Friday, March 12, 2010

The New World of Video Surveillance

By Tim Dodge, product business unit leader, TESSCO Technologies
Reprinted from The Wireless Journal, January/February 2010

We have entered a new realm in the world of video surveillance. Gone are the days of the security guard tethered to a dedicated desktop monitor, reacting to unfolding events within a closed environment. With today’s advancements in Internet protocol-based network infrastructures, management of video surveillance can be a much more valuable endeavor.

Remote Video Monitoring and Surveillance (RVMaS) is defined as the ability to view, monitor, manage and react to video security information -- all from a remote location. This enables a new paradigm of thinking in terms of how video surveillance is used to protect people and assets. By leveraging today’s technology advancements, high-quality, actionable information can be pushed to the network edge with impressive velocity and reliability. The result is a much more agile management infrastructure that can allow more efficient coverage, rapid communication, and proactive management that lowers overall security risk.

Regardless of the underlying technology, a well-designed video surveillance system can accomplish a variety of goals, including the deterrence of undesirable behaviors and the ability to respond with rapidity and effectiveness in the event that there is an incident. But today’s technology revolution, driven by a number of industries, is providing a helping hand to the security industry, and is allowing security experts to excel in risk mitigation by introducing the concepts of mobility and remote monitoring into the security lexicon.

At the heart of this revolution are technologies that were developed for other applications but which are now finding their way into the security industry. These technologies can be summarized in Table 1.

How do these advancements really benefit a company that relies on video surveillance and access control to lower risk? The answer can be summed up in one phrase -- lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) -- and there are many factors that contribute to this lower TCO, including the utilization of an existing IP network. In most cases, video surveillance end users have already invested substantial amounts of capital in robust and reliable network infrastructures that include all or most of the aforementioned advanced technologies.

Now that video can be rapidly pushed to many people simultaneously, regardless of physical location, the potential exists for improved response times in the event of an incident. By combining the capability with advanced analytics, systems can often predict events before they happen. In cases where this occurs, system Return On Investment (ROI) is immeasurably high.

One concern in the security industry is that the underlying technologies enabling the IP revolution are daunting. This is simply not the case. These solutions have been evolving for decades, and there is a wealth of training information available to get even the most devoted technophobe up and running in a short period of time. Available information and coursework on networking technology often covers all of the technologies required to hit the ground running.

Additionally, there is substantial overlap between the technologies used in traditional CCTV video surveillance and those of the IP generation. A well-trained technician, who understands cameras, DVR storage technology, and cabling, will have no problem coming up to speed on IP networking technology.

IP networking technology is driving the convergence between the security and information technology industries. This convergence makes sense in most cases because it offers an increase in performance and provides stakeholders with the actionable intelligence they need to safely manage their environments.

Remote monitoring is a reality today because of the leveraging of several technologies that were originally devised for different applications. The large market opportunities for these technologies -- many borne of consumer or commercial need -- warranted trillions of dollars of investment from which the security industry is now benefiting. While remote monitoring seems to be new and unproven, it is actually built upon time-tested technologies that have been validated in other mission-critical applications.

Now that the technology foundation has been laid, the next step will be for the security industry to devise new and innovative ways to capitalize on these technologies to lower cost, lower risk, and maximize the value of the deployments that are installed moving forward.

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