Ten Steps to a Successful IP Surveillance Installation: An Introduction

Jan. 16, 2006
Steer clear of the pitfalls and find the smooth route through your IP video project

As IP surveillance is quickly becoming the most flexible and future-proof option for security and surveillance installations, it is important for users to understand common pitfalls, customization options and the advantages of a fully digital system.

Starting with the first step in February and continuing through November - and published jointly via SecurityInfoWatch.com and in Security Technology & Design magazine -- we will examine 10 steps that security professionals can take in order to implement a successful IP Surveillance system. These include:

Step 1: Choosing a network camera
It is important to select cameras that meet the needs of your organization and installation. This includes cameras that can be pan/tilt/zoom, vandal-proof, weather-resistant, or fixed-dome products. Each type of camera can be blended into an IP-Surveillance system to create a total package that solves your security needs. Also, we have to consider that not all network cameras are created equal. Some low-cost network cameras may look appealing at first, but security professionals need to understand how the components of a network camera affect the camera's performance and durability.

Step 2: Compression
All digital video surveillance systems use some type of compression for the digital video. Without effective compression, our networks would grind to a halt due to the size of the video files. Selecting the right compression is vital, and includes choices between proprietary or industry standard modes such as Motion JPEG or MPEG-4. Compression can also determine whether video is admissible in court cases, an important consideration for security and surveillance installations.

Step 3: Video Management
These days, video systems can evaluate situations and take the appropriate action, rather than just passively recording video. Video management tools are dependent on the application and many factors have to be considered. We'll look at considerations of available bandwidth, storage capabilities, scalability, frame-rate control and integration capabilities.

Step 4: Storage
The ability to use open storage solutions is one of the main benefits with IP surveillance. Considerations when determining storage requirements include frame rate, the amount of time the video needs to be stored, the required redundancy, and which type of storage that fits best, e.g. a storage area network, or network attached storage.

Step 5: Incorporating Analog Cameras
So you have analog cameras? These also can be integrated into a network video system using video servers. The analog camera is simply connected to a video server, which digitizes, compresses and transmits video over the network. Many times, this is useful in reducing installation costs because older equipment can continue to be used. However, there are instances in which it is not sufficient to simply convert an analog camera video stream into digital due to limitations in video quality.

Step 6: Wireless Networking
Sometimes wireless solutions are the best and most cost-effective option for security and surveillance installations. For example it could be useful in historic buildings, where the installation of cables would damage the interior, or within facilities where there is a need to move cameras to new locations on a regular basis. The technology can also be used to bridge sites without expensive ground cabling.

Step 7: Designing the Network
Each network design will be specific to the needs of the user and the specified installation. Beyond the actual cameras, it is important to consider IP addressing and transport protocols along with transmission methods, bandwidth, scalability and network security. In this article, we'll touch on all of those issues - before you encounter them.

Step 8: Security
Securing video is one of the most important steps in creating a successful IP surveillance installation. Nearly all security and surveillance applications contain sensitive information that should not be available to anyone with an Internet connection. Understanding and choosing the right security options - such as firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs) and password protection - will eliminate concerns that an IP surveillance system is open to the public.

Step 9: Hot Technologies
Today far more video is being recorded than anyone could ever monitor or search. Therefore, the next big trend in IP surveillance is intelligent video. Advanced network cameras can have built-in motion detection and event handling. In addition, more intelligent algorithms - such as number (license) plate recognition, people counting -- are being integrated into security and surveillance systems. Network cameras and intelligent video have important synergies that make the systems more reliable and effective than those with a digital video recorder or other centralized system.

Step 10: Best Practices
Over the last few years, thousands of IP surveillance systems have been installed, and many lessons have been learned. These range from simple tips about camera placement and lighting conditions to working with IT departments and technicians to determine issues such as the peak times for network usage. As we close the series, we'll touch on these concerns.

By the end of this article series, these 10 steps will enable any security professional to avoid pitfalls and implement best practices, making IP srveillance installations easier to install and manage.

About the author: As the general manager for Axis Communications, Fredrik Nilsson oversees the company's operations in North America. In this role, he manages all aspects of the business, including sales, marketing, business expansion and finance. He can be reached via email at [email protected].