Reliable, Robust Networks Provide Foundation for Successful IP Implementations
May 17, 2010
Migrating from an analog to a digital video solution can create a challenge when the user’s network is not correctly provisioned for the implementation of a video surveillance system.
Even with a seemingly large bandwidth size such as 100 Mbps, aging network infrastructures simply cannot accommodate the image resolution, size and transmission rate of digital video. Almost fifty percent of the bandwidth is lost to system overhead, leaving only about 54 Mbps of bandwidth for video, data or voice. High-bandwidth applications like video surveillance require a dedicated network. This includes separate paths for recording and viewing as well as dedicated storage area networks (SANs) and/or IP subnets to enable scalability and provide a network that is both robust and easily managed.
When working with customers on developing an IP video surveillance and security system, it is important to determine both the security equipment requirements and the network required to sustain video defined performance parameters. For example, a single uncompressed real time video signal from one of today’s megapixel cameras can require up to 21MB of bandwidth. And even using the latest compression algorithms, a single real time signal will absorb almost 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth. Similarly, motion detection features may also affect bit rates and bandwidth usage. In any event, most implementations will require a minimum of 4CIF video resolution for reasonable video quality.
The very first step in planning an IP-based surveillance system is to find an IT-centric Systems Integrator with network knowledge and experience. Without the expertise of an IT specialist, there are certain to be multiple issues and problems both in the installation and in the finished system. Next, a comprehensive audit of the existing network backbone will help determine what cabling upgrades may be required. Because most IP network fixed cameras support PoE (Power over Ethernet), installation of these cameras on a single Category 5 Ethernet cable can provide both Ethernet connectivity and power-reducing installation costs. An in-depth review of the network topology will also reveal any configuration and performance alterations that may have to be applied. This type of up-front preparation can help ensure the success of the implementation and lessen the number of problems after cutover.
Developing a dedicated IP-based video surveillance system additionally involves employing several network devices, such as the network switch, servers, virtual matrix, encoders and so on. These devices drive the video network. For example, the network switch isolates processes so bandwidth is more guaranteed. Unlike conventional network switches, the robust network switches used in digital video systems will allow proper camera, recording and viewing requirements to match safe levels of bandwidth capacity within an individual switch. To achieve the highest levels of efficiency, the addition of a video management software solution allows a unified view for management of the physical security information.
Once a network is established, it can be expanded with great cost-efficiencies as each component in the system can be set up, operated and monitored independently. Some advantages include devices that can be monitored in multiple locations and not restricted to the single point to point of coax cable. Compression levels can be changed to match system limitations. Access to the system using user names and passwords can be achieved from any point on the dedicated security network using standard TCP/IP so that any networked computer can be used as a viewing monitor and operation center. Standardization of databases and protocols also allows for interaction and interfacing with other security components such as access control and alarm systems.
With regard to the actual deployment of the system, any product existing on a network must be properly connected and managed and the responsibility for this lies initially with the system integrator. Because security and surveillance implementations provide information and data and the network is the means for transferring, accumulating and storing this data, a collaborative approach by the system integrator helps to ensure the best possible solution. Working with security management and IT management, the system integrator designs, delivers and services a sustainable security system that fits with the client strategy and delivers maximum ROI (return on investment).
It should be noted that the position and influence of IT departments within the enterprise continues to evolve rapidly as they implement more applications that capitalize on the inherent benefits networking provides for virtually every aspect of operations. As a result, IT management has gained both more responsibility and accountability for implementing enterprise-wide applications. With video surveillance capabilities on an IT backbone, critical operations ranging from risk management to human resources, process management and inventory control can augment traditional roles. This further escalates IT management’s role and increases their influence during the design process and in making purchasing decisions.
With a knowledgeable and experienced systems integrator as a partner, the potential for network problems is diminished.