Video surveillance over IP - simply done, but how?
Video over IP is a hot topic these days. But how easy is it really to install these kinds of systems?
The results of market research are unequivocal: the use of video over IP systems is on the rise, and the links between video security technology and IT are becoming closer and closer. A growing number of systems houses are discovering “IP video” as an interesting new business line, and are now offering their customers video surveillance in addition to network infrastructure and IT security as part of a comprehensive company security solution.
But with little or no prior experience with video security technology, many systems houses are sceptical at first, and ask themselves: “How complicated is it to set up a video system?” Indeed, video over IP is essentially not very difficult; after all, it is set up in much the same way as other IP-based systems...
Components of video over IP system
In principle, the simplest video over IP system consists of just two components: a camera, which is connected to a PC with monitor - in other words a workstation. This is all that is needed to display live images. But for practical purposes, it is usually not enough just to be able to view live images. The images have to be recorded so that if any incidents do occur, they can be reconstructed and analysed after the fact.
In order to do this, a third component must be added to the system: a video appliance or recording server. To enable these three components to communicate with each other, they are now connected via a switch. This means the camera is no longer connected directly to the workstation, but to the switch instead - as are the recording server and the workstation. So as is standard practice in networks, a commercial switch serves the function of the common link in a video over IP system as well, and the individual components are addressed using their respective IP addresses.
Now comes one last, important step: configuring the video system. In this process, for example, choices must be made regarding the resolution each camera is to work with, and the frame rate at which recordings are to be made. And the video system is now ready for use!
Configuration, administration made simple via the network
Video over IP systems can be configured and administered very conveniently via the network. Some manufacturers offer special tools for these purposes, for example, the German company Dallmeier with its powerful “PService” application.
PService scans the video network for Dallmeier devices, detects them automatically and presents them for selection in an overview. Both cameras and recording servers are very easy to manage this way. The application's wide range of functions covers everything from changing IP addresses to updates for the camera and server software, as well as user and user rights administration. It is even possible to restart the devices via PService. Incidentally, PService can be downloaded for free from the Dallmeier Partner Forum. Customers who do not yet have access to the Partner Forum can register at no charge. Simply follow this link: www.dallmeier.com/ls/login.
Open and flexible
Video over IP systems are easily expandable, so it is a simple matter to adapt them to the customer's changing needs on-site. Additional components can easily be integrated in the network. Whether the components are extra cameras, recording servers or additional workstations. Smartphones, for example, can also be integrated without difficulty.
The video system can also be integrated in business IT applications via open interfaces - thus becoming an important part of a comprehensive company security solution in which logical and physical security systems mesh seamlessly with one another and are combined to yield a practical total solution.
It's all in the planning
For an IT specialist with knowledge of networks, setting up a functioning video surveillance system would certainly not represent a significant challenge. But in order to ensure the end customer is completely satisfied with his video system, there are still two important points to consider: choosing the right technology and the right installation.
Even before deciding on a given video system, the potential buyer should be thinking about what he wants to achieve with the images afterwards. Is it important just to “see” that something is moving in the area under surveillance, or does he want to be able to “identify” individuals clearly? What are the prevailing light conditions? How long should the images be stored for? These are just three of many considerations that determine the selection of cameras or recording servers. It is also very important to be aware that with a Video over IP system, involving the constant transfer of large quantities of image data, the network is also subject to additional requirements (bandwidth, servers and appliances) that do not apply in the case of an e-mail server, for example.
Therefore, it is essential to use products that have been designed specifically for video security technology, so that they function reliably, and to select the appropriate models on the basis of the end-customer's project requirements. And since even the best equipment is useless if it has been installed incorrectly, a number of important questions must be answered in this regard too, such as: At what height can and should the cameras be mounted? Where are the possible blind spots?
As so often in life in general, so it is true here. It's all in the planning. And the manufacturer Dallmeier offers a solution for this as well, with a powerful yet easy-to-operate tool that can be downloaded at no cost from the Partner Forum: davidplan. With the aid of this program, it is a simple yet professional process not only to calculate (eg, required storage and network capacities), but also to display video surveillance projects graphically. This ensures that no important points get forgotten during planning and the appropriate products for the project can be displayed with a few clicks of the mouse.
If you are looking for a face-to-face meeting or more in-depth advice, please contact the Dallmeier Southern Africa Office.