Networking solutions were once again the focus of many of the exhibitors at trade shows this past spring; nearly every camera manufacturer showed an IP-based product or solution, as interest in networked security and surveillance solutions continues to grow.        

While attendance at the shows was down, and the overall space was smaller, exhibitors generally reported steady traffic at their booths and most came away with a respectable number of quality leads. Much of this activity was clearly centered on networked video and security systems as a result of the overall efficiencies now truly coming to light as a result of new and improved IP products and technologies.
Knowledge of these networked solutions, including how, when, where and why they can be applied, is critical to implementation and taking advantage of the functional and cost-efficiencies these systems offer.
Let’s take a look at some of the more relevant benefits of IP-based video solutions and what value is provided by those benefits.

Performance Criteria

IP cameras are available from the medium to high-end of the price scale, and specifications and features are usually concurrent with their value. High performance features (such as megapixel image sensors, advanced digital signal processing, optical zoom lenses, wide dynamic range, on-board analytics such as motion detection, and auto image stabilizers) provide more options to help security professionals meet their specific surveillance needs more efficiently.
Quality video images are critical for professional security applications and innovative technologies common to IP-based cameras, which can help to provide superior results. With all the choices available, it’s critical to strike a balance between performance, features and functionality along with the actual quality of the cameras considered so that your evaluations take both initial purchase costs and total cost of ownership into account.

Security Systems Integration

Whether it’s access control systems, POS (point of sale) devices or NVRs (network video recorders), these network-centric digital appliances can be safely and conveniently integrated with IP video surveillance systems across a single open platform so that they can be accessed on a secure network using an intelligent and intuitive graphical user interface. Through this integration, security professionals can obtain a better and bigger picture of their facility, making the management of data and video more intelligent and efficient. Single platform control is a trend that is quickly gaining traction, but is still in its relative infancy across disparate systems, such as point of sale and environmental systems. Integration is a system criterion that will continue to play an increasingly important role in your system operations. In this case, it’s best to consult with a systems integration company that has proven experience in this area to ensure that your systems will actually “talk” to one another and meet your expectations.


IP-based cameras often feature purpose built integrated hardware that performs image analysis tasks, such as motion detection or image stabilization, which affect scalability by reducing the number of devices and cameras you actually need to attain the coverage you want. This kind of on-board video intelligence or processing, performed at the camera level, helps to alleviate the problem of computing power shortages at the system head and can also help eliminate the need to add more cameras to a system.

The prevalence of megapixel cameras is also changing the landscape when designing video surveillance systems, since megapixel cameras can effectively replace multiple conventional cameras in many instances. But there’s no doubt that upgrading legacy systems becomes much more feasible when IP cameras and edge devices are “hung” on network infrastructure, and industry standard servers for data storage and software hosting are specified, which can be more easily scaled to meet future requirements.

Power over Ethernet (PoE)

Unlike analog cameras, PoE compliant IP cameras do not require local power for their operation and instead are powered over existing/new network Category 5 cabling that delivers standard 10/100/1000Mb Ethernet service. Power is transmitted over Cat 5 Ethernet cabling, enabling the transition to a networked platform to be achieved in a centralized, more simplified and easy to manage environment.

Additionally, new PoE power supplies are available that also allow non-compliant PoE cameras to be powered over the network using simple, inexpensive adapters. The introduction of these products provides systems designers and installers with a highly efficient means of expanding networked systems without having to incur additional hardware and wiring costs at individual camera sites where power sources were previously required.

Improved Security and Surveillance

Imaging technology advances have led to superior image reproduction in virtually any lighting condition, which opens the door for expanded use and improved performance of video surveillance in remote or difficult locations. Additionally, networked camera images can easily be accessed via standard Web browsers, video management software, NVRs and even networked DVRs by authorized security personnel from any PC connected to the Internet. The remote control and viewing capabilities of networked combined with improved image quality can greatly improve overall security and surveillance operations allowing for fast and effective response.

Lower Cost of Ownership

IP-based cameras are inherently easier to install than legacy cameras – especially if network infrastructure already exists with the necessary available bandwidth, which can result in lower installation costs and reduced operational overhead. Maintenance and service expenses can also be reduced because IP cameras can be adjusted, checked or even reconfigured remotely without the need for on-site service.
Finally, networked systems allow cameras to be easily moved and added without incurring substantial costs for installation and wiring, and without the potential of having to shut down the system during the installation.

Despite the downturn of the economy and somewhat bleak long-term forecasts, the number of networked security and surveillance systems to be installed over the course of 2009 has been earmarked to rise over previous years, even though forecasts show a slow-down in the overall deployment of systems. The key is in knowing the technical nuances of IP systems so that they can be translated into tangible benefits that deliver added value.