Back in August, we started examining the Top 10 issues and trends affecting IP surveillance. In our first installment, we looked at bandwidth, storage, and security issues; our second dealt with hardware issues, including switches, Power over Ethernet (PoE), and PC-based servers. In this post, we’ll wrap up with another four areas where technology trends have an impact on the decisions you’ll be making about your IP surveillance installation.

1. Cloud computing

It’s been a favoured buzzword in IT circles for several years now, but the cloud computing era is very much upon us now. Whether in a public environment, where tenancy on servers is shared with other customers, or in a private environment, where your data and applications are the only ones on a system, cloud computing brings three advantages to your network—redundancy, scalability and shifting costs from capital expenditure (CAPEX) to operating expenditure (OPEX). Depending on whether your cloud is hosted or whether you run it yourself, there may be the added convenience of leaving upgrades, updates and patches—routine maintenance—in the hands of a third party.

Scalability doesn’t just factor in if you’re adding more cameras. You can access more compute and storage resources if, for example, you decide to use a higher resolution or faster frame rate (and you can scale down if you choose to do the opposite). If you want to run analytics on the video data you’ve collected or analyze customer traffic patterns, for example, the processing capacity is there when you need it, and you’re not paying for it when you don’t.

A frequent deal-breaker for IT departments looking at public cloud computing is the perception that there are security issues. Surveys routinely show security fears as the biggest roadblock to cloud adoption. I’d argue that if best security practices are applied, a cloud computing environment is no less secure than an on-premise environment. There have been reports of cloud security breaches, but the most costly intrusions, were of on-premise data centers.

As with any hosted service, the key to leveraging the advantages of cloud computing, and maintaining its security, rests with the highest quality service level agreement (SLA) you can get from your service provider.

2. Mobility

There’s about a 50-50 chance you’re reading this on a smartphone. As they have become more powerful and the number of applications available has skyrocketed, mobile devices—smart phones, tablets, netbooks, etc.—are playing a bigger role in our computing experience. In the IP surveillance arena, the primary roles of the mobile device are remote monitoring and control. If an event triggers an alert to your mobile device, it’s possible to see in real-time what’s happening onsite, change the frame rate of capture if necessary, and control pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) cameras, all from your handheld device.

3. Analytics

Chances are you’ve read about the big data revolution, but most analytics are run on comparatively small sets of data. This is where the IP revolution changes the surveillance camera from a forensic tool aimed at solving problems after the fact to part of a proactive chain. Video images can be used in conjunction with analytic horsepower to discover customer traffic patterns in a retail outlet, dwell time at certain displays or isolate bottlenecks. Mash that up with other structured and unstructured data sources—transit schedules, lists of promotions, pricing data from your competitors, social media—and a skilled data scientist can tease out patterns and relationships that you never knew existed. And that is a competitive advantage.

4. Infrastructure choices

Most of the issues we’ve discussed in these three posts affect basic infrastructure decisions. There are many possibilities, and since you’re building your entire surveillance regimen on top of it, the decisions you make about your infrastructure are critical. With most elements of your surveillance infrastructure, you have on-premise and hosted options. That includes your compute resources, your storage resources, and your analytics resources. But on-premise versus hosted is not an either-or proposition. Hybrid infrastructures are becoming more popular, with some data and applications held in-house, and others moved to the cloud for scalability.

You’ve also got to consider connectivity—should you go wired or wireless? Do you call the electrical engineers or go power over Ethernet? Where will you locate camera, and where will their control lie?

The technology changes quickly, so an infrastructure that’s relatively open is important if you’re going to want to upgrade cameras or incorporate new functionality.

The power of Internet protocol surveillance opens the door to many new applications, but also requires drilling down into a number of infrastructure, software and hardware considerations. Make sure your network’s ready before taking the plunge.

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