When it comes to Internet Protocol (IP)-based security systems, most of us are familiar with IP-based video surveillance, a technology that's been in the mainstream for well over three years. What you maynot know is how IP technology can benefit other security applications, how these IP-based security systems function, and what concerns remain surrounding this new technology.
When IP-based video first arrived on the scene, many security professionals were hesitant to deploy the technology. But times are changing. IP-based video has overcome many of the limitations associated with analog systems, and demand for IP-based surveillance systems is now at an all-time high. Varying reports put the number of IP cameras purchased today at between 18% and 30%, and most analysts agree that this number will continue to rise.
"When you look at what IP buys you--being able to treat video as data, high-speed transmission over long distances, and a shared infrastructure--those are all things that video benefits from," says John Moss, CEO and co-founder of S2 Security Corp. "When you consider those benefits, together with the fact that video is the largest growth area in the security systems industry, it makes sense that IP surveillance is where 90% of the effort has gone."
But IP technology for access control and intrusion detection systems has been much slower to gain ground. "The reluctance to move to IPtechnology in access control is partly due to concerns surrounding who can access the data," explains Ian Coulthard, product manager for integrated security at Honeywell. Coulthard notesthat access control data may contain personal information regarding the identity and location of authorized individuals, and may also provide the means for unauthorized persons to gain physical access to a location. "That can apply in the video world as well, but anyone can go to a public area and look at the same scene being viewed by the camera," he explains. "The information one can get from intercepting and interpreting access control data can be more of a security issue."
Another reason why access control devices and intrusion detection sensors have been slow to transition to IP-based technology is delayed return on investment. "There isn't a huge cost advantage to implementing IP technology into end devices, and the cost of replacing a security system that works well and has a lifecycle of 12 years doesn't give you a payback within the first year," says Moss. "And if it doesn't pay back in the first year, many companies are reluctant to spendmultiple budget cycles."
Nevertheless, IP-based technology presents numerous benefits for security applications. Primarily, digitizing security information intodata is essential for enhanced technologies, such as video analytics, which incorporate the ability to detect motion and scene changes. While video analytics has become commonplace, IP technology can drive the requisite processing capability closer to the network's edge.
"The native delivery of video through a digital mechanism providesmore flexibility, and enhances analytics capabilities by enabling wider ranging algorithms for more strategic object tracking and motion detection at the camera," explains Honeywell's Coulthard.
Also, all IP-based security systems operate independently of geography, allowing for more cost-effective remote monitoring. "When it comes to remote monitoring, there is really no distance limitation withIP-based technology," maintains Justin Lott, video surveillance product marketing manager for Bosch Security Systems. "Yes, you're limited to a 100-meter cable run to the device, but in the IP space, we're dealing with data, and IT managers know how tomanage and move data out to the Internet via structured cabling."