Getting Down to Bandwidth
While establishing credibility is an important first step, the next thing on the table will be bandwidth requirements. How much network space does the security application need? That's almost always the primary concern for IT folks, since they must ensure they have enough space on the network to run mission-critical systems along with various support functions.
Transmitting surveillance video over the company network or Internet, for instance, requires a significant amount of bandwidth. Despite this drawback, many companies are anxious to use this technology because of its advantages over analog systems. One of the most tantalizing is the ability to monitor the video remotely. How can security use IP video without bogging down the corporate network?
One alternative just beginning to surface, according to integrators, is the creation of standalone IP networks that are just for security. “This is where you use the same kind of equipment, same standards of wiring, same kind of wiring, but you don't use (the regular corporate network) bandwidth,” said Coleman. “You provide a parallel network that is isolated from enterprise computing functions.
“Lots of times the IT folks already have spare wiring, and it's just a matter of having separate routers and separate switches. Other times, the security integrator puts in the separate system that just takes care of the needs of security, and IT doesn't concern itself with it, although that's probably less often.”
While separate pipelines are starting to turn up for physical security functions, many times getting adequate network space comes down to the fine art of negotiation.
“Sometimes it's just a process of education, where you assuage anxieties,” Coleman said.
Wilson added, “You tell them all the space requirements. You look at ways you can avoid stepping on each other's needs. For instance, you can consider things like sending out smaller packets of data (for IP video) during peak activity periods. Then if you really need to pull out more data, those things can happen during lower network activity periods. It's those kinds of negotiations that will help everyone come to agreement.”
Voice Over Internet Protocol
To help reduce operational costs, companies are beginning to adopt Voice over Internet Protocol, which runs data and voice transmissions on the same network. In the security industry, this tool is still in its infancy, but it's beginning to generate some interest because of its usefulness in various security situations.
“It really makes sense as a natural progression,” Wilson said. “People start out wanting to put in a secure portal—a card reader or access control point. Then, they think, ‘Wow, wouldn't it be nice if I could see who's coming, rather than just identifying people through an access card number?' That's the stage that you get into video surveillance. The next iteration would be audio. That way they can communicate with someone who's trying to access the building. The security person could be on the west coast, allowing after-hours access through voice interaction with someone on the east coast or halfway around the world. By having audio on an IP platform, it becomes a much wider, broader application.”
Whether VolP will become widespread in the security industry remains to be seen. “It's still pretty early in the game, just a few manufacturers are putting it out there,” Wilson said.
In terms of IT department concerns, voice transmission has lower bandwidth requirements than video. “That means there is less push back from IT on voice over IP,” Coleman said.