With advancements in both networking and security technology and the cost of access to the Internet coming down, it has become more affordable to make centralized surveillance monitoring and investigations a reality. As the security industry continues to shift to IP, many believe that any IP-based system can be used to centralize these monitoring and investigation activities; however, this is a common misconception.
So, what functionalities should you look for when you purchase an IP system with remote operations in mind? Before we tackle this question, let’s first explore some scenarios and the associated benefits of centralizing your activities.
Remote Operations: The Benefits
Although having a security guard at each location may still be a necessity, a well-trained security team monitoring an entire organization can complement or replace this approach. Centralizing your security monitoring — especially after normal operating hours — can potentially increase efficiency and contribute to additional cost-savings.
Take the example of a bank that has branches worldwide and one global headquarters. A security system that provides access control as well as video surveillance is installed both at the branch level and at its headquarters. Protection is needed locally, so each branch has its own independent system. That being said, implementing a security system with remote operations enables monitoring of the local sites (the branches) in one central location (headquarters).
Both access control events and live and recorded video can be viewed from the central location. A central user can search for recorded video and access control events and alerts across all branches from one single location.
For example, all door forced open events for the entire organization can be found with a single search. Similarly, video associated to alarms from any branch can be retrieved and reviewed from headquarters in one easy search. Operators can even search all activities for a cardholder name and see all the branches he or she visited during the time period.
A city-wide surveillance application will also greatly benefit from the use of a centralized monitoring and investigation system. The police department may want to monitor cameras or access from specific sites such as an airport, government buildings and more. Live monitoring in this case will provide greater efficiency in response to emergency situations.
Different organizations, using the same system, could also share information for the benefit of greater security. In this case, the remote operation will offer more information to law enforcement agencies, while letting the local sites control what will be shared.
Both of these examples share distributed installation and configuration. If a local site is unavailable, central users will only lose connectivity to that site. If the WAN (wide area network) is not accessible, local users can still connect to the local sites independently.
Choosing The Right Platform
Given that remote systems tend to be more complex than your average security system installation, there are certain functionalities that one should look for. The following is a list that will help any organization make the right choice:
1. Multistreaming: This technology enables an IP video source to produce multiple video streams from the same camera at different levels of video quality. It can be used to optimize network usage on a WAN. Take a theft- or vandalism-related investigation taking place at the central site as an example. Unfortunately, bandwidth between sites is usually quite expensive and therefore limited. A remote security system should take advantage of multistreaming to record and view video locally at a higher quality, while transmitting a lower quality live stream to the central site.