The rise of IP video surveillance systems

Bandwidth costs have come down gradually and so the usage of IP video surveillance systems has increased. Moreover, for companies which require flexible, cost-effective surveillance solutions with enhanced functionalities such as remote accessibility and better scalability, IP based surveillance seems to be a better option than the traditional analog.

Roy Alves, who is a regional business development manager of Axis Communications, feels the same.

He added that in CCTV surveillance, images are captured and recorded on a digital video recorder, with the images being relayed through analog cables going from the cameras to the DVR in the surveillance room. While in IP surveillance cameras capture and store their data on more common PC storage devices by a way of a wired or wireless setup, thus helping businesses save on installation costs as existing network infrastructure can be repurposed for surveillance.

Unlike in an analog arrangement, IP Security cameras can be installed at any location, irrespective of the distance from the central monitoring station and can be easily moved from one location to the next, without any cabling needing to be replaced.

IP offers more opportunities

The flexibility that IP offers is amazing as it helps the admin to control the bandwidth for each security camera, with higher resolution cameras demanding greater bandwidth for instance, and allows a single storage media to be shared across many systems for recording the video. Any amount of recordings can take place simultaneously, at multiple locations for redundancy purposes, off-site storage or even live video surveillance at service providers.

Nowadays, institutions such as the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society are training deaf and dumb people who can be employed as surveillance admins at various enterprise firms. These companies use deaf people to monitor video footage and obtain better results. This is down to the fact that the footage itself is silent and deaf monitors have the ability to read lips and aren’t so easily distracted by various noises in the monitoring center.

Bandwidth and Video Storage

A few years ago, enterprises which deployed networked video surveillance systems used to face certain challenges related to bandwidth and storage while integrating a surveillance system. Generally, all networked video solutions utilize network bandwidth and storage space based upon their configuration in terms of factors such as number and image resolution of the cameras used, what video compression type is employed, as well as whether the recording will be done on continuous or on event based basis.

These days a tremendous development has taken place in video compression standards and that has given a lot of scope to reduce network bandwidth usage in surveillance networks. Moreover, if a company only requires a small number of surveillance cameras say 8-13, a basic 100Mbit network switch can be used. But when businesses implement ten or more high-quality network cameras that record at high frame rates, the network load for the system should be around 2-3 MB/s mark of the available network bandwidth. In this case, by using a gigabit-supporting switch + gigabit network adapter and the server that is running the video management software a network bottleneck can be highly avoided.

So, if we carefully plan the installation, network bottlenecks for mission critical IP video surveillance needs can be easily avoided.

Coming to the factor of storage, video compression standard plays a very crucial role in influencing the usage of a NAS or a SAN solution. On this front, the H.264 compression format is the most efficient video compression technology which is currently being used. As mentioned in one of the earlier paragraphs, this compression standard also helps in significantly reducing network bandwidth and storage space required per H.264 video file. For instance, let’s suppose three cameras recording 30 days worth of footage will require about 135GB of storage space with the help H.264. Whereas, if the traditional MPEG 4 is used it will require around 204GB of storage and in the case of a Motion JPEG video format the storage requirement may even cross 1TB.

Finally, IP based surveillance solutions help in recording and monitoring videos from anywhere on the network; whether it is on a local network or a wide area network like the internet. These systems have the capability that cannot be matched by analog such as reduced installation costs, guaranteed video quality, flexible deployment and utmost scalability.

Now, for those who think that these systems may prove costly, here’s a fact to be revealed. These days the cost of IP Video Surveillance systems is coming down dramatically. Due to ‘N’ number of companies manufacturing equipment related to IP based surveillance, the supply is easily meeting the demand and so, the cost of equipment is competitively coming down. Moreover, all those who have/are using IP surveillance equipment conclude that the equipment will surely justify its investment on long run.

Therefore, IP Video Surveillance solutions have surely a bright future ahead.

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