Keeping an Eye on IP Video Surveillance

With all of the attention organizations are giving to the safety and security of their employees, visitors and assets, it is no wonder that IP video surveillance is emerging as a key benefit of moving toward a converged network especially among such sectors as financial services, education, law enforcement, retail and health care.

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However, organizations only are beginning now to recognize and investigate the full potential of IP surveillance. In fact, many small and medium companies currently still rely upon antiquated VCR systems that lack functionality and reliability, or they may not have a surveillance system in place at all. With tightening regulations and increased terrorism, espionage and crime threats, these are no longer viable options.

IP video surveillance provides an innovative and affordable alternative to traditional video surveillance and can utilize an organizations current network and Internet connectivity to send real-time, streaming video and still images one-way and two-way from cameras (both IP and analog) over public networks.

IP-based video surveillance:

  • Allows security personnel to monitor security breaches more effectively by offering real-time access to streaming video both locally via LAN and remotely including patrol cars and homes via the Internet
  • Allows video snapshots to be sent instantly via a Web browser to facilitate criminal apprehension
  • Delivers increased functionality by providing automatic time and date stamps, motion detection, and pre- and post-alarm messaging
  • Is cost-effective given that organizations already may have the core network and connectivity required

In short, IP video surveillance allows organizations to better detect, prevent and respond to security breaches than its traditional counterpart. By installing a system that uses digital video and IP to carry the video signal across the network to DVRs, companies can improve security, enhance building access control, and reduce security costs. Security personnel now can monitor live events rather than reviewing a video after the event is over. In addition, executives and other personnel are able to log on immediately and remotely if necessary to watch events as they unfold.

Organizations that utilize surveillance systems traditionally use a combination of cameras and VCRs to monitor building entrances and other high-security locations within their organizations. Management of these devices, plus the coaxial cabling, is labor-intensive and prone to human error. In addition, security personnel and law enforcement only learn of an incident after the fact if at all. Therefore, companies are increasingly integrating analog CCTV video-surveillance traffic, access control signals and alarms over one data network.

Solutions providers play a key role in helping organizations implement effective and affordable IP video surveillance solutions. Working with solutions providers, companies can leverage their existing broadband connection to bring video surveillance to their existing IP networks and proactively secure their organization. Solutions providers can help companies integrate IP-based surveillance systems into networks they sold and monitor as a value-add and can even integrate the system with an existing alarm system for added security and functionality. In addition, solutions providers can help companies further enhance their systems with video-analysis engines that monitor surveillance videos for violations of business rules. For example, the system could look for violations, such as unattended packages or an individual standing in the same place, for more than a specific amount of time.

To be successful in this space, solutions providers must be capable of planning, building and supporting IT infrastructures. They must have a clear understanding of IP networking coupled with an understanding of security risk as well as expertise in remote network monitoring and management, covering bandwidth utilization, data storage and security.

IP technology does for surveillance what it does for telephony. It offers more functionality and, ultimately, helps customers reduce costs. Just as IP telephony is being adopted at an ever-increasing rate, so too is IP video surveillance. Vendors and solutions providers alike now recognize that IP telephony is no longer the primary initial draw to a converged network. In fact, organizations that do not currently have IP networks now are turning to partners for the hardware and services necessary to allow them to take advantage of all that IP video surveillance has to offer. While in the past IP video surveillance may only have been perceived as an add-on benefit to convergence, it increasingly is becoming a driving force behind it.

Mitchell Hershkowitz is the area practice manager for converged communications for Dimension Data, a $2.5 billion global services and solutions provider and Cisco Gold Partner. Hershkowitz has more than 10 years experience in the telecom and IT fields.

Cisco Systems Inc.
Dimension Data

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