A Tale of Three Cities
- By Fredrik Nilsson
- Feb 01, 2012
Salvaging the existing investment in coax cabling
is often the number-one reason surveillance users
are reluctant to switch to network video. The perceived
cost of storage is a close second.
Fortunately, Moore’s Law—the one coined by
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that states the number of
transistors on a certain size chip doubles every 18 months—
also seems to hold true for storage capacity and is a “planned
innovation” that will naturally bring down the total cost of an
IP-based system. But there also is true innovation in camera
and storage technologies that has tipped the scales in favor of
network video for any size installation.
This is a tale of three separate cities that all went IP yet
chose a different storage path for their specific needs.
Oswego County: PC-based Storage Sells Itself
Nestled in upstate New York near Lake Ontario, Oswego County
sought an innovative surveillance solution to help protect its
residents and employees as well as county properties and assets
spread across 1,300 square miles. The county had no existing
surveillance system in place, apart from a few disparate analog
CCTV systems installed throughout different departments.
Oswego’s surveillance needs mirrored those of many cities:
to fight vandalism, secure public works facilities, protect expensive
maintenance equipment and fortify its local prison. It
also required the ability to monitor video 24 hours a day while
allowing access to the local and state police.
The county already had a combination wired and wireless
infrastructure in place for its telecommunications systems,
which fortunately had excess capacity. Planners had tested the
cameras and selected those that met their needs. Storage was
the final piece of the puzzle.
Integrator partner Cedar Path Solutions Group, the eventual
RFP winner based in East Syracuse, N.Y., introduced the
county to simple, off-the-shelf, PC-based storage and recommended
a server-class HP machine at the head-end that communicates
with PC archivers at remote sites throughout
“We currently have more than 100 Axis network
cameras—with about 50 more to be installed in
phase two—that are controlled by Genetec VMS
software and stored for 30 days,” said Michael
Klapheke, a consulting engineer for Cedar Path
Solutions. “Scalability was a major need for the
county, and this proposed system proved far
less expensive than the other storage options.”
With the PC archivers spread out in different
facilities across the county, Oswego can record
at the highest desired frame rates, while
viewing live, at more moderate rates to save
on bandwidth. They also appreciate the fact that the county is
mostly standardized on one platform that’s easy to train and
understand for new employees.
City of Garland: Powering Up an Appliance Model
You could say that the city of Garland, Texas, holds a unique
power over its residents. Since 1923, the city has provided electric
services through its locally owned, not-for-profit municipal
utility, Garland Power & Light. With more than 68,000 customers,
GP&L is one of the largest municipal utilities in the nation.
As a vital infrastructure and facilities grid, GP&L had a history
with analog surveillance systems. However, with three gasfired
generating plants, 23 substations, 133 miles of transmission
lines, and more than 2,000 miles of additional third-party
partner lines to protect, analog technology could no longer
meet GP&L’s ever-expanding surveillance needs.
The challenge: expand coverage, improve image quality
with megapixel and HDTV network cameras, and integrate
multiple existing camera technologies while extending video
Preferred Technology Solutions, a systems integrator based
in Richardson, Texas, proposed an Intransa storage platform
to integrate new Axis network cameras into the existing surveillance
system, which would be controlled by the Milestone
XProtect Enterprise video management system.
The installed solution was highlighted by a fault-resistant
platform that delivered advanced RAID protection. This feature
eliminated the risk of lost video and enables GP&L to hotswap
disk drives and power supplies as needed without forcing
scheduled downtime. This 99.999 percent availability of video
storage is essential for any critical infrastructure system.
Increased storage policy also was a bonus of selecting this
modular recording-and-playback platform—all without affecting
data capacity with a 300-plus camera system.
“Because of the design of the Intransa system, we have been
able to meet the bandwidth requirements of large numbers of
cameras recording continuously,” said GP&L’s David Grubbs.
“Now we have a vast storage capability to meet our storage
requirements for up to 90 days of recorded video.”
Like the Oswego PC-based system, GP&L’s surveillance solution
can be extended to meet future requirements, albeit with
the slightly higher capacity required by a critical surveillance
application where video must be stored for longer time periods.
Iowa City: A Gracious Host
Downtown Iowa City, which sits on the outskirts of the University
of Iowa, is a quaint, family-friendly metropolis known
for specialty stores, upscale dining and thriving local businesses.
But with 70,000 residents, including an influx of college
students during the school year, the city needed to preserve the characteristics of the downtown district
while increasing safety and deterring
crime, particularly at night.
After identifying the most important
needs of the city, the Downtown
Association of Iowa City (DTA), led
by Executive Director Nick Arnold,
determined that high-image quality, remote
accessibility and ability to share
live and recorded video with local police
was essential. IP video was the clear
choice. But, like other cities and business
associations, DTA had both limited
network infrastructure and limited
budget to spend on a new system. “We
had to get creative,” Arnold said.
Iowa-based integrator PhySecure
understood the city’s limitations but
chose to concentrate on the assets that
were already in place—namely, the local
businesses’ personal Internet network.
This paved the way for a hosted video
DTA approached local businesses
and inquired if they would be open to
a shared city-wide surveillance system.
Since the business owners had been
feeling some of the strain of vandalism
and increasing petty crime, they saw the
long-lasting benefits of allowing DTA
to piggyback on their individual ISP
networks to stream video to the cloud,
hosted by Secure-i.
“With a limited budget and not having
a city-wide infrastructure in place,
we couldn’t have implemented a highquality
IP system without a hosted
model,” said Patrick Gordon, PhySecure
president. “Using a hosted video
solution has cost a fraction of the traditional
and we were able to almost immediately
make available the monitoring of several
By storing video in the cloud, the
city eliminated the need for serverbased
onsite storage. Some of the business
sites do, however, leverage lowcost,
high-capacity network attached
storage (NAS) devices that are available
off the shelf. This provides Iowa City
with redundant storage and the ability
to record HDTV-quality video onsite
while a second, lower-frame rate, lowerresolution
feed streams to the cloud.
Authorized users throughout the
city can view real-time images via a
password-protected Web portal that
can be accessed through any Internetconnected
device. Local police also use
the cameras to monitor high-traffic
times of the day and night.
The city currently deploys nine outdoor-
ready and vandal-resistant fixed
dome network cameras and has the
ability to expand by one or many cameras
at a time as needed.
Making IP Fit: All About Needs
IP-based video is expected to account
for half of security installations by
2014 (IMS Research). With the storage
options available across the spectrum,
IP should be considered for nearly every
IP is everywhere, but because no
two installations are alike, it’s all about
choosing the right solution that fits the
end user’s needs.
This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Security Today.