Real words or buzzwords?: Edge computing and networking

May 2, 2023
The design of effective and affordable electronic physical security systems requires a clear understanding of edge computing and edge networking based on modern technology.

Editor’s note: This is the 67th article in the “Real Words or Buzzwords?” series about how real words become empty words and stifle technology progress.

Edge computing and edge networking are not technologies but are information technology concepts to be utilized in the design of computing and networking for IoT devices and systems, including electronic physical security systems.

Edge Computing

Edge computing is used to process device data close to where the data is generated. The term “edge” means being located near devices, such as cameras, intrusion and other sensors, as opposed to being far away from them in a corporate or cloud data center.

A “data center” is so named because it is at the center of a network whose segments stretch out to where the data is being generated, i.e. “the edge.” Data is generated at the edge, then stored at the center. The edge computer could be a general-purpose computer such as a video recording server, or it could be a purpose-built computer like an access controller.

Data is processed at the edge for two situations. The first is when the data is voluminous, and only a subset of the original data, or metadata about the original data, are needed for central processing.

This is often the case with security video, which can produce high-volume data streams. It is definitely the case where high-speed video is used to closely monitor a manufacturing production line, for example.

The second situation is when processing is required to execute local tasks, like unlocking a door, or adjusting an HVAC system when sensors report that building occupancy has increased on specific floors.

Within the security industry, I have encountered the consideration that on-premises computing is outdated, and cloud computing is the modern way to go. However, that’s not really the situation, and one of the purposes of this article is to point that out.

Modern security systems make use of both edge computing and cloud computing both now and in the future, as security system data processing requirements will continue to increase, thanks in part to AI-enabled devices and systems.

While security system on-premises computing is not going away, it is definitely changing appreciably, partly because new types of edge computing are emerging.

I am in favor of using the “edge computing” term because the modern computing technologies are different, more capable, and often have expanded roles than the servers we have used for the bulk of existing security deployments.

An upcoming article will cover the new requirements for security systems edge computing, which are significant enough to warrant a separate article that includes technology examples.

Edge Networking  

Edge networks are the networks utilized by edge devices and edge computers. Their design should not be based on office LAN technology but on the Modern LAN principles developed by Frost & Sullivan.

As explained in the white paper available at the site linked above, “The proliferation of network endpoints, the advent of cloud-based services, mobile-centric applications and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all disrupting traditional LAN design. In its place is the Modern LAN, a new set of design principles and a new deployment methodology for local area networks that must support a wide array of devices.”

New Network Design Thinking: Your Help Needed

The Modern LAN principles make it so much easier for security system designers and specifiers because the Modern LAN approach is designed for exactly what we’re trying to do. We no longer have to deal with designing and maintaining networks built based on architectures and equipment that were never intended for the kind of edge networking we need!

This is one reason why I’ll be surveying security consultants, integrators and IT network providers on this topic. I’m starting with security consultants first, and I’ll update this article to include the other surveys when those are ready.

I have a survey page up on my website with 22 multiple-choice questions on it:

I'm sending each of the first 50 consultants who complete the survey a $25 electronic gift card. I am very interested in your answers.

Modern Edge-Networking Equipment

Modern LAN PoE switches exist that deliver up to 50 Watts of PoE++ and 10/100/1000 Mbps symmetrical, full-duplex, over 2 or 4 pair UTP cabling with up to a 2,000-foot reach.

Modern LAN design is important to security system designers and deployers for reliability and high performance, and especially because the cost of Modern LAN edge networking is significantly less than for traditional office LAN networking designs applied to physical security system edge network.

In one recent deployment of over 30,000 cameras, the cost of the Modern LAN design was 80% less than the traditional LAN design. It is typical for a Modern LAN design to achieve a 50% to 80% reduction in edge networking costs over a traditional LAN design.

A separate article will cover applying each of the principles of Modern LAN design, provide example network architectures, and examine the high ROI elements of a Modern LAN deployment.

In the meantime, please do download and closely read The Modern LAN whitepaper.

Edge Computing Video

The following 3-minute video from IDG TECHtalk explains edge computing pictorially and depicts the role of edge computing: 

About the Author

Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III

Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (, a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. He has been a frequent contributor to Security Business, SecurityInfoWatch and STE magazine for decades. He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights, available on Amazon. Mr. Bernard is an active member of the ASIS member councils for Physical Security and IT Security, and is a member of the Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (

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