Networked Video

By Edward Brown | Oct 15, 2008
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Networked video is a huge success in the marketplace. Fiber optic cabling has allowed the widespread distribution of this valuable tool for security and control functions. There is much money to be made in video.

After Sept., 11, 2001, the demand for, and focus on, security shot up. Thanks to Internet protocol (IP), we can network security and many other services inside and outside the workplace.

At this point in the development of IP-linked building systems, security cameras are extremely popular. Since a typical security camera installation involves a number of cameras sending information that needs to be assimilated, IP is a natural. If all of the cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs) are linked to a single network, the images, live or recorded, can be scanned, compared and used to send information to other linked systems.

According to IMS Research, “Network video surveillance is without doubt one of the fastest growing markets in the security industry … the long-term outlook for the market is very positive. The trend from analogue CCTV to network video surveillance is still in the early stages … IMS Research anticipates that the trend to network video surveillance will be ongoing over a number of years, ensuring high growth for the long term.”

The lack of a universally accepted communications standard has hindered the progress of networked video. A recent joint press release from three major manufacturers—Axis Communications, Bosch Security Systems and Sony Corp.—indicated they are teaming up. According to the release, they “will be cooperating to create an open forum aimed at developing a standard for the interface of network video products … The new [proposed] standard is expected to comprise interfaces for specifications such as video streaming, device discovery, intelligence metadata, etc. The framework of the standard, incorporating the key elements of network video product interoperability, will be released in October 2008 at the Security show in Essen, Germany.”

Unless there is a commonly accepted open communications standard, users will not be able to interconnect components from different manufacturers. And an open standard will help developers design the software required to make the systems run.

A number of companies are expanding their offerings to take advantage of the possibilities. Speco Technologies ( has added digital cameras and DVRs with IP connectivity using Speco Internet Protocol (SIP). Its components are usable on typical enterprise Ethernet networks and are compatible with other manufacturer’s equipment and most third-party software.

Johnson Controls’ Metasys system ( combines hardware and software to manage IP-based devices and also provides gateways to allow legacy devices not designed for IP control to join the network. Terry Hoffmann, director, BAS marketing, said there are three levels to Johnson Controls’ IP building system integration system: server, network automation engine (supervisory controller), and application controller (field controller). The applications and data server software is downloaded to a system computer and directly ties into the user’s existing building network. The automation engine supervises interactions between the network and specific devices by means of application controllers—for example, access control door locks. The building’s security IT department can arrange to have the surveillance cameras’ supervisory software send data and control commands to the Metasys Network Automation Engine, which can then appropriately interact with other systems throughout the building.

“The whole point of using IP-based controllers is to have a highway where standard protocols can communicate between devices. It enables people to apply standards to communicate across a network that, because it’s in the building, is open and accessible and is managed by a professional group—the IT department,” Hoffmann said.

Supervisory software is critical, since IP connectivity is only useful if software manages the interconnected devices. With many cameras and recorders connected to a network, there is a large amount of data to be organized and understood.

“What good is recording a shoplifting incident unless someone is observing it and can initiate an apprehension?” asked Eric Fullerton, chief sales and marketing officer, Milestone Systems, in an online white paper (

Video analytics helps increase the productivity and efficiency of the security staff. “Video analytics, video intelligence and video content analysis are all terms for the ability to mathematically detect, recognize and analyze objects and events using digitized video,” Fullerton said.

On-Net Surveillance Systems Inc. ( has introduced Ocularis surveillance software. It allows security professionals to identify incidents, notify and inform the appropriate personnel on- and off-site, and efficiently manage actions to be taken. It records all cameras for archival use and employs analytics to detect and filter events. Not only are fewer people required to monitor live activity, but also, less bandwidth is used.

BROWN is an electrical engineer, technical writer and editor. He serves as managing editor for SECURITY + LIFE SAFETY SYSTEMS magazine. For many years, he designed high-power electronics systems for industry, research laboratories and government. Reach him at [email protected].

About The Author

Edward Brown is an electrical engineer, freelance writer and editor who draws on his years of practical experience designing industrial processing and high-power electronics systems. In addition to writing the Integrated Building Systems column for Electrical Contractor as The Writing Engineer, he covers the world of cutting-edge technology, automation, alternate energy, energy conservation and fire alarm and security systems. He was Managing Editor of Security and Life Safety Systems and NEC Digest Magazines. Reach him at [email protected].


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