success of the Internet, securing networks has become a mandate. Today
there are several technologies available,
such as virtual private networks (VPNs),
SSL/TSL and firewalls.
A VPN creates a secure tunnel between
points on the network, but it does not secure the data itself. Only devices with the
correct access “key” will be able to work
within the VPN, and network devices between the client and the server will not
be able to access or view the data. With
a VPN, different sites can be connected
together over the Internet in a safe and
secure way.
Another way to accomplish security is
to apply encryption to the data itself. In
this case there is no secure tunnel like the
VPN, but the actual data sent is secured.
There are several encryption techniques
available, like SSL, WEP and WPA. (These
latter two are used in wireless networks.)
When using SSL, also known as HTTPS, a
certificate will be installed in the device or
computer that encrypts the data.
A firewall is designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private
network. Firewalls can be hardware or
software, or a combination of both. All
data entering or leaving the intranet
passes through the firewall, which examines it and blocks data that does not
meet the specified security criteria. For
example, using a firewall, one can make
sure that video terminals are able to access the cameras while communication
from other computers will be blocked.
Some network cameras have built-in IP
address filtering, a basic form of firewall
that only allows communication with
computers that have pre-approved IP
Network video systems can take a number of different forms depending on the requirements of the individual installation.
No matter what form your network takes
or what elements you choose to deploy, it
is important to work with a well recognized
and reliable vendor to ensure all components work well together and you have
maximized the system’s functionality.
Originally published in Security Technology & Design magazine • September 2006
Step #8: Security
Nearly all network video installations
transmit sensitive information that should
be protected from unauthorized users and
potential hackers. There are several ways to
provide security within a wired or wireless
network and between different networks
and clients. Everything from the data to the
use and accessibility of the network should
be controlled and secured.
Today, IP surveillance systems can
be made just as secure as those used by
banks for ATM transactions. Network cameras and video servers are currently being
used in highly sensitive locations such as
the Logan Airport in Boston (see Case in
Point, page 101) and by the largest ferry
terminals in Alaska for homeland security
Secure Transmission
Some of the most common ways to secure communications on a network and
the Internet include authentication, authorization, IP address filtering, VPNs and
Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure
Socket Layer (HTTPS). Some of these
methods secure the data as it travels over
the network, while others secure the network path itself.
Authentication identifies the user to
the network and is most commonly done
by providing verifiable information like a
username and password, and/or by using
an X509 (SSL) certificate.
The 802.1X standard is a new portbased authentication framework available
for even higher levels of security in a both
wired and wireless system. All users’ access
requests are filtered through a central authorization point before access to the network is granted.
During authorization, the system analyzes the authentication information and
verifies that the device is the one it claims
to be by comparing the provided identity
to a database of correct and approved identities. Once the authorization is complete,
the device is fully connected and operational within the network.
IP address filtering is another way to
restrict communication between devices
on a network or the Internet. Network
cameras can be configured to communicate only with computers at pre-determined IP addresses—any computer from
an IP address that is not authorized to
interface with the device will be blocked
from doing so.
Security Technology & Design /
Privacy settings prevent others from using or reading data on the network. There
are a variety of privacy options available,
including encryption, virtual private networks (VPNs) and Secure Socket Layer/
Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS). In
some cases, these settings can slow down
network performance because data has to
be filtered through multiple applications
before it is accessed at its final destination.
This could have a negative impact on the
performance of an IP surveillance installation, which often requires real-time access
to video.
A VPN uses a public infrastructure, such
as the Internet, to provide secure access
to a network from remote locations. A
VPN secures the communication through
security procedures and tunneling protocols like Layer Two Tunneling Protocol
(L2TP), effectively creating a connection
that is just as secure as a privately owned
or leased line. The VPN creates a secure
“tunnel” so that data has to be properly
encrypted before entering the tunnel.
Data that is not properly encrypted cannot enter the tunnel.
SSL/TLS—also known as Hypertext
Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer
Network security measures in a VPN and SSL/TLS encryption system.
(HTTPS)—encrypts the data itself, rather
than the tunnel in which it travels. There
are several different types of encryption,
including SSL, Wireless Equivalent Privacy
(WEP) and WiFi Protected Access (WPA)
for wireless networks. When using SSL, a
digital certificate can be installed from the
server to authenticate the sender. Certificates can be issued locally by the user or
by a third party such as Verisign.
Additional network security can be created with the use of firewalls. Firewall
software normally resides on a server
and protects one network from users on
other networks. The firewall examines
each packet of information and determines whether it should continue on to
its destination or be filtered out. The firewall serves as a gatekeeper, blocking or
restricting traffic between two networks,
such as a video surveillance network and
the Internet.
Wireless Security
Wireless network cameras can create
additional security requirements. Unless
security measures are in place, everyone
with a compatible wireless device in the
network’s range is able to access the network and share services. To better secure
IP surveillance installations with a wireless
component, users should consider using
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi
Protected Access (WPA) encryption.
WEP creates a wireless network that has
comparable security and privacy to a wired
network. It uses keys to prevent people
without the correct key from accessing the
network, which is the security commonly
found in home networks. Data encryption
protects the wireless link so that other
typical local area network security mechanisms—including password protection,
end-to-end encryption, VPNs and authentication—can be put in place.
However, WEP has several flaws that
make it unsuitable for use in a corporate
environment. The standard uses a static
key, making it easy to hack into the network with inexpensive, off-the-shelf software.
For additional protection, wireless IP
surveillance should employ WPA, which
changes the encryption for every frame
transmitted. WPA is considered the base
level of security for corporate wireless networks, but for even higher security, WPA2
should be used. WPA2 uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the best encryption available for wireless networks today.
Protecting System Access
In addition to protecting data, it is critical to control access to the system via a
Web interface or an application housed on
a PC server. Access can be secured with
user names and passwords, which should
be at least six characters long—the longer,
the better. Passwords should also mix lower
and upper cases and use a combination of
numbers and letters. Additionally, tools
like finger scanners and smart cards can be
used to increase security.
Viruses and worms are also major security concerns in IP surveillance systems,
so a virus scanner with up-to-date filters
is recommended. This should be installed
on all computers, and operating systems
should be regularly updated with service
packs and fixes from the manufacturer.
Network cameras and video servers with
read-only memory will also help protect
against viruses and worms—programs that
write themselves into a device’s memory. If
you use network cameras and video servers
with read-only memory, these programs
will not be able to corrupt the devices’ internal operating systems.
Employing the outlined security measures makes an IP surveillance network
secure and allows users the flexibility
of off-site access without the worry that
video will fall into the wrong hands. Understanding and choosing the right security options—such as firewalls, virtual
private networks (VPNs) and password
protection—will eliminate concerns that
an IP surveillance system is open to the
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
Originally published on • 2006
Step #9: Hot Technologies Defining IP
Surveillance: Intelligent Video, Megapixel
Cameras and Immersive Imaging
Network video allows for new capabilities in the surveillance industry that were
not feasible in an analog environment, either because they were impossible to implement, or just too cumbersome. Some of
the hottest new technologies available in a
network video installation are intelligent
video, megapixel cameras, and something
called immersive imaging.
Today, far more video is being recorded
than anyone could ever monitor or search.
Studies from the Sandia National Laboratories, which develops science-based technologies to support U.S. national security,
suggest that personnel can only watch one
monitor for up to 20 minutes before losing focus. Without some form of built-in
algorithm compiling relevant information,
there is simply no way to monitor all the
surveillance cameras in a system - unless
you’ve got an almost unlimited budget.
That’s where video analytics enters the
picture. Intelligent video (IV), the next
big trend in video surveillance, will allow
cameras to monitor events within the field
of view. Advanced network cameras can
have built-in motion detection and event
handling. In addition, more intelligent
algorithms, such as automatic number
plate recognition (a.k.a. license plate recognition) and people counting, are being
integrated into security and surveillance
systems. Network cameras and IV have
important synergies that make the systems
more reliable and effective than those using analog cameras with a digital video recorder (DVR) or other centralized system.
Intelligent Video Defined
Different vendors have referred to IV by
various terms including “actionable intelligence”, “video analytics”, and “intelligent
video”. No matter how it is referred to, IV
turns video into “actionable information,”
which allows users to receive alerts and make
decisions regarding appropriate next steps.
The “intelligence” in IV applications is
actually a mathematical analysis of video
streams. The data can be used in a multitude of ways, many of which are still under
development. The overarching idea is that
the surveillance system itself analyzes the
video and alerts its operator by triggering
an alarm when there is a change to the
appropriate level of activity in the field of
view. IV is not designed to fully replace human analysis. People will still be needed to
assess the entire situation and act accordingly, because human vision is extremely
advanced, and is impossible to replicate
with mathematical algorithms.
IV can be used in numerous capacities,
including object tracking, object counting,
license plate recognition, face recognition
and object identification. For example, the
Boston Police Department has network
cameras monitoring the entryway door to
their own building. The camera follows
each individual as they enter until it gets
enough data points for facial recognition.
The system then automatically compares
this image against an existing database of
outstanding arrest warrants. In this way, if
someone with an outstanding warrant enters the building for any reason - such as to
bail out a friend - the officers know within
minutes whether they should detain the
person longer.
Offering this sort of intelligence in the
video system creates major advantages, the
most central of which is the ability to reduce the workload on staff. The IV system
is never idle. It is constantly on guard, waiting for an impulse to send an alarm or start
recording. There are a number of different
ways to set up an IV surveillance system
and important factors, like image quality
that should be taken in to account.
Surveillance System
Architecture with IV
IV can be incorporated into an existing
surveillance system, or built into the architecture of a new system. There are two different types of network security architectures that utilize network video. Those two
methods are 1) centralized intelligence, in
which all intelligence features and algorithms occur in one location, and 2) distributed intelligence, in which the IV functions occur at dispersed points throughout
the installation.
Centralized intelligence — This is most
common in a system utilizing DVRs to con-
Security Technology & Design /
vert and store video from analog cameras.
In this type of system, all IV algorithms are
housed at the DVR level along with digitization of the video and video management functionality. In this set up, all computing power
is centralized in the DVR, which means the
number of cameras that can be analyzed is
limited, making the system less scalable.
Distributed intelligence - Distributed intelligence can be used in a network video
system using analog or network cameras.
If analog cameras are already installed,
video servers can be added to the system
and used to digitize analog video and run
IV algorithms closer to the camera level.
The processed information is then funneled through a network switch to storage
devices and monitoring stations.
In a network video system the edge devices -- the video servers or the network
cameras themselves -- have built in computing power to run the IV algorithms,
pushing the intelligence all the way to the
periphery of the surveillance system. This
makes the system scale from one to thousands of cameras without over burdening
the centralized recording device, like in
the DVR scenario. It also decreases the
amount of video sent over the network
because the cameras themselves “decide”
when recording is necessary. This in turn
reduces the overall strain on the IT infrastructure by freeing up bandwidth for other
IV and Image Quality
Along with the mathematical algorithms,
image quality is of extreme importance
for the accuracy of the IV system. Without
clear images, the best IV algorithms will
not be able operate accurately. Network
cameras bring an end to the interlaced
scan problems of analog systems utilizing
DVR technology. Interlaced images are
created from two sets of lines that update
alternately. This delay causes a blurring of
the overall image. Network cameras utilize
a newer technology to create images called
progressive scan. Progressive scan captures the entire image at once, so even with
a high degree of object motion, the image
is clear.
Megapixel and Immersive Imaging
Analog video systems are tied to television specifications, meaning the maximum
resolution is 0.4 megapixels when digitized.
Standard digital still cameras available
at retail stores are now 5 megapixels and
1.3 megapixel cameras are built into cell
phones. Network video cameras can also
utilize megapixel technology, which has
some obvious benefits, beyond just getting
a clearer image. Details from megapixel
cameras are more easily recognized in the
image. More details means additional data
points for IV algorithms, which in-turn improves accuracy of the analytics.
Typical DVR system
- centralized
Analog Cameras
Immersive Imaging
Another way to utilize megapixel technology is for what’s being called “immersive imaging”. By using a wide-angle lens
attached to a megapixel camera, the camera can span a much wider field of view
(some camera lenses designs even cover
a full 360 degrees) than normal cameras.
Immersive imaging facilitates digital pan/
tilt/zoom (PTZ). The result is the ability to pan, tilt and zoom in on a field of
view, even though the camera stays put.
Because there are no moving parts, users don’t experience the mechanical wear
and tear that exists in analog PTZ cameras
which must physically move There’s also
a potential gain in speed, since an analog/
mechanical PTZ can be no faster than its
drive motor.
Distributed intelligence, video servers
Important Considerations
IV, megapixel and immersive imaging offer a number of benefits to an existing or
new surveillance system. IV can lower the
total cost of a surveillance system by generating fewer false alarms, and by reducing
the amount of people required to operate
the system. The surveillance system will
alert personnel as appropriate when an unusual event occurs. Megapixel imaging allows for even higher resolutions, which in
turn allow IV algorithms to act even more
To be most effective it is critical to work
with vendors that employ open standards
for the use of IV. This allows the user to
choose the best IV algorithms and applications for their needs without having to
worry about interoperability challenges.
IV, megapixel and immersive imaging remain hot because they will greatly improve
system performance and will continue to
evolve creating even greater user advantages in the coming years. Network video
is a best of breed system, utilizing open
computing platforms and storage systems,
which will result in new hot technologies
on the horizon faster than usual.
Distributed intelligence, network cameras
Security Technology & Design /
Video Surveillance
Originally published on • 2006
Step #10: Best Practices for
IP Surveillance Projects
Today, there are well over a million network cameras and video servers installed
worldwide. These installations range in size
from just a single camera to thousands of
cameras -- and are found in almost every
type of industry application. No matter
the size, every installation benefits from a
simple set of best practices that will ensure
all network video equipment is optimized.
These tips range from basic camera placement and lighting conditions to working
with IT departments and technicians to
figure out issues such as the peak times for
network usage.
Take Inventory
When first installing IP-based surveillance, it is important to take note of any existing inventory. For example, there may be
analog cameras currently installed or the IT
department may have a standardized server
platform in place, such as a certain type of
HP server and Windows operating platform.
Also evaluate the speed of your network and
work with the IT department to determine
how much bandwidth is available or whether network video can be piggybacked onto
other infrastructure, such as that for Voice
over IP (VoIP) applications. Security professionals are often surprised as to how much
equipment their organization already has at
its disposal for an IP-based video system.
Although existing analog cameras can
often be upgraded using video servers, it is
sometimes necessary to make a total migration to network cameras in order to simplify the installation. A large retailer recently
changed its analog closed-circuit television
(CCTV) system to an IP-based system for
about 200 of its stores. Although the company already had some analog cameras in
place, it decided not to digitize them with
video servers. Instead, the retailer switched
everything over to network cameras to sim-
IP Surveillance Cost Structure
Network cameras
NVR Software
Network & Cabling
Servers & Storage
Security Technology & Design /
plify what the IT industry refers to as MACs
-- Moves, Adds and Changes related to IT
equipment. When all hardware is standardized, it limits maintenance, reduces the
need for spare parts, and makes adjustments to the system simpler and more cost
effective. For many installations however,
it is typically not necessary to replace all
analog cameras with network cameras, so
video servers are more viable.
Evaluate Site Conditions
Conditions at the camera locations will
largely determine which type of network
camera should be purchased. Just as with
analog cameras, factors such as placing a network camera in an area with very little light
or exposing it to extreme heat or cold, will
dictate which equipment will work best.
Electrical outlets are another important
consideration. Although it may seem like a
minor consideration, it costs an average of
$300 to install power to a single location.
Today, network cameras are often installed
in areas where power outlets do not exist
-- such as on building exteriors, in parking
lots, or on bridges. In these cases, cameras
with Power over Ethernet (PoE) functionality will be a major time and cost savings
because they can receive power directly
from their network cable connections. The
PoE feature should be in 100 percent accordance with the IEEE 802.3af standard,
otherwise it will lock the buyer into proprietary systems that are likely not compatible with equipment from other vendors.
Determine Camera Usage
In addition to site conditions, camera
usage also dictates the necessary specifications. Network cameras range from
less than $200 for an entry-level model to
professional equipment that functions under a broader range of conditions and offers improved functionality. For example,
a camera that will be used to capture objects moving at high speeds -- such as moving cars -- need a progressive scan sensor
that will reduce blur. Pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ)
will be necessary for looking at objects at
a distance or to set up automatic patrols of
an area. Megapixel cameras provide higher
resolution and help reduce the number of
cameras needed.
Make Friends with IT
Beyond just taking inventory of available
networking equipment, the IT department
can be helpful in making sure that network
video runs smoothly and does not interfere
with other applications. While communicating with people in IT jargon may seem
intimidating at first, it is very important to
build these relationships to ensure that the
integration of security and networking is
smooth. The IT department will have a vast
knowledge base that will ensure an IP-surveillance system is installed properly, but
that will only happen with good collaboration between the two departments.
For example, the IT department will know
whether bandwidth is genuinely a concern.
In most cases, video traffic is only detrimental for older networks. In this case, it will
be time to upgrade the network according
to company protocol. The amount of bandwidth has increased exponentially the last
few years, so standard network ports today
are one gigabit a second, and backbones
are typically 10 gigabits a second or higher.
For these networks, IP-surveillance creates
no bandwidths issue whatsoever. Because
today’s corporate networks are highly regulated, the IT department can also ensure
that Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) and
Quality of Service (QoS) agreements are
supported. If bandwidth is still an issue,
network cameras have enough built-in intelligence that they can be programmed to
only send video based on triggering events
such as motion or time of day.
The IT department can also help establish a
separate network for the video. This does not
require running a separate set of cabling, but
simply segmenting the video traffic from the
rest of the network using a network switch.
The switch routes data to different network
ports and boosts overall performance.
The Eastchester Union Free School District, located in Westchester, N.Y., successfully used network switching to utilize extra
bandwidth from its existing VoIP network.
Select Telecom Inc., the integrator for the
project, worked with the district to set up
virtual local area networks (VLANs) for the
video traffic, separating the voice network
from the video network.
“By piggybacking the video network onto
the voice network, we were able to save significant amounts of time and money,” said
Anita Better, director of information technology for Eastchester. “The cameras are so
bandwidth efficient that the video does not
slow down or degrade the voice network.”
Security will also be a primary concern
for the IT department. Anything that connects to the network opens up the possibil-
Analog/DVR System Cost Structure
Analog cameras
ity of new attacks and security breaches.
Although the Internet regularly transfers
all types of sensitive information, it is necessary to use security safeguards, including
VPNs (virtual private networks), encryption, port-based network access control
(IEEE 802.1X), and password protection.
Manage and Budget the Project
Besides managing equipment and the
relationship with the IT department, it is
essential to select the right systems integrator and understand the cost structure of
an IP-surveillance system. This will help in
establishing -- and sticking to -- a budget
and managing the project roll out.
One of the most important items to ask
a systems integrator is how many other IPbased surveillance systems have they successfully installed. Talk to their customers
and understand whether the integrator embraces new technology, or if the end user had
to push for the latest equipment. Integrators
and consultants who are not familiar with
new technology sometimes over-specify systems, and customers end up with equipment
and functionality they never need.
In terms of budgeting, it is important
to understand that the cost structure of
an IP-surveillance system is quite different from that of a CCTV system. Although
the price of a network camera is usually
higher than that of an analog camera, the
total system cost must be considered in
order to generate a correct comparison.
For example, network cameras include
considerably more functionality than analog cameras, such as built-in digitalization,
image compression and intelligence. IP infrastructure -- including cabling, storage,
and recording -- is also considerably less
expensive than analog infrastructure and
provides more functionality. (See figures 1
and 2 at right, explaining surveillance cost
IP-surveillance is rapidly gaining momentum. However, the technology is still
frequently misunderstood, which can lead
to frustration for security professionals and
IT departments that try to support them.
Following the basic best practices outlined
above can help simplify IP-surveillance
rollouts and ensure that the systems operate as smoothly as possible.
Reprinted with permission from Security Technology & Design magazine and • 2006
Security Technology & Design /
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