Live Streaming Video for Security

Oct. 16, 2017
Peer-to-peer applications are eliminating the bandwidth concerns that have proven troublesome in the past

Live streaming video is what customers demand today for connected devices, appliances, mobile platforms, Facebook, IP cameras, network video recorders and more. For consumers, it has become an obsession: streaming video from concerts, events, family gatherings and destinations across the globe.

The general deployment of IP video for security applications also continues to rise. According to Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016–2021, it would take an individual more than five million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2021. Globally, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021, up from 73 percent in 2016, according to the report.

In consumer applications, problems associated with live video streaming for entertainment and social media may be an inconvenience, but are not as critical as deployment in security scenarios. With security, the consequences of poor quality video streaming can be monumental and costly, even resulting in loss of business continuity or profitability when images are unusable or unobtainable for evidence, identification, operations management or compliance regulation and control.

Consider video camera footage for police evidence that’s grainy or unrecognizable; NVR or DVR images that are irretrievable because of inadequate storage; or footage that’s unwieldy from consuming sizeable amounts of bandwidth while suffering from signal delays or break ups due to buffering. Live video streaming has its challenges, but new technical innovations are making it easier to deploy and a better experience for the end user.

For the security industry, live video streaming is an enabling technology that offers additional opportunities for dealers and integrators to provide new services to customers. To be effective, it needs to be able to stream consistently and reliably from a variety of devices, platforms, browsers and mediums, such as from NVRs, on-premises servers or the cloud.

Footage needs to be quickly obtainable and deliver critical metadata, with automatic encryption and authentication. It needs to be readily available from a host of different devices and mobile platforms, with sub-second latency and steady image quality.

As video streaming applications go mainstream, systems integrators versed in its characteristics will likely find new applications in security, business process improvement and the industrial internet of things (loT), where video gathers metadata from cameras and other sensors.

Customer Expectations

The popularity of live streaming has created consumers and security end-users who demand more from their video. They want clarity without lags in transmission and the ability to deliver streaming workflows on any device or infrastructure they choose. Users want to scale their investment with the lowest live streaming infrastructure cost and enable the collection of precise metadata for physical security and heightened business intelligence. They need a low footprint with minimal hardware requirements, lower operating expenses and high scalability. They expect open architecture and the ability to use the same Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to run their platforms on devices, servers, public and private clouds and other transmission methods.

The explosion of live streaming video in IP video cameras, network recorders and body-worn cameras is driving a new category of high-end software offering reduced bandwidth, high scalability and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Security dealers and integrators can partner with manufacturers who can deliver these capabilities for their implementation or video surveillance project design.

What is Peer-to-Peer Streaming?

Peering, or peer-to-peer connections, are designed to deliver video and data streams in real time directly between the source and destination – over any network and bypassing cloud servers entirely. Users still retain tight control over its use in their ecosystems and can deploy it on a variety of devices, including image capture and streaming from Android, iOS, browser platforms, or “peering” directly from cameras or NVRs to wherever necessary.

Peering eliminates high costs of operating cloud-based streaming services while maintaining flexibility for specific functionality, such as security, process control, operations management or business intelligence. It can also be used in transportation and retail markets (buses, ships, storefronts) for low-cost on-premises streaming distribution.

Peer-to-peer provides the user, security dealer or security monitoring operation a live view of the protected premises or an event to more accurately assess and target the appropriate response while minimizing the operating costs for the service provider.

Security integrators should be aware there is a difference between generic peering and peering that is written and augmented specifically for the needs of physical security. The architecture of a security-based implementation needs to follow established security protocols and standards, use native H.264 video compression codecs and secure the connections with encryption and access control.

Many peering solutions today are intended for browser chat services, focus purely on file-based delivery or rely on technologies like VP8 encoding, which is not endemic to the security industry.

Peer-to-peer streaming should be designed to shed the high cost of bandwidth by streaming directly to the user’s choice of device or platform, moving off the end-user’s IT infrastructure. It works optimally when streaming from: security cameras and surveillance; wearables and body-worn cameras; drones; telepresence and robots; and other video-enabled loT devices.

Applications and Use Cases

In warehouse or industrial applications, live video streaming can be used to ascertain manufacturing and regulatory compliance, assess production processes or even investigate potential liability in worker’s compensation claims. In the example of body worn cameras, live video streaming and metadata transmission can assist police and authorities and record activity. It can also be used with geo-location services to pinpoint the exact whereabouts of an officer in the field. It effectively streams other metadata such as pictures, thumbnail images and even heart-rate sensor data. As cameras become sensors and move to the loT, new applications will emerge – and virtual reality and augmented reality will become part of the equation.

Some of the inhibitors to using live video streaming in the past have been high bandwidth costs, reliance on outdated browser plug-ins and high latency. Now, technical innovations – including peer-to-peer streaming – give systems integrators and their users application flexibility and lower TCO.

From a management perspective, end-users can easily switch between video sources, such as IP cameras on the fly and leverage live adaptive bit-rate streaming to more efficiently manage bandwidth usage.

Live video streaming opens a world of opportunities and applications for the physical security and connected systems market. It integrates with all devices and the cloud to support an unlimited number of use cases, scaling readily and incorporating new features and capabilities seamlessly as requirements change or technology advances.  

Live video streaming and metadata transmission prepares systems integrators for new technology and the loT, bolstering their value proposition in the marketplace by effectively eliminating the largest cost driver of hosted live streaming platforms – bandwidth.

Bryan Meissner is the Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of EvoStream (, a developer of high-end live video and metadata streaming technology. 

Sidebar: Top 10 Advantages of Peer-to-Peer Streaming

1.Eliminates cost of cloud bandwidth usage

2.Lowers latency and yields quicker connection times

3.Eliminates cloud compute and management resources

4.Reduces complexity and points of failure

5.Yields end-to-end encryption of data

6.Provides a simpler IoT workflow

7.Reduces potential attack surfaces for more secure services

8.Offers direct bi-directional communication between source and destination

9.Affords two layers of authorization/access control

10.Support from all major industry players including Google, Apple and Microsoft