Getting the Network Ready
Terrorism, crime fuel growth of CCTV surveillance market
- By Pat Lathouris
- May 01, 2011
Basic CCTV monitoring consists of video cameras transmitting a signal
to a specific place -- though not as openly as with broadcast television
signals -- where the images appear on a set of monitors. With fears of
terrorism and crime growing in the 1990s and 2000s, private and business use of
CCTV surveillance has rapidly taken off and evolved.
Networked IP cameras represent a growing segment of video surveillance. IP
CCTV cameras use IP procedures along with a software package to communicate
digital images over the Internet, across data networks such as LANs, within
a building and WANS worldwide. IP allows users to view their cameras from
anywhere the network connection is available through a computer or a wireless
IP cameras also have the ability to operate without an additional power supply,
using PoE, which supplies power to the camera via the Ethernet cable used to
connect the network.
A networked DVR provides video recording, processed at the DVR, with a
variety of performance options and features such as motion detection and e-mail
alerts. NVRs are similar to DVRs, but the video is processed within the IP camera
and streamed through NVR software for remote viewing and storage. Hybrid
DVRs incorporate functions of both an NVR and a DVR so that IP cameras and
analog cameras can operate in the same networked system.
IP cameras have a resolution of at least 640x480 and can provide multi-megapixel
performance from 1.3 to 10 megapixels. The difference in image quality
between analog and IP cameras is clearly visible. As the video image is uncompressed,
the high resolution gives the user better image quality. Operators can use
megapixel IP cameras to zoom in on a small, faraway object and see it in crystal-clear
detail, whether it’s on live or recorded video. This is not possible with standard
analog cameras. The H.264 video compression standard used in networked
cameras significantly reduces network bandwidth and storage requirements of
IP cameras, DVRs, NVRs and servers can be used with existing networks,
eliminating the use of independent cables. Because the system network is more efficient,
a standard PC or server connected to the Internet can be used to house the
main central client software and store and back up all recorded video.
An added benefit of network IP video surveillance is the ability to view realtime
video and play back recorded video securely over the Internet, making it
viewable from anywhere in the world.
Why is Networked Video Necessary?
Life safety is a concern in businesses and communities all over the world. Integrated
systems using networked cameras give users sophisticated tools to respond
more quickly to adverse events.
For example, video analytics incorporated in IP surveillance software simplifies
live view, recording and search processes by automating them. It provides an
additional way to detect abnormal behaviors, such as an intruder walking into a
restricted area or leaving a package behind in an airport terminal.
Networked video, along with emergency notifications, is becoming an integral
part of prevention, early warning and readiness programs, and will continue to
grow rapidly as we move into the next decade.
What Are the Advantages?
Networked systems require fewer cameras,
less cabling and wiring and installation
costs. Megapixel IP cameras
cover a wider area than analog cameras,
so fewer cameras are required to
cover the same area, and they produce
higher-quality images. Networked systems
use less cabling because of this,
and PoE eliminates the need for local
IP cameras, featuring high-definition
megapixel performance, provide
clearly detailed images. This makes for
video capture and analysis that better
aids in law enforcement and criminal
investigations, whether the application
involves reading license plates on highways
or monitoring one’s home via an
Internet video feed.
Does it Require Technical Support?
Integration of IP cameras with an organization’s
existing IT infrastructure and
network is becoming more desirable,
making an IP manufacturer’s role in
customer service more than just repair.
The most difficult technical support
task is walking an installer through a
The vendor has to deliver technical
support at a higher level, starting with
remote access and network configuration.
Customer satisfaction is not just
about the product anymore. The quality
of the vendor’s troubleshooting support
also is crucial.
When configuring an IP video installation
into an existing network, the
integrator has to consider how much
of the customer’s bandwidth is available
for the system’s use and what it can
handle in the future. A manufacturer’s
technical support team may be asked
for advice on which IP cameras are best
for a specific network situation. The
integrator must also analyze the network’s
backbone. For example: Is the
network run over fiber-optic cable, or is
it Cat-5e or Cat-6? This will help determine
if standard or megapixel resolution
can be used as well as how many
IP cameras can be installed now and in
Bandwidth plays an important role
in configuring an IP video system, especially
when dealing with existing
network infrastructure. Until recently,
network infrastructures for many commercial
buildings were designed for
data transmission only. Most existing
networks have servers, client PCs,
printers and VoIP, and may already
be at the 20-percent-below-bandwidth
standard. This means the network has a
20 percent buffer so that when the data
load gets heavier at certain times of
the day, it will not crash the system. If
the existing network does not meet the
customer’s surveillance needs, the integrator
could create a parallel network.
Communication among manufacturer,
integrator and end user is key, ensuring
the job is specified and installed to meet
end user requirements.
This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue of Security Today.