How Green Is Your Security?

Choosing the most eco-friendly surveillance solution


Everyone nowadays talks about going green, becoming sustainable and environmentally friendly. Major retailers like Wal-Mart are touting eco-friendly products on their shelves. Automobile manufacturers like Toyota are changing the transportation landscape with more fuel-efficient cars. Computer manufacturers like Apple are promoting laptops with more recyclable components and lower carbon footprints. So how can the security industry do its part in reducing the environmental impact of the systems it uses to protect people and property?
Actually, there are a number of steps that can be taken to make security and surveillance systems greener. The key is resource consumption. Being green is all about using fewer raw materials and expending less energy. Here are a few ideas worth considering:

Select Greener Cameras
When making the choice between analog and network cameras, consider that network cameras deliver more functionality than their analog counterparts but generally use the same amount of energy to operate. Built-in analytic features such as motion detection, higher resolution and two-way audio functions eliminate the need to install and maintain separate, energy-consuming systems to augment surveillance coverage. These added features might also reduce the overall number of cameras needed for the installation.
How much power the network camera actually consumes depends on the chips that drive the camera. ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) chips tend to be smaller in size and consume less power than general-purpose processors and DSPs (digital signal processors). Be aware that some cameras use co-processors, which not only consume more power, but also use more raw materials in their production.
Another point to consider when selecting a camera is how the unit is packaged for shipment. How many boxes does the vendor nest inside the outer container? Is the material recyclable or biodegradable, or will it sit in a landfill for generations to come? Often, if you buy multiple cameras in a bulk pack, much less packaging will be used than if you bought each camera individually.

Selecting Greener Cabling
When making the choice between coax and Ethernet cable, consider that coax uses more material per foot of cable, something you can easily tell by simply weighing the cable or trying to carry 100 feet of it. Furthermore, an Ethernet cable does the work of multiple power and communication cables because it not only powers the camera, it transmits the video and audio, as well as I/O commands to and from the camera. In a coax analog environment, you would need a separate cable for each function. And with the new 802.11at Ethernet standard, even a network pan/tilt/zoom camera can now be powered off of the same, single Ethernet cable, which will also transmit the PTZ commands.
Another thing to consider in choosing cable is that in an analog surveillance solution, each analog camera would need a coax cable that ran all the way to the head-end. In an IP-based surveillance solution, the network camera would only need a short run of Ethernet cable to attach it to the network like any other peripheral device.
In some installations, you could eliminate the environmental impact of cabling altogether by using wireless network technology. However, it is important to remember that communication over a wireless network consumes more power than communication over a cable infrastructure, which might increase the environmental impact.

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