Whether it comes in the form of network cameras or video servers, IP-based surveillance is rapidly replacing and upgrading traditional analog systems. Industry analyst J.P. Freeman Co. predicts that by 2008, more than 50 percent of installed cameras will be network cameras.
When a new technology enters the marketplace, there is usually some confusion about its viability and its uses, which persists until people become educated on the technology. During this learning phase, it is common for misperceptions and myths about the technology to arise. Today there are a number of common myths surrounding IP surveillance. We've addressed two of them over the past few months on SecurityInfoWatch.com: the myth that IP surveillance is still five years away, and the myth that IP surveillance is too expensive. Now we'll examine myth #3: IP surveillance is unproven.
IP Surveillance Is Happening Everywhere
To dispel the myth that IP surveillance is unproven, you simply need to look at all the adopters of the technology. Various facilities such as schools, airports, courthouses and Departments of Transportation are switching to IP surveillance. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 80,000 network cameras have been installed in the U.S. alone. Here are just a few examples.
Casinos: Turning Stone Casino, located outside of Utica in upstate New York, is owned by the Oneida Nation and is one of the fastest-growing communities in the country. With more than 40 network cameras in The Tower Hotel at Turning Stone, all of the hallways, elevators and stairwells are under constant surveillance. New IP surveillance technology provides motion detection capabilities that notify hotel security officers of unusual movements. In addition, many of the network cameras are equipped with PTZ capabilities, which can be controlled remotely from any computer.
Education: Canton High School, located in Jackson, MS, installed an IP surveillance system to monitor school grounds. All areas of the school, including hallways, entrances and classrooms, can be monitored at one time from on campus or from a remote monitoring location. The system prevents crime on campus because students know their behavior is being monitored. If a problem does occur, the system allows security officials to e-mail pictures directly to the police.
Health Care: Health First, a not-for-profit healthcare organization in Melbourne, FL, uses an IP surveillance system to monitor more than 100 wiring closets in its hospitals and healthcare facilities. The system helps ensure that all personnel and contractors follow documented policies and procedures for maintenance and repairs in the data distribution facilities and allows offsite technicians to assist in troubleshooting.
Transportation: The Minnesota Department of Transportation uses an IP surveillance system to give traffic updates to drivers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Real-time images of freeways and traffic conditions from 238 cameras are fed to the MnDOT's Web site, allowing commuters to avoid delays and dangerous conditions.
Retail: Springfield Food Court Inc. uses an IP surveillance system to simultaneously monitor all its food courts, which are located throughout several states. The system enables SFC's management to view deliveries, inventories, cash transactions, customer interactions and employee misconduct.
Clearly, IP surveillance has been proven effective in a range of environments. But it's true that IP cameras do not currently dominate the surveillance market. This leads to a related question: If IP is better, why aren't security providers selling more? The security market's structure and buying practices have a lot to do with the misperception behind this question.
It's clear that the shift to IP technology is inevitable. As J.P. Freeman Co. states in its latest report, "It is the direction in which security is moving, and moving quickly, with or without us." However, because IP surveillance is a relatively new technology, it requires a new mindset and knowledge base among integrators, consultants, and industry influencers in order to overcome established procedures.