The Value of IP Surveillance

Intelligent network-based video surveillance technology delivers value not just to the security department, but potentially — through open architecture connectivity — to every business operation and to the bottom line.

Today’s intelligent IP video cameras offer attributes including multiple megapixels of resolution. These cameras are the “edge devices” on a digital network that take advantage of all the standards and functionality of the same advanced networking technologies that drive the giant IT industry. Cable costs are lowered by the use of Cat-5 unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable instead of coax. With networked video, there is remote access anywhere, anytime. Non-proprietary hardware is easily accommodated, and computer technologies such as distributed recording servers and networked storage increase capabilities far beyond those of yesterday’s VCRs and multiplexers.

Benefits of using a robust networking infrastructure not only include lowering cabling costs but the possibility of using Power over Ethernet (PoE) and even wireless cameras. By supplying power for the camera along the same cable that provides network connectivity, PoE simplifies installation and makes it possible for cameras to be located even where there is no supply of power, thus boosting flexibility of camera location. Wireless cameras communicate via radio waves over wireless data networks, so cameras can be located across a wide geographic area, such as a campus setting or even a city, without expensive additional cable runs. Wireless connectivity also provides for immediate deployment for emergency response.

The combination of Internet Protocol with the latest video client devices — whether a desktop, hand-held device, the Internet/wide area network, or a command center video wall — truly makes remote access available anywhere, anytime.

Best-of-breed integration and open architecture also enable the incorporation of external software/devices such as enterprise systems, access control, point-of-sale and transaction systems, contact closure, Active Directory support, ASCII general events, OPC Data Protocol support and APIs/SDKs for software partners.

With IP technology-based video systems, there is no limit to the number of sites and cameras per system. Distributed processing and the capability to operate on multiple networks and network segments serve to eliminate limitations on scalability. The system size is now limited by the number of human operators needed to process tremendous amounts of data, making it almost imperative to include video intelligence (analytics) in a large system.

As impressive as the technology developments are related to IP-based intelligent video surveillance, the real power of such a system is in the game-changing functionality made possible by these technologies. The security and enterprise-wide benefits of such a system are truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Intelligent video systems are configured — according to rules-based identification of alerts — to deliver video only when there is an event. For example, digital integration with other systems such as physical security systems enables users to call up video to verify an alarm. With intelligent video, fewer operators can provide better security. Powerful investigative tools enable an operator to quickly access video or recorded events and get a clear, high-resolution picture. Advanced megapixel cameras expand capabilities, whether it is digital pan/tilt/zoom of live or recorded images, or optical PTZ and PTZ patrolling (with motion detectors or patrol presets). A graphical timeline can indicate when there was an event or no event, and “slices” of time can be reviewed to see clearly exactly what happened.

Making these tools even more valuable is the ability to send the video where it is needed. Event-driven push video gets the information to those who need it. Operators share event handling at various locations; all operators have access to the same alerts list and can review, add remarks and information or export clips for evidence.

Digital video systems save money by using non-proprietary off-the-shelf hardware, and by using efficient digital storage. In addition to eliminating expensive coax cable, IP networks use existing cabling and/or a network tree topology instead of every camera having a home run cable back to the recorder.

Cost savings also grow out of the increasing system efficiency using intelligent video analytics, which filter events and enable fewer operators to provide enhanced security. Better detection enables immediate response. Finally, lower maintenance and equipment costs contribute to an overall lower cost of ownership.

What’s more, today’s video surveillance systems can have an enterprise-wide impact. There are applications for marketing and merchandising, maintenance, process control and more. Insurance costs and liability exposure can be reduced. Additionally, it is possible to integrate multiple physical security applications such as access control, video surveillance, visitor management and alarm/fire safety systems, with the end-result being a much more manageable system.

When technology ties the expansive capabilities of digital video together with a user-friendly, human-intuitive interface, then the immense value of the technology can be unleashed for today’s businesses.

Gadi Piran is president and CTO of On-Net Surveillance Systems (OnSSI).