Living on the Edge

Edge video recording goes mainstream

Video recording on the edge has been available to security practitioners for some time, but never with as many affordable and easy-to-deploy options as today. And since the video surveillance market continues to grow more rapidly than any other segment of physical security, edge recording is quickly becoming a mainstream application.

In the past, most CCTV video surveillance systems were fed video over coax cable from analog cameras, displaying it on control room monitors, while VCRs recorded to videotape. More recently, VCRs have been replaced in new or upgraded surveillance systems with one or more of three choices: DVRs with analog surveillance cameras, NVRs with network surveillance cameras, or hybrid DVRs with both analog and network cameras. In many cases, although the recorder itself has changed, much of the rest of the infrastructure design has not, and video continues to be centrally recorded.

Edge recording techniques are the next major step toward more cost-effective use of video surveillance systems, enabling those systems to be more valuable to the organization.

Recording on the edge requires several technologies to be truly effective. Edge recording is not just using an Ethernet-based IP network and adding smart network surveillance cameras; nor is it only plugging in IP video storage for higher reliability and scalability. Instead, edge recording uses all of those technologies and more, functioning together in a comprehensive solution.

What is Edge Recording?
The premise of edge recording is simple. Anything that is recorded and stored at an individual “edge” location, such as an office environment, factory floor, restaurant, highway or city street, parking lot or retail location, doesn’t have to be immediately uploaded to a central storage and monitoring location. It can instead be recorded and held locally, referred to as the edge.

In fact, using a technique called “store-and-forward,” video can be held at the edge and only transmitted over the network as required via a set of preset criteria or conditions. This is important because one of the major challenges facing users of IP network cameras is that while they bring many advantages over their older analog equivalents ranging from night and low-light vision, digital zoom and Power over Ethernet (PoE) support, they use the IP network infrastructure to transmit their video capture to a storage device.

Network Bandwidth
Multiple IP network cameras can plug directly into a new or existing network quite easily; and IP network cameras can produce a non-stop, constant stream of megapixel-quality video. This streaming, however, can consume a lot of the network’s bandwidth, or its overall capacity.
When multiple surveillance cameras stream video over a corporate IP network, there is often little bandwidth available for other cameras or for any IT applications normally using the network.

Corporate IT is often unwilling to allow video applications to run over their existing Ethernet network, due to two concerns: bandwidth consumption and network security. Network security issues are real, but can typically be worked out between physical security and IT through qualification and certification. Network bandwidth consumption can be a much larger issue and trickier to solve.

However, by keeping IP video streaming largely to an edge environment, instead of consuming all available corporate network bandwidth, IT concerns can be alleviated.

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