We tend to think of VoIP as related to office or home voice systems, but audio intercom and emergency call box systems now use IP-addressable handsets or push-to-talk panels. Similarly, video intercom systems are now available as IP-based solutions with the master station software loaded on a PC.
Wireless networking solutions are everywhere from the hotel lobby to the internet caf‚, and now on board your favorite airplane. While these systems stress the mobility of the user, the more common application in security is to bridge a road or a paved area, such as a parking lot, where trenching would be impractical.
As long as power is available in some form (e.g., lighting pole, solar panel, wind turbine, battery) data transmission for access, audio and video is easy to achieve; however, special consideration needs to be given to the security of the data being transmitted, for example encryption, since signal interception is not difficult.
Command and Control
IP technology offers many benefits and its (almost) plug-and-play nature simplifies some aspects its installation and maintenance. However, the addition of IP security devices to an existing network requires negotiation with those responsible for the network - the IT staff. Their agenda may be very different from that of security and their standard operating procedures usually add some overhead costs to a project. They will want to ensure adequate firewalls and both machine hardware and operating system (OS) compatibility with their standards.
Some IT staff view security as a simple add-on to their responsibilities an believe that they can buy components and devices on-line and install them themselves. However, they may lack the skill-set and experience to understand the applications and features required for optimum performance. For example, it is possible to buy a box of eight IP cameras and a DVR online for less than $1,000, but the image quality is poor and the IT person often does not know where to mount the camera to avoid contrast problems.
It is the security department's responsibility to acquire the skill-set needed to understand the new technology, discuss with IT those features that IT controls and coordinate implementation of the IP project such that security standards are adhered to and security maintains ownership of the application.
David G. Aggleton, CPP, CSC, is president and principal consultant of Aggleton & Associates, Inc., located on New York. He has been practicing in the security system design and implementation field for over 30 years and for more than 500 projects. Most current projects include networked security devices. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org