Businesses have listened to staff and abandoned in-house developed tools in favor of consumer products and ubiquitous software-as-a-service (SaaS) capabilities. They want to exploit the benefits that extensive R&D and manufacturing can bring and are willing to trade off the minor compromises that come with standardized solutions. Also, security managers are starting to ask why sites can’t be secured in the time it takes to add a Dropcam to their home network…

The surveillance industry is yet to make a wholesale shift to adopt consumer technology, but more optimized, agile and cost-effective solutions will be hard to resist for long. Users are looking to “wireless video” to access the benefits of lower deployment costs, rapid rollout and redeployment. They also want to adopt cloud services to cut capital expenditure and scale operational costs up and down, as their surveillance needs change. But there are plenty of challenges to overcome.

When mobile, we are traveling through a patchwork of 2G, 3G and LTE coverage of variable quality and latency. In high-density urban environments, even with good 3G or LTE coverage, we encounter congested networks. Looking into the future, when the LTE roll out is complete, enterprise security leaders can still expect inconsistent coverage and the congestion that results from the increasing demands placed on mobile networks. So how can we deliver an acceptable, consistent video capability when the available bandwidth fluctuates by location and as congestion varies throughout the day?

Even using Wi-Fi on a fixed site, deploying multiple high definition (HD) cameras into a single area can overwhelm the network bandwidth. This means that cameras need an expert technician to deploy and configure them to use non-overlapping Wi-Fi networks. Having deployed the camera, try pushing HD surveillance video over the corporate network and watch the reaction of the IT team. Continued demands for HD and Ultra HD cameras present even greater problems: a typical 1GBps network link might support only 30 cameras and will fill up many terabytes of storage each day. 

Some of today’s most interesting technology companies are tackling the shortcomings of consumer surveillance offerings, yet leveraging the power of mass-market consumer electronics to build better devices and services for less, sharing the development costs over millions of customers.

But where are the pioneers going to come from for this transformation? The broadcast video market has faced these issues for years but adopted a brute force approach, such as bonding cellular lines in multi-SIM modems. However, the associated operational costs are too high for general
security use.

Law enforcement has led the charge to wireless video to underpin their surveillance operations. However, agencies are now realizing that the race to HD and LTE networks has created a monthly bill shock. This has forced them quickly into solutions that feature adaptive bandwidth technologies, dynamically adjusting video to the available network bandwidth for live surveillance, while offering access to unconstrained, full-resolution video when needed in the courtroom.

Dynamic law enforcement operations offer other lessons for the way forward. With field-based staff increasingly armed with tablets and smartphones, video consumption is no longer limited to the control room. As such, downlink becomes as much of an issue as uplink. Can your infrastructure handle multiple concurrent users that all want to access video remotely – often over cellular networks? Imagine finding out it doesn’t, just at the point a major incident occurs.

Greater access to video also places greater emphasis on filtering content to ensure that co-workers are viewing the right video, without being overburdened with false alarms or incidents that are already being addressed by other colleagues. Technology companies are responding with video analytics that can be used to classify and route content to the right people at the right time. This will also help in addressing transmission and storage problems, by limiting the streaming of video to situations that require active monitoring, using highly intelligent exception-based routing.

Finally, if video originates on commercial cellular networks, why bring it onto corporate networks? Moving video storage and analysis to the cloud, coupled with intelligent edge-based storage in the most constrained bandwidth environments, takes the back-end network challenge away from an organization. Focused cloud solution providers can then help extract greater value and operational efficiencies from the video that is collected – unlocking its value as an asset. Equally sensitive data held in financial ledgers, HR records and other management systems has already moved into the cloud. Isn’t it time for a more intelligent, outsourced approach for surveillance and security?