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The benefits of upgrading to IP surveillance

TFM Networks : 02 November, 2007  (Technical Article)
Changing to an IP camera environments reduces costs and utilises existing infrastructure as explained by Stewart Yates of TFM Networks.
It won't come as a major surprise if I tell you that video surveillance is big business. With an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras operating in the UK - roughly one camera for every 14 people - we are the most watched country in the Western world.

The benefits to society and to business of CCTV are well documented - it's made a real difference in cutting crime in our towns and within business, especially within the retail, financial and manufacturing sectors. However, the traditional videotape approach to surveillance does have its downsides, including expensive installation and running costs, easily disposable and corruptible tapes, and poor picture quality impeding prosecution.

The good news is that there is a way of simultaneously reducing your surveillance costs whilst getting an altogether more intelligent, focussed CCTV system capable of monitoring and protecting key areas of your business in a more proactive way, by using your existing IP network infrastructure.

The concept of a fully-converged, multi-application voice and data network has become increasingly compelling over recent years, as IP costs continue to fall, and network resilience, performance and quality of service continue to improve.
Adding IP CCTV to the existing network is the next logical step for many businesses, as it not only boosts the scope of surveillance, but also centralises security operations and maintenance, eliminates the need to lay additional cables and removes the issue of buying and then storing the actual video cassettes.

The biggest benefit for businesses is that they are simply adding a new application to an already existing system. Adding CCTV to this network further reduces infrastructure costs and improves cost-effectiveness and overall ROI.
Many organisations already have in place an IP network infrastructure that serves their telephony and computer networks, point-of-sale, ATM and credit card acquiry systems and other key business applications. It's a simple and low-cost process to add a network access point to install a camera and link it up to the business network, and with none of the support and re-cabling costs of the non-digital alternative. With the readiness and availability of power over Ethernet products, getting power to the devices is now even easier too.

Digital surveillance systems have streamlined security management dramatically while also proving an altogether more powerful business tool. IP CCTV has removed the need for a dedicated onsite security room and security personnel at every bank, retail outlet or manufacturing base.

Instead, a centralised security team can monitor events in real-time across multiple branches and locations - even internationally - for a more rapid and targeted response when required. This approach also supports flexible and remote working, with support staff able to securely monitor events from an external PC or PDA.
Running CCTV over the network infrastructure also eliminates physical videotapes - removing the need for them to be changed and stored onsite, all of which incurs additional cost. With IP CCTV, you can transmit thousands of images in digital format, which can be viewed and then securely stored offsite, with manageable impact on the company network.

Another advantage of running surveillance over the IP network is that recording is done in standard PC formats such as jpeg and mpeg, which are all automatically time-stamped for easy identification, and which are easily shared between users.

A key benefit of IP-based CCTV is the flexibility of the digital medium. Images can be distributed to police or security personnel quickly and easily, and can also be circulated to multiple branches or locations, to ensure a more rapid and proactive approach to preventing crime.

The IP approach also puts CCTV out of the reach of the criminal. With images recorded in real-time and then stored securely on the hard drive on- or off-site, they cannot be accessed or tampered with by any intruder, ensuring evidence remains secure, untouched and court-admissible.

Digital surveillance is also playing an important role in securing more criminal convictions for offences such as theft and break-ins. Higher quality digital images and advanced system functionality such as face mapping and automatic number plate recognition are admissible in court, and are helping businesses to progress with a greater proportion of prosecutions.

Running IP CCTV over your network infrastructure also enables businesses to adopt a more targeted, event-driven approach to security. IP Cameras can be linked up to key areas within a business, such as ATM machines, points of sale and entrances, and configured to automatically activate and record when any suspect credit transaction is detected, or when a fire door is opened, for more intelligence-led security.

This ensures that images can be recorded and accessed when an incident occurs, but remain passive when nothing is happening, avoiding unnecessary use of network resources and bandwidth.

Remote, targeted monitoring and recording reduces the number of false alarms, and helps to qualify a security situation at an early stage, reducing the need for expensive call-outs from the police or private security firms.

IP CCTV may possibly spell the end for the security guy watching hours and hours of surveillance screens, when nothing is actually happening. Too bad. Official Government Statistics have proven that security guards continually watching a control screen will pick up only 4% of events occurring. If the security guard is being alerted to the events he is picking up 100%.

IP CCTV also heralds a new approach to security - one which is event-driven, and an effective tool in proactively managing and cutting crime in your business.
The simplicity, cost-effectiveness and advanced capabilities of IP CCTV speak for themselves - isn't it time your business opened its eyes to IP?

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