The Smarter Solution

Power, data carried over single Ethernet cable

Power over Ethernet technology is poised to revolutionize security system design with its innovative, efficient, cost-effective, interoperable and upgradeable power solutions.

PoE allows power and data to be carried over a single Ethernet cable. The technology was initially employed to power VoIP phones during power failures. With the ratification of the higher power IEEE802.3at standard, also known as PoE Plus, and the new Ultra-PoE, the technology is now the smartest solution for powering sophisticated surveillance cameras equipped with features like tilt and zoom and on-board heaters and illuminators, while also providing the opportunity to converge all necessary security systems on the same network for ultimate security coverage and management.

New Capabilities
The new power standards have enabled PoE to supply reliable, uninterrupted power to critical security devices, including clusters of PoE- and non-PoE-enabled video surveillance cameras, access control systems, CCTV, badge readers, RFID scanners, special-purpose radios, motion and heat sensors, fire detectors, biometric identification devices and surveillance-camera accessories, including heaters, microphones and illuminators.

The ability to back up these systems onto one network offers a number of advantages, the primary one being the ability to monitor and maintain the operation of all security systems when the power goes out. The PoE power solution also is cost effective, as installation can be completed using interoperable off-the-shelf switches and midspans that do not require expensive professional installation and that support a variety of plug-and-play equipment. Midspans enable networks to be flexible and upgradeable, allowing users to add devices, which keeps enhancement costs down.

Additional Benefits
For many businesses, PoE is the single most cost-effective way to install and network security systems. AC outlets are not always available, especially for the use of surveillance cameras, and the cost to wire and install additional AC outlets can be high.

With PoE and midspans, security devices can be powered through the same Ethernet cabling infrastructure that transmits surveillance data. Using PoE to power security systems not only saves businesses money on installation and system upgrades but also provides them with detailed power consumption information via simple network management protocol and remote management, which are standard on a number of high-quality midspans.

In addition to cost effectiveness, PoE technology provides simple implementation, interoperable, flexible design and near-unmatched reliability. Because it doesn’t require professional installation, PoE can be implemented using off-the-shelf materials. Installation and implementation can be achieved quicker than with AC power wiring.

Additionally, most PoE products are fully interoperable and will integrate seamlessly into existing networks, enabling dual-use of the pre-installed Ethernet cabling. The non-restrictive nature of PoE allows security devices to be positioned where they are most needed versus where an outlet exists or could be placed.

Networks using PoE also offer flexible system designs that are able to meet the needs of any business, regardless of size or security needs. The advanced features of PoE midspans simplify the ongoing maintenance of the security network, which helps to ensure reliable, continuous security system operation. PoE is further enhanced due to the fact that power is delivered to security devices from a common, pre-existing source, which eliminates the ground loops and power disruptions that come standard with AC power.

Security-specific Solutions
Remote management via PoE also provides securityspecific solutions. A number of PoE midspans are SNMP-enabled for use in managed networks. SNMP is especially critical to security operations because it allows network administrators to remotely manage, monitor, troubleshoot, diagnose and reset any of the devices on a security network, as well as monitor total system power consumption. Alerts to changes in the status or power consumption of network devices are immediately transmitted to the network administrator, which enables the administrator to remotely reinstate the proper status of individual or system-wide devices.

With SNMP, the network administrator also can remotely adjust surveillance camera positions to accommodate special security needs or to better investigate and document a perceived threat. Surveillance cameras running off AC power require manual adjustments to accommodate such security needs. SNMP also allows for easy, centralized monitoring of multi-building installations and remote locations.

Additionally, PoE provides protection for networked security devices and simplifies uninterruptable power supply backup to maintain consistent security coverage. PoE midspans offer line detection, a feature that protects expensive and critical security devices against overloads and short circuits. PoE also can provide uninterrupted power backup that is able to serve the entire security network via a single, easily implementable UPS on the Ethernet switch. Security devices that rely on AC power typically employ battery back-up power, which often proves insufficient for maintaining critical security components.

The simplest and most affordable solution is the most effective and practical option. PoE is clearly a superior power-sourcing option for security networks of all sizes due to cost-effectiveness, reliability and ease of implementation.

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Security Today.

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