IP Video solutions are increasingly being used in several industries due to its numerous benefits. You can easily keep a check on activities happening at a remote location by using IP video surveillance system. This system also scores over the old analog CCTV systems. IP is a very flexible and affordable surveillance technology and you can easily check the recorded footage later as per needs. IP surveillance systems are scalable and can be installed in any industry without any problems.
BENEFITS OF NETWORK VIDEO
Video surveillance has come a long way since CCTV devices. IP based video surveillance is much more improved and gives much better protection than the CCTV devices. The IP video surveillance solutions are much simpler and hassle free and provide much better facilities and benefits. IP based video surveillance is very easily accessible through internet. Using internet, the users can get constant live camera feeds via internet access. The videos captured by the IP set up can be broadcasted over any IP network or internet. The access can also be availed on a mobile phone or different types of hand held devices.
Scalability of the IP based surveillance systems is one of its major advantages. It is very easy to expand the network of the IP surveillance system with growing security needs. All you need to do is add extra IP cameras to the existing IP network. These cameras can be situated anywhere along the network and there is no hassle of complex and expensive cabling.
IMPROVED STORAGE CAPABILITIES
The storage facilities of an IP camera are quite useful. With increased storage facilities and improved methods, the archive can be dug up for any of the stored videos with ease. This kind of a set up is far more convenient than the previous analog surveillance devices which stores the videos on VHS cassette tapes.
An IP camera allows you to capture and transmit video footage through an IP network. Using this advanced technology, you can easily watch and save the video images over both local and remote locations. With this viewing and managing of video recording is also hassle free. The camera placement is determined by the availability of the IP network connection. Each camera has an IP address and there is no need to connect the camera to a computer.
There are types of IP cameras that can survey and record multiple video streams using various types of compression tools. This aids in archiving and live viewing. Apart from video coverage, the IP cameras can perform other tasks too, like motion detection, automated alerting, ‘intelligent’ video analytics, audio surveillance and also be connected to alarms as a part of the security system. They can also be used in combination with other types of security systems. Major IP camera brands are Vivotek, Acti and Axis IP cameras boast of features like flexible installation, stability, high quality pictures, user friendly and scalability. Their major benefit is that, they can be easily integrated to IP network anytime.
TYPES OF IP CAMERAS
Following are some of the common types of IP cameras –
FIXED IP CAMERAS
Fixed IP cameras are perfect to be used as surveillance cameras that are required to survey a specific location and is installed in a way that it is distinctly visible. Fixed camera, once installed at a location will survey only that particular location. Most of the fixed cameras favor the housings and also permit convenient usage of interchangeable lenses.
FIXED DOME CAMERAS Fixed dome cameras are compact and functional and have a dome shaped. A fixed camera is fixed inside the dome shaped housing. This camera can be directed anywhere, and it will survey only that location at which it is pointed. Fixed dome cameras boast of excellent features like uninterrupted surveillance and durable housing makes the direction at which it is aimed ambiguous to the observer.
PTZ cameras are much more flexible as compared to the above mentioned fixed cameras. With the PTZ cameras, you can control camera features like zooming, tilting and pan functions which aids in monitoring wider spaces and zeroing down on a particular spot, objects or individuals. PTZ cameras can be operated either manually or automatically.
NETWORK DOME CAMERAS
Network dome cameras have an edge over the fixed and PTZ cameras in that they have an exceptional capacity of panning to about 360 degrees and also they support the continual ‘guard tour’ processes. The ‘guard tour’ function provides this camera the ability to travel between presets automatically which aids in covering vast areas, which in normal circumstances would have demanded numerous fixed cameras.
Focal length is a major factor determining the horizontal pitch for observation from a particular distance. Longer the focal length, narrower the observation field gets.
Lens exerts two types of iris control – manual or automatic. Applying manual iris control, the lens is adjusted to a particular average value so that it is conducive to use it in varying light conditions. For applying automatic iris control, DC auto iris lenses are preferred for outdoor setup and in places where there is dynamic changes in light in the course of a day. These lenses can adapt to the light variations.
Any video surveillance system requires video management software. A video management software makes use of various tools that aid in observing, recording and analyzing the video footage. For remote viewing, a standard web browser will suffice, however to manage video recording from multiple cameras a video management software is needed.
A standard IP video software is basically equipped for observing, recording and recovering video coverage. Currently, there are much more advanced versions of NVR software available. They can be used for observing multiple cameras in a synchronized fashion and also has multiple modes of recording. Unlike the standard IP video software, the advanced versions can be used to handle large picture files, boast of fast search capabilities and high frame rates. They also offer the facility of remote access via web browser with mobile phones or other types of handheld systems. There are few highly advanced version of this software which provide intelligent surveillance in combination with video analytics like facial recognition and advanced motion detection.
NETWORK CAMERA CONSIDERATIONS
IP cameras are available in various types of versions and models which offer countless surveillance possibilities. Network camera is basically an amalgamation of camera and computer which permits capturing and transmission of videos across an IP network. This transmission could be local or remote. The IP cameras can be easily linked to any IP network and over the analog surveillance devices with regards to features like scalability, cost effectiveness, flexibility, remote monitoring and digital storage capacity. Expanding of network is extremely easy. All you have to do is connect the IP camera to the IP network. The network camera should be set up according to the surveillance requirements.
Things to be considered for IP cameras
Image sensors are used to build network cameras. These image sensors come in various sizes like ¼, 1/3, and 2/3 inch sensors. The lenses of the cameras need to work in coordination with these camera sensors in order to obtain the picture of optimum quality with having the information or the black corners tampered. So, it is always advisable to use lenses that are similar to the image sensors with regards to size.
Power over Ethernet (PoE)
With Power over Ethernet (or PoE) technology LAN enabled services can work on IP network infrastructure through Ethernet cabling. IP systems with POE cameras also work using this technology. Ethernet cable provides power to each camera of the IP system and enables transmitting data.
One major advantage of Power over Ethernet technology is that it permits extreme flexibility in the use of cameras. With PoE, cameras can be installed as and where required and not necessarily where the AC sockets are available. This is possible because, the power required is supplied directly to cameras through data ports and also to the other network devices that are integrated in the same network. Even more flexibility can be obtained by integrating wireless LAN technology.
Another important benefit offered by PoE technology is that it makes the UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) installation for the video surveillance set up very convenient and easy and this proves a boon, since video surveillance set up is required to work 24*7, i.e. even during power cuts.
There are times where wired surveillance technology proves impractical like when the position of the cameras have to be constantly changed or cameras have to removed and re fixed or. It becomes a complex and cumbersome process. These kinds of circumstances call for wireless solutions. The prominent wireless communication modes include the ‘Wireless bridges’ and Wireless LANs (also called as WLAN which stands for Wireless Local Area Network). Generally, the wireless networks have set standards. ‘Wireless Bridges’ are used to link together multiple sites or buildings by using point-to-point data link which permits transfer of data or information across longer distances at high speeds.
With the launching of megapixel cameras, traditional security cameras have now started to lose their ground. The technology for video-surveillance has been upgraded by leaps and bounds with these megapixel cameras and the higher resolution facilitated by them not only gives clear pictures as well as videos but has greatly enhanced the camera’s ‘field of view’ without nay deterioration in picture details as compared to the megapixel camera. The megapixel cameras greatly accentuate the quality of images it records and produce high-definition live-video-streams.
‘Megapixel IP-cameras’ are of great use and significance, especially in the domain of surveillance applications, and their picture and video details lend great use in the purpose of identifying. This is most essential in the case of secured areas like banks, airports, etc.
There are many places like construction sites, retail stores, casinos and parking lots where many security cameras need to be installed for monitoring the area. But with these megapixel cameras the scenario has changed. Now with even a single megapixel camera, you can survey these places instead of using many traditional surveillance cameras for the same purpose. Thus, a single megapixel camera can now monitor an entire parking lot and with these high- resolution cameras, the operators at the surveillance desk have been enabled to zoom into the portions of the recorded scenes. With these cameras, it would be fairly simple to identify people as well as spot license plate-numbers of the vehicles. With the cost incurred in purchasing these cameras is coming down because the technology is quite commonly available nowadays, the use of these megapixel cameras in case of surveillance applications is sure to see an upswing in the near future.
VIDEO COMPRESSION STANDARDS
In IP technology, video compression is a vital function. Video compression helps make optimum use of the given storage capacity and bandwidth by decreasing the size of the recorded video files, thereby, making more space for other files. But, different compression softwares or tools retain the quality of the compressed files at different levels. All these compression softwares aim at providing best compression tools to get maximum quality.
Motion JPEG is a widely used compression standard which most network cameras apply. Motion JPEG permits the network camera to put forth the video in the form of JPEG series individually. Its frame rate is approximately sixteen frames per second or greater and this rate is adjustable. This rate value is regarded as the ‘full motion video’.
MPEG-4 is another type of compression tool that IP cameras use for video compression. Usage of MPEG-4 decreased the bit rate of the pictures in order to meet the image quality standards and this is very vital to obtain surveillance application boasting of high precision.
H.264 is the latest and an improved version of MPEG-4 and Motion JPEG utilized for video compression. This version successfully reduces the digital file size without tampering the image quality. Apart from this, it offers better megapixel camera performance, higher resolution, improved frame rate, bandwidth costs and decreased storage.
VIDEO SURVEILLANCE MANAGEMENT
The capacity of the network cameras to digitally transmit data via IP network makes the information easily accessible on a wider scale. A user irrespective of his location can easily gain access to the transmitted digital data by using the web standard browser. IP video handling software enables advanced capturing and recording.
RECORDING AND LIVE MONITORING
IP-based surveillance system offers remote video monitoring, excellent recording and storage features.
REMOTE MONITORING WITH INTERNET
One of the major advantages of an IP based surveillance system is that video can be accessed on any computer system included in the network that has internet access. Each camera integrated to the network has a distinct IP address, so all you need is the respective IP address to watch the video on web browser.
MONITORING WITH IP VIDEO SOFTWARE
Using the video management software users can enjoy excellent flexibility while managing, monitoring and viewing the camera systems on the network. The video management software solutions include the requisite programs that are designed in such a way that the IP system can be accessed simultaneously from varied locations. The video management software allows for simultaneous monitoring of several cameras, recording, alarm notification and many other functions.
NETWORK VIDEO RECORDING
The video recording or the video feeds of an IP camera can be stored in two ways. The video recording is either recorded in the hard drive which is then uploaded onto the FTP server or the recording could be stored on a Network Video Recorder. The video management software thus, improves the event management and makes the whole process of recording and managing much more effective. This software also makes possible uninterrupted and scheduled recording.
Perhaps, scalability is IP based surveillance system’s most advantageous feature. It is extremely simple and convenient to add in more and more cameras to the network without having to go through the trouble of meddling with complicated and cumbersome cabling like you would have to with analog devices. All you have to do is link in the extra cameras to the IP network with a respective IP address. PoE (Power over Ethernet) and ‘wireless network cameras’ provide flexibility by allowing installation of cameras in spite of no accessible power source or outlet.
Since, it is the PC server that detects and manages the video recording in the IP surveillance system, the scope of scalability and expansion is infinite. Different kinds of servers can be selected depending on the camera in use and the frame rate that is required.
Video management software is generally in built within the IP camera. Video motion detection is a process by which the camera begins to record or perform certain other functions like broadcasting when it detects any sort of movements within its arena.
The characteristic feature of the motion detectors is that it will only record in case it detects any sort of movements or activity, thereby, limiting the recording process and conserving the bandwidth and making more use of the limited storage space. All these factors alleviate the load off the CPU and permits integration of other devices like alarms and access control system. A motion detector system can be programmed in such a way so as to adjust the frame rate suited to detect any sort of motion. The motion detector softwares can be programmed to perform functions like saving pictures at beginning or the end of an event, transmitting the images or pictures to allocated locations for monitoring purposes, sending alerts, emails, sounding off alarms etc.
Audio support come installed with many IP camera models. This audio support could be external or inbuilt microphones that aid in listening and capturing audio activity in the area marked for surveillance. Some types of audio recording include two way audio transmissions to and from external speaker and microphones. Audio transmission system is easy to install in the IP based surveillance system. After the audio feeds are recorded, they can be sent across network to desired location for further monitoring and analyzing. Audio transmission is analogous to video transmission. Audio recordings can be performed within the camera’s range just like video recordings. Also audio recordings can be carried out in remote places. Audio detection is an important function which can be used to trigger off alarms or sound alerts by detecting any audio activity.
DIGITAL INPUT AND OUTPUT
Most network related devices like an IP camera come with several input and output ports that are meant to connect and inter connect cameras or other devices with various external devices like the alarm systems, smoke detectors, sound and motion detectors etc. These interconnected devices communicate with each other via different in built features within the camera or a PC that is connected to the network.
An input port is meant to connect devices like sensors and detectors, whereas, an output port helps in triggering the external devices for performing various functions like video transmission, triggering off an alarm etc.
The video transmission gets limited via the digital input and output ports in that the video is transmitted along the network only in case of triggering of an interconnected device by audio or motion detectors etc. This way, the bandwidth is used economically, and this in turn helps in conserving storage space. Various automatic triggering processes like sending automated messages via mail or phone, activation of lights, emergency alarms etc. can be carried out using these digital input and output ports.
Video analytics is a very important part of the video surveillance process which aids in post investigation activity to detect any sort of suspicious on goings. The Video Analytics is a type of an algorithm and sophisticated application software which is required for analyzing the video feeds recorded by the IP based surveillance devices.
Many functions like facial recognition, audio detection, advanced motion detections, behavioral recognition etc. belong to the video analytics category. With the advent of IP based surveillance systems, video analytics technology has gained a big boost and is widely used in locations demanding high security like government buildings, banks, airports etc. Facial recognition has become popular means of individual identification and has been adopted by several banks in the recent times to reduce the incidences of crime and fraud. Video analytics software can be used in collaboration with the video management software or can be integrated to the network on its own.
The video analytics technology is still in its nascent stages and is still under surveillance. Once this technology further improves, it would prove to be a great detractor of crimes by increasing the response time and also by reducing the false alarm incidences.
SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM CONSIDERATIONS
The IP based surveillance system should be installed only after taking a few important points into consideration. Since these network cameras transact information via IP network, the bandwidth optimization should be considered. Another important aspect to be considered is the storage capacity and capability of the IP device. A lot of questions related to storage need to be answered like, how much time will it require to archive the video storage?; will the picture quality be good enough? And so on. Other aspects like scalability, security and quality need to be looked into before deciding and setting up the IP surveillance system. Your requirements should be aptly met with the surveillance system that you are planning to set up.
VIDEO STORAGE & ARCHIVAL
One major reason why IP-based surveillance outdoes the analog CCTV devices is that while CCTV device stores the data onto cassette tapes, the IP based surveillance system stores the information directly onto the hard disk. This feature enhances the search capabilities and storage capacity. Also it saves time in that it allows quick sifting through the video archives.
The hard disk storage space can be calculated based on certain factors like the number of cameras that are currently integrated into the network, if the videos are being recorder continuously or at some stipulated times, time required to store the data onto the hard disk, level of image quality expected etc.
The whole point of using video surveillance devices is to augment the level of security and evade intrusion of privacy. A surveillance device user needs to be completely assured and convinced that no unauthorized individual can gain access to the video feeds and tamper with it. IP based surveillance set up makes it very simple to protect the recorded information from intrusion of any sort. Generally, the network camera encrypts the video feeds before they are broadcasted on the network, thereby ensuring only authorized access and viewing of the video feeds. Various systems adopt different types of authentication and password safety techniques which prevents unauthorized access and hacking.
WPA or the WiFi Protected Access is regarded as the basis of wireless network security, in the case of wireless IP cameras. WPA technology encrypts each video and alters the key to each broadcasted frame using TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol). There are other types of improved security standards for dealing with the wireless network cameras like AES, 802.1xauthentication and WPA2.
Digital watermarking is another method for tightening the security on the network video feeds. Watermarks contain information like the location, user activity and time and the time stamping could bug the person who accessed the videos by constructing a trail which makes note of any edits made to the video.
Pixels determine a camera’s resolution. The resolution of the camera increases with increase in pixels. High resolution in the camera will permit capturing of greater amount of information of an image. The resolution of the IP camera should be adjusted as per your surveillance requirements. As the resolution of a picture increases, so will your requirement of the bandwidth. So, you can make optimal utilization of the available bandwidth by deciding on the level of resolution that will suffice.
Frame rate greatly affects the bandwidth usage. By keeping the frame rate in control, the usage of the bandwidth can be reduced efficiently. There are a couple of methods to do this. One of the ways is to have a surveillance device installed that increases the frame rate on detecting movements or activities. Another way is to broadcast the increased frame rates in place of the lower frame rates and substitute local viewing for remote viewing over the internet.