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Practical Advice On Building in IP Surveillance Reliability

Qognify : 26 January, 2011  (Special Report)
Nice Systems' product manager Guy Lorman provides some key points on design considerations for ensuring resilience and reliability in modern IP surveillance networks
IP video surveillance systems are being deployed extensively in government organisations around the world to detect threats, ensure safety and security, and assist with investigations. For these organisations, video surveillance is a must have, so in turn, ensuring that the system is operable and accessible 24x7x365 is key. A system failure could cause a security breach to go unnoticed, comprising safety and security; and could even result in lost evidence, liability lawsuits, or costly false alarms and evacuations. In this article, we will highlight the different ways that government entities can build resiliency and reliability into their IP video surveillance solution and IP infrastructure.

Today’s IP-based video surveillance solutions are often installed in highly distributed architectures with multiple layers. Addressing resilience on various layers is a concept referred to as Multi Layered Resilience (MLR). MLR’s integrated approach works to ensure continual uptime, even in cases of individual component failure. Below, we will see how MLR addresses each layer to boost overall system resilience.

Reliable IP Networks

The IP network infrastructure is the foundation of today’s video surveillance systems. It carries IP encoded video data from surveillance cameras to decoding devices. A failure or disturbance in the IP network can degrade or even completely stop video streaming, creating a security risk.

There are several steps security operators can take to ensure IP network reliability, beginning with the use of field-proven switching and routing components that have high-availability mechanisms, such as Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) in L2 devices and Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) in L3 devices. To support the redundant structure of an IP network, the video surveillance system itself must provide dual networking interfaces. In this configuration, if a network switch or router fails, video traffic can be automatically routed to an alternative path.

Infrastructure Resilience

The next layer to address are the video surveillance components themselves, starting with video encoders and network video recorders (NVRs). Encoders are used to convert analog video signal into digital video and transport it across the IP network. The NVR, on the other hand, records video streams that originate from encoders onto storage devices. Storage is one of the most critical components in the NVR system because if failure of a storage device means that recorded video won’t be available for investigation purposes.

Here are some ways security operations can be sure their video surveillance encoders and
NVRs are designed for reliability:

* Make sure these devices include dual power supplies, each connected to different power sources. Then, even during a power failure, the video streams will not be affected.

* Use dual fans on devices to ensure the components are cooled properly at all times, even if one of the fans fails.

* Employ dual Network Interface Cards (NICs) so video traffic can be routed through a second interface if necessary.

* Make sure your system has complete encoder and
NVR redundancy. In this configuration, also referred to as “N+1,” a single encoder or NVR can back up a group of encoders or NVRs.

* Use encoders with multicast streaming. Video signals can be delivered directly to edge devices without passing through an
NVR, improving overall system reliability.

* Make sure your
NVRs support Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID). Then, even if a hard disk fails, it is possible to recreate the original data from the remaining disks.

24x7x365 Application and Services Availability

Building resilience and reliability into your networking and video infrastructure will give you confidence that your video is always being streamed and recorded, but it would all be for naught if you couldn’t access and monitor the video. That is the function of the security application, the next layer. Among the most important mechanisms ensuring a resilient and reliable user experience is the Level of Service (LoS) support. LoS is a mechanism that ensures optimal video quality is streamed. The application suite should also employ a Persistent Video Monitoring mechanism. This ensures that the video signal is automatically displayed for users once the data is available. Finally, the overall application must be designed with diagnostic capabilities so that the user is alerted to problems within the system and can perform corrective actions immediately.

Securing your Security Systems

Addressing the management components responsible for the ongoing configuration and maintenance, along with system security, completes the layered approach. Management components must be highly resilient, and should employ high-availability architecture. They should also provide a comprehensive and accurate maintenance alarm application that identifies problems and failures so they can be corrected immediately. And, as with any system based on IP infrastructure, it should be noted that without the proper precautionary measures, IP-based video surveillance systems can be penetrated and even disabled by hacker attacks. Consequently, the IP network itself must be protected against cyber attack with defensive tools.

Government organisations worldwide are lauding
IP video surveillance for its ability to detect threats, mitigate risks and for its operational benefits. Building reliability into your IP video surveillance solution through a Multi Layered Resilience approach can ensure your organisation will be able to take full advantage of all the benefits that IP video surveillance has to offer.
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