The expansion of IP CCTV
Whilst initially the move to IP CCTV may have been a slow one, today, given the realisation of the practical, and economic benefits on the ground, it has become very much the norm for surveillance with the roll-out of ever more ambitious, intelligent, scalable and powerful solutions. Understandably, the technology has come under close scrutiny as its expansion continues.Pauline Norstrom, Chairman of the British Security Industry Association’s (BSIA) CCTV section, reports.
When it comes to video surveillance there is little doubt that the transition from stand-alone solutions to a reliance on IP-based networked infrastructure has facilitated a major step change in the way that CCTV systems are designed, installed and managed. One of the key practical gains that IP CCTV offers is, undoubtedly, the ability for sites, whatever their size, to see the 'bigger picture' for the security and safety of their operations by readily integrating disparate CCTV elements across a specific location or, even, from multiple locations. But the benefits to be gained through moving to IP Video are not just those of scalability; HD (high definition) video, could not be achieved historically through the use of analogue cameras, and in many cases, standard definition IP video systems did not offer a sufficiently strong tangible benefit over their more successful, low light sensitive CCD based analogue counterparts - in order to stimulate a switch in technology.
Of course the expansion of networked CCTV has, not surprisingly, thrown up a number of significant issues in terms of how images are stored, distributed, managed and archived for effective retrieval. Moreover, the requirement to manage the demands placed on the network have also been brought into focus, even more so with the advent of HD (High Definition) CCTV, which is offering a greater level of detail in high risk areas and, by its very nature, if not managed correctly may impose problematic demands on a networked solution. At first glance, this may appear to necessitate investment in greater bandwidth capacity. Thankfully, this is not necessarily the case and this issue can be readily addressed by taking a 'bigger picture' look at where high resolution evidential quality images are stored, and then using methods such as transcoding to distribute lower resolution footage on demand. This means that the CCTV footage can be readily viewed to manage incidents from any authorised point on the network with the reassurance that a higher quality version is available if required to help secure a conviction.
With any security infrastructure, however, return-on-investment is a foremost consideration in the minds of end users, and the pressure placed on the systems to prove cost effective and economically feasible shows IP CCTV is no exception. Now that manufacturers are bringing to market affordable HD IP cameras which also offer light sensitivity benefits over and above analogue cameras, we are seeing steps being taken to address the economics of transitioning a significant analogue camera estate in the UK to IP CCTV, through user-friendly 'hybrid' infrastructure. A key tenet to the success of legacy analogue and IP video integration is the adoption of “zero conf” networking technology applied in a management layer within IP Video products in order to create plug and play, secure, hardened IP Video systems. This ‘hybrid’ infrastructure allows a more favourable cost of ownership to be secured and funds to be targeted so that an extensive surveillance capability can be provided.
Looking ahead, there is little doubt that IP video surveillance is now very much at the forefront when it comes to the delivery of CCTV and, with its expansion has come a much better understanding of the best practice measures that need to be adopted in order to continue to broaden the scope and the potential of this technology.
The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) is the professional trade association of the UK security industry. Its members produce over 70 per cent of the country’s security products and services to strict quality standards. For further information on the BSIA’s CCTV section, visit www.bsia.co.uk/cct