Power over Ethernet (PoE)—One of the most powerful and transforming edge technologies is power over Ethernet (PoE). Edge devices that are PoE compliant do not require additional power cables for power supply. Rather, edge devices are connected to a network PoE switch that provides the appropriate power for the edge device (PoE+ for devices that require higher power). Alternately, a PoE midspan device injects power into an Ethernet cable after it leaves the switch and before it reaches the network device. By employing IP-over-coax Ethernet adapters, it also now is possible to upgrade systems from analog to IP without having to rewire a facility with Category 5 structured cabling, resulting in significant savings when upgrading legacy systems to networked functionality.
Physical security information management
A benefit from all of the features listed above is that software solutions such as physical security information management (PSIM) can take advantage of the high-performance qualities and complex functionalities of the edge devices to further improve overall security initiatives. Control software also has the capability to tie everything together under a single platform with unified management and control.
Other advantages provided by central management software for physical security include:
Intelligent Integration—Central management software not only enables integration of various security and business system subsets, it adds capabilities to the overall system. Access to the system can be from anywhere on the network or even from mobile devices; systems can be scaled easily and new technology integrated; and, system maintenance can be optimized.
Monitoring—Software integrates and centrally manages all of the components in a video surveillance and security system but equally as important, it distributes actionable alerts to appropriate individuals. For example, push video sends real-time activity-generated full frame video to the monitoring screen for action. Whether it’s data, analyzed video content or transactional like point-of-sale information; monitoring functions provided by central management software turn the system from passive reactive to proactive preventative.
Recording and Management—Network systems are not limited by the number of edge devices that can be put on the network or by geographical locations of the devices. Further adding to the potential volume of recorded data are the huge files created by megapixel and HD cameras. There are several options for recording and managing this data including network attached devices such as distributed NVRs, central storage area network servers and cloud recording/storage. Regardless of the option selected, it is all just bits and bytes unless software management architecture is in place to control and effectively manage video data and the bandwidth required to capture high-resolution full frame recorded images.
One thing is clear: there is no definitive choice between placing intelligence on the edge or through a centralized software solution. The decision needs to be based on each specific customer’s needs, budget parameters and system infrastructure. These observations only reflect the positive attributes of edge technology and centralized control software and to make a totally informed decision, integrators should also understand the opposing schools of thought. But that’s a subject for another time.