IT trends impacting IP video: 802.11n wireless

Having reshaped consumer tech, 802.11n reaches the professional security industry

If you take the parking lot example, the designer has the option to deploy a higher ratio of SVGA cameras to cover the scene or deploy fewer, higher resolutions cameras with a wider field of view. The second option will still maintain the appropriate number of pixels on target to achieve the desired visual outcome. Imagine the satisfaction on a security director’s face when he or she sees HDTV-quality video streaming reliably over a wireless network, and then learns that the staff will have the luxury of monitoring fewer cameras for the same coverage.

To date, the biggest obstacle to deploying 802.11n solutions revolved around price and product offering. Customers are still paying a premium for the technology, particularly for outdoor-rated access points, which are the primary products needed for security solutions. That stated, the 802.11n sales trend discussed earlier points towards lower manufacturing costs that will ultimately be passed on to the end-users of the technology. Within the past year, several providers of wireless solutions have announced products that deliver 802.11n for outdoor installations, including Firetide and Proxim.

Another barrier to entry rests in the hands of camera manufacturers who have been slow to add direct support into network video devices. To date, there are only a handful of products available that integrate 802.11n directly onboard the camera or encoder. This impacts and limits the choices integrators and end-users have for deployment. Despite this fact, the adoption of 802.11n should not be majorly impacted by the lack of video products available because all network cameras can be paired with a wireless device point, which effectively integrates them into the wireless network. These device points enable security professionals to deploy a wide range of wired network cameras over the wireless network to meet the surveillance objectives defined by the scene. Whether the requirements of the scene call for a true day/night camera enclosed in a vandal resistant housing or the detection capabilities of a thermal network camera paired on a pan-tilt head with a 10x optical zoom camera, the security professional will be able to leverage the advantages of 802.11n .

This is what is so exciting about the marriage between IT and the physical surveillance market. Wireless bandwidth growth is yet another advancement from the IT industry that provides significant advantages to physical security business practices. Backwards compatibility coupled with the increase in bandwidth should ensure that the adoptions of 802.11n will accelerate throughout 2011. I am confident that we will see more products on both the video device side as well as a host of new access points throughout the year. We will also see the manufacturers of access points increasing the bit rate delivered moving closer to the maximum bandwidth levels defined in the standard. This will increase the effectiveness of systems deployed in the physical security market providing us all with more options for life safety and asset protection.

About the author: James Marcella has been a technologist in the security and IT industries for more than 17 years. He is currently the Director of Technical Services for Axis Communications.