Thermal cameras offer different approaches to networks
Modern security networks are a complex collection
of thermal cameras, CCTV cameras,
fence sensors, video management devices and
myriad other technologies. Most of these network elements
are made by different suppliers who have given
little, if any, thought to how all these components will
communicate together to offer an integrated solution.
Getting unrelated equipment to work together can be an
Today’s thermal security cameras offer a different
approach, with the creation of intelligent sensor
networks. Unlike a typical network, where cameras,
sensors and peripherals communicate with a central
server, in an intelligent sensor network, each component
handles its own communication with other
The backbone of this revolution is Nexus middleware.
This technology is embedded in all of the latest
thermal cameras from FLIR Systems. Nexus brings connectivity
technology, not just cameras, to the entirety of
a modern security network. Thermal cameras are no
longer just physical devices but smart sources of information
that interact with other sensors.
Nexus adds connectivity, compatibility and capabilities
to thermal cameras and to any other sensor or
appliance in a security system.
Nexus improves a device’s connectivity following an
open architecture approach. Sensors that include Nexus
do not use proprietary communications protocols.
Rather, they include tools that are compatible with a vast
array of pre-existing communications standards. These
standards include plug-and-play protocols for discovery
from Linux or Windows clients, Web standards for
remote configuration and firmware uploads, video standards
like MPEG-4 video streaming and interfaces to
video management solutions.
Nexus technology makes any FLIR camera, or other
third-party sensor or device, plug-and-play compatible
between each other and with security management systems.
In effect, it’s like building intelligence into each
element in your network, be it a camera or any other
device managed by a Nexus server. This distributed
architecture-based network environment is more efficient,
reliable and effective than having a wide disparity
of sensors and systems that depend on one central
server for communication between themselves and
with network clients.
Intelligent sensor networks, like those based on Nexus
middleware, make everything plug-and-play compatible.
For instance, thermal security cameras can be
made to interact with a variety of other sensors like
CCTV cameras, nDVRs, video analytics, radars and
fence sensors. They also can work seamlessly with
third-party devices like video management solutions,
recorders and displays.
Such a high level of compatibility also allows security
managers to upgrade existing networks with the latest
cameras and sensors. This seamless integration into legacy
networks includes standard CCTV interfaces and communications
protocols like Pelco.
Nexus also helps security managers easily handle
issues with sensor obsolescence, as the cost and downtime
required for changes and upgrades are eliminated.
A final benefit of the compatibility possible with
this innovative intelligent sensor network approach is
drastically simplified operation. Because the camera or
sensor contains up-to-date drivers, cameras and sensors
of differing generations and of unique manufacturers
can have a common user interface. This reduces training
costs and helps with adoption of a unified security system
architecture within wide corporate environments,
allowing clients to choose state-of-the-art sensor
devices for each location and developing a common
user interface on top of it.
Sensors and cameras integrated within a Nexus environment
have value added beyond the capability of the camera
or sensor itself. They become “smart” sensors that
collaborate to create an intelligent sensors network.
Sensor and camera elements within a Nexus environment
can be individually geo-referenced so each camera
or sensor knows its location. Each camera or sensor is
able to accurately geo-locate targets in latitude and longitude
coordinates independently. These smart sensors
do not need an extra centralized server to store this information
or to perform the geo-location calculations.
An ISN environment operates with multiple user
control sensors. Cameras and sensors have a token
mechanism managed by each network element so they
can be shared by multiple users in a coordinated way.
Like those operating within a Nexus environment, ISN
reduces the integration and development costs
incurred when setting up new networks or expanding
legacy networks. Because sensor integration is plugand-
play, operating in a Nexus environment obviates
the need for proprietary software development, maintenance
Taking all of these pieces together, Nexus networks
take complicated, expensive network elements and make
them easier to use, more effective and less expensive in
the long run.
Software that can be embedded to make cameras and
other sensors smarter is the wave of the future. The complexity
of modern security networks, let alone that of their
individual components, makes the establishment or modification
of even the most uncomplicated network a complex
undertaking. The lack of an industry-wide standard
for communication between network elements of different
natures only serves to further complicate the issue.
Intelligent sensor networks, like those enabled by
Nexus middleware, address all of these problems. Nexus
makes every network element’s software—whether from
thermal and CCTV cameras, radars, fence sensors or video
compatible, regardless of manufacturer
or generation, and easier to maintain,
upgrade and operate
This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Security Today.