Navigating the Technology Landscape
- By Steve Malia
- Aug 14, 2013
In real estate, it is said the three most important things to consider are – location, location and location. In video surveillance, my experience tells me the three most important things to consider are – technology, technology and technology. Today’s network video surveillance and security systems continue to evolve far beyond earlier closed-circuit television security systems in design, installation, maintenance and capability. For that reason, technology expertise is crucial in order to maximize and protect your security system investments over the long term.
Attending trade shows to see demonstrations of the newest technology, participating in seminars or other learning opportunities, becoming involved in industry associations and conferring with industry peers are all recommended ways to help you navigate the technology landscape. That being said, evaluating a controlled demonstration being staged at an event does not always depict the reality of an actual working environment or installation. This is why it is always wise to partner with an experienced integrator.
The latest technology developments, like the deployment of megapixel cameras for greater resolution, more intelligence inside IP cameras and greater capabilities to integrate multiple IP systems on a centralized network platform, benefit the end user in a variety of ways – but only if they are applied intelligently. An integrator’s knowledge and understanding of video and IT technology can help protect the value of your investment and ensure ongoing satisfaction with the system.
Megapixel Camera Technology
Megapixel cameras offer extremely high resolution and details that provide a number of advantages. For example, in the gaming marketplace this is useful for video forensics and analysis, or when viewing gaming activities such as bets made and chip, cash and card values played, along with the outcome of each game of chance. These cameras can also cover a broader viewing range than comparably-situated, lensed, non-megapixel cameras.
Gaming regulations, however, require that many of the cameras in a casino be recorded at 30 frames per second, but due to technological limitations, the higher the recording frame rate, the lower the resolution of the camera. The proper balance of the speed of the image capture and the resolution of the captured images needs to be clearly defined at the onset of a project. This will help ensure that the user achieves their security objectives.
This is where an experienced and knowledgeable system integrator demonstrates their value; they must have the capability to design a system that optimizes use of the most current technologies available while meeting regulations and budgets, and providing greatly-improved system performance where it is most meaningful.
System Design and Operation
The freedom in system design made possible by the open architecture of today’s video surveillance systems has moved the industry away from proprietary, end-to-end solutions and towards best-of-breed systems that theoretically deliver lower costs and higher functionality.
Video management systems (VMS) can further improve operational efficiencies via open architecture through centralized control of the network, cameras and storage systems and integration with other systems, such as digital I/O devices. However, you should be aware that manufacturers’ product firmware and VMS software are periodically updated with new technology or service packs – which can cause problems for interoperability. Without oversight to ensure that all system components continue to interoperate seamlessly, even as upgrades are implemented, your system integration may be adversely impacted.
Here again is where an experienced integrator can offer tremendous value. While your in-house staff may have the capability to implement any necessary fixes, administrating updates can be a full-time job. Each upgrade project requires identification, testing, validation, maintenance and third-party support, and may have compliance-related requirements as well. Your integrator, who likely designed and installed the system, is far better positioned to address these tasks. Their in-depth knowledge of the various components and network infrastructure offers a single point of management and control for implementing any changes and ensuring maximum system efficiency through any updates.
The proliferation and lower cost of IP bandwidth and storage has made video surveillance on the network easier and more affordable to a wider range of end users. For many who have legacy analog systems in place, utilizing new IP-over-coax technology is a highly cost-efficient route to implement a network video surveillance system without the need to rip and replace cabling.
As useful as this technology is, video surveillance can be a high bandwidth application and, in an ideal world, would utilize a dedicated network that is both robust and easily managed. This would include separate paths for recording and viewing as well as dedicated storage area networks (SANs) and/or IP subnets to enable scalability.
Working with security and IT management, a skilled system integrator will take all aspects into consideration to design, implement and service a sustainable security system that fits with the client strategy and delivers ROI (return on investment). By partnering with a knowledgeable and experienced integrator, you can navigate the complex landscape of new technologies to maximize the performance of your video surveillance system.
Steve Malia is the vice president, engineering services at North American Video.