Exclusive SD&I Roundtable

Oct. 27, 2008
Leading Integrators in IP Solutions

It's widely heralded as one of the most profound changes to come to the security market in recent years--the switch to digital networked and Internet surveillance. Job one of the integrator is to learn enough about the technology and how to deploy it so they can offer real solutions. We've tapped some leading integrators across the country to find out more.

Roundtable Participants:

Todd Flowers is the owner and president of Surveillance Systems Integration, Rocklin , Calif. Flowers stands by the belief that “only quality video is useful video.”

Mickey Lavery is a system specialist with i2C Technologies, Uniontown , Ohio . I2C is a start-up firm that hand-trains its technicians into video IP expertise.

Thomas Lienhard is vice president of Sales, Artery Lock Technology Group, Medford , Mass. The company specializes in remote Web-enabled viewing.

Mark Moscinski is vice president, System Development Integration (SDI), Chicago. The company started in IT and made the move to security.

George P. Voll is vice president, J&J Security Services Corp., Deltona , Fla. J&J is a pioneer in home wireless networking and IP solutions.

Joe Walker is the branch manager for SigNet Technologies Inc., Cary , N.C. SigNet , a SecurityNet member, specializes in integrated security systems.

What types of installations are you using IP for?

Lavery : We are using IP camera systems in just about any application you can think of. One of the most common applications would include centralized video surveillance and access control for a school district. Most schools within a district are connected by fiber optics; a central server can be used instead of multiple digital video recorders ( DVRs ). All cameras and readers can be administered from any desktop on the network. Another application involves converting analog video to an IP stream.

Lienhard : We use IP to augment access control systems, as well as commercial and residential DVR systems. Several years ago we began offering a few IP-based systems. The demand and interest has steadily climbed.

Moscinski : We've deployed a variety of IP-based systems, including digital video, access control, perimeter detection, video analytics (license plate recognition and human behavior monitoring), alarm systems, computer-aided dispatch, records and asset management and more.

Voll : We are using IP-based systems for controlling security, cameras, access control, lighting, comfort control, energy conservation and reducing false alarms. One of the projects we just completed involved using a camera system to reduce crime and vandalism in a certain area by reporting to everyone's PDA, resulting in 22 arrests within the first two weeks of being installed.

Walker : We currently use IP for a large university campus video system. The system has about 350 cameras in over 50 buildings. It is expected to grow to over 1,000 cameras in the next three years. This system uses mostly analog cameras and IP encoders, connected to the main campus-wide IT network. The video is monitored by individual departments with about 40 monitoring clients. The same campus also has an access control system with over 600 card readers, with all of the control panels and clients connected to the campus IT network.

What is the most unique use of IP solutions you are currently implementing?

Flowers: Homes and businesses alike are prewired for networks with Category 5e or Category 6. We can utilize that infrastructure of wiring to simplify even large installations. The technology even exists that will allow the installer to use existing coaxial cable to transfer a converted IP signal back to the head end.

Lavery : The most unique IP solution we are currently implementing has nothing to do with security at all! Hattie Larlham , a non-profit organization that provides care for children and adults with MR/DD, installed an IP camera system in their “Creative Art” room. The director of the art program will monitor and record the creative art process to gauge the disabled student's emotions, facial expressions and reactions when a teacher applies various colors and drawings to an art board. Not only can this system be used for various research purposes, it also provides a way for families to view their loved ones remotely through the Web browser of the camera.

Lienhard : The most unique application we use is Wilife's (now Logitech) Command Center , a PC-based consumer surveillance system. IP applications are used to network cameras for remote viewing off-site and send camera pictures through the home's 110V wiring in IP format, allowing the cameras to be plugged in instead of hardwired.

Moscinski : There are two applications that are very exciting: large-scale digital video and integrated systems like physical security information management. The first is used by clients who are building nationwide video systems. Some clients are using this approach to consolidate video monitoring into centralized regional or national locations. The second solution links alarms to video and computer-aided dispatch. Systems detect alarms in access control, fire, or a perimeter breach and trigger a series of responses. Instead of time-consuming custom interfaces using application programming interfaces, we can use XML and IP streams.

Voll : We have completed many projects streaming audio and video controlling security, lighting or even the humidity within the home adding comfort to security and now we are going a step further. We are working on J& J's Total Lifestyle IP System that will give the client complete reporting of all activities and presets of their home and business without being on site or even in the country.

Walker : We recently deployed several multi-building systems on a military base. We installed a dedicated security IP network for video and access control. Cameras are a combination of analog and IP. The building to building connections are fiber optic cable and perimeter IP cameras are connected with a mesh network.

What was the learning curve for this discipline and how do you train technicians in IP protocols?

Flowers: Surveillance Systems Integration has been offering IP solutions for two years. Initially it was an occasional IP pan-tilt-zoom camera, however the timing for offering IP as a total solution has never been better and we've kept learning along the way. For those interested in IP, do your research. Test and preview products in-house before taking them to market.

Lavery : i2c Technologies started by scheduling special dedicated training sessions with sales, technical support and installers. Most of the staff already had some computer and technical experience, but for the few who didn't, these information sessions were priceless. Our headquarters is considered our training and research center. There, technicians can test different server configurations, software applications and integrations.

Lienhard : I have a strong background in security starting with a company called Directed Electronics. I later became vice president of sales for a company that uniquely traced stolen computers over their Internet connections worldwide. Artery Lock Technology Group in Boston combines many aspects of what I have learned over the years, but more importantly what these systems can and cannot do. Finding qualified technicians and installers who can digest this stuff is sometimes problematic. Much of this training has to happen hands-on.

Moscinski : Because we started as an IT consultant and moved into security, we have a real advantage. We already had all the skills in IP systems, high-security networks, and integration. Experience helping clients like O'Hare International Airport and Chicago 's Office of Emergency Management & Communications (the city's 9-1-1 center) helped hone our skills.

Voll : The start came through consumer demand. We were already an established security company and it was only natural for us to follow trends and the needs of our customers. Education can be a difficult task. Know your employees and their capabilities. Let them learn at their own rate and have your specialists train them using real world examples. Offer training classes, documentation and digest anything you can get your hands on. Find out where mistakes are being made, internal and external to your organization and demonstrate the proper way of doing things.

Walker : Initially we responded to customer requests for campus wide connected systems. We also suggested networked video and access control to some of our customers who look to us for systems architecture advice. We grew up in the security system industry and were always an early adaptor of new technology, so the use of IP video and access control came naturally to us and has been relatively painless. We provide training for our technicians and also employ a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

Related Podcast:
SecurityInfoWatch.com hosted some of our roundtable participants on the phone to get into IP security topics. The result is Episode 22 from SIW Radio (available for download or live streaming).