We Must Be Ever Vigilant

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "If you see something, say something," as he called for the public's help to be on watch for terrorist.

In the wake of the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, the market in the United States and abroad has energized the focus on security. Security is one of the revenue growth areas for the contractor in today's dismal economy.

John Maisel, Publisher of Electrical Contractor magazine said, "Electrical contractors have expanded their scope of activity to include design, specification and service across a broad spectrum of integrated systems. Driven in part by the attacks of 9/11, and the evolving demands of owners for more and more sophisticated, totally integrated security, life safety and control/communication systems, the electrical contractor is ideally positioned to become the contractor of choice."

Change is inevitable. Accept change and survive. Embrace change and flourish.

If you need to address your security, you might start with a complete end-to-end surveillance system including cameras, monitors and storage. You begin by calling your reliable electrical contractor with the capabilities to design/build your solution. You could just go buy the parts, but you might end up with an expensive non-working system.

Electrify, illuminate, communicate and much more
Beginning with providing the power distribution network in the structure and then installing the lighting system, the electrical contractor has also included the design and installation of the low-voltage cabling to serve the telecommunications and datacom information technology network. In many cases that is just the beginning.

Electrical contractors have been expanding the scope of services they provide. Security is a growing revenue stream reaching flood proportions.

When we looked at security, we found that public and private sectors are installing many new surveillance systems, one of the most popular steps to enhanced security. Today, surveillance can be transmitted to the client over the Internet (using Internet protocol).

There are many areas of the hardware and software selection that must be "mated" properly for best results. A properly trained and licensed contractor is the best bet.

Surveillance—IP and analog
Here are some of the components that are involved:

• Cameras
• Video management software
• Network servers and storage
• Network video recorders
• Digital video recorders
• Network switches
• UTP and fiber video transmission systems
• Power over Ethernet midspans/panels
• Lenses
• Illuminators
• Monitors
• Racks, cabinets and consoles
• Mounts and housings
• Power supplies, backup and protection

Digital vs. analog
Why go with the new digital network video surveillance system? The digital, network video surveillance system provides a host of benefits and advanced functionalities that cannot be provided by an analog video surveillance system. The advantages include remote accessibility, high image quality, event management and intelligent video capabilities, easy integration possibilities and better scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. However, that does not mean you have to discard your existing analog investments. Video encoders, rack solutions and video decoders enable a cost-effective way to integrate your analog surveillance installations and gain the benefits of professional network video technology.

Video encoders (video servers)
Video encoders, sometimes referred to as video servers, contain a compression chip and an operating system so that incoming analog video can be converted into digital video, transmitted and recorded over the computer network for easier accessibility and viewing, which enables users to view live images on any local or remote computer on a network. A video encoder can also provide a multitude of advanced functionalities, such as distributed video motion detection, tampering alarm, event management, and integrated audio support. Furthermore, it provides a foundation for more intelligent video functionalities such as number plate recognition and people counting, etc.

Image quality
Some video encoders provide image fine-tuning and aspect ratio correction, which ensures that images do not appear distorted when viewed on a computer screen. High performance video encoders provide full frame rate (30 fps in NTSC) in all resolutions for all video channels. Furthermore, unlike their analog counterparts, digital images retain their quality regardless of the distance travelled.

Most common video encoders
The most common video encoder is a stand-alone version with single or multichannel connections to analog cameras. Stand-alone video encoders are best positioned close to the analog cameras (due to transmission limitations over copper-based cabling). They are typically used in situations where there are a few analog cameras located in a remote facility or where the setup is some distance from the central monitoring room. For larger centralized systems, high-density rack solutions with blade versions of the encoders are usually preferred. The blades can support one, four or six channels. Racks can be outfitted with a mix of video encoder blades and can accommodate from one up to 84 analog channels, providing a flexible and expandable solution for migrating large-scale analog installations to network video. With hot swapping, there is no need to power down the entire system when installing or removing the video encoder blades.

Scalability and flexibility
Unlike analog CCTV/DVR systems, network video surveillance is built on open and interoperable standards; video encoders use universally accepted compression standards, such as Motion JPEG, MPEG-4 or H.264, enabling great savings in bandwidth and storage. Using standards also means that operators avoid the risk of being stuck with a proprietary technique. It also allows for integration with other systems, for instance IP-based building management systems or industrial and logistical solutions. The possibility to combine and integrate different systems gives great leverage to a surveillance investment based on network video.

Security through surveillance can be enhanced by the contractor and or a monitoring service:
1. Main security office: Dispatch viewing, command and control, video management software hub
2. Door security: electronic locks, request to exit
3. Indoor camera: vandal resistant, dome
4. Outdoor camera: pan-tilt-zoom, day/night viewing, vandal proof
5. Telephone alert: immediate voicemail mass notification
6. Access control: controllers, card readers
7. Mass notification: perimeter detection, alarms
8. Fixed camera: video analytics to record slips and falls
9. Strobe: visual emergency alert
10. Fixed camera: facial recognition for emergency situations
11. Covert camera: hidden in exit sign for discreet recording
12. Wireless connection: gives first responders (police, fire, EMT) remote viewing

Expand your current business with video surveillance as a service? A growing number of electrical contractors are now offering service to their package offerings.

Some video hosting systems (VHS) offer a unique solution where hosting providers, together with a wide range of network cameras, enable a service provider to offer its customer a video monitoring service over the Internet. This solution allows security integrators and alarm monitoring centers to establish a recurring revenue stream. By adding IP video surveillance to your offering you will establish closer relationships with existing customers and, at the same time, broaden your potential customer base—an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.

Beyond power, control and lighting
The electrical contractor is active in a host of low voltage infrastructure areas. The distributors have built a strong business base by supplying the electrical contractor with a host of products that can be woven into interconnected and automated building systems. The following are some examples:

• Copper solutions
• Fiber optic solutions
• Cable management solutions
• Tools and installation supplies
• Test equipment
• Outside plant products
• Low-voltage and specialty wire and cable
• Physical security solutions
• Networking solutions
• Residential solutions
• Power distribution and protection

Mass notification
This important area has seen numerous advancements in the past several years. The integration of wireless devices, such as smart phones, has significantly improved the reaction time to deliver those life-saving messages.

Timing is critical
When emergencies occur, it is important that information and instructions are disseminated quickly throughout the affected area. It can make the difference between life and death. Whether there is a natural or man-made disaster, the need for emergency communication is vital and will vary by market,

For example, ceiling speakers are for much more than background music. Being heard is critical in countless situations requiring mass notification, from natural disasters to violent scenarios. It’s essential to be heard when there isn’t a moment to lose.

Who needs security and mass notification?
The market is full of applications that are begging to be addressed or just improved. Both Public and Private Sectors are in need of better security:

• Police and fire safety systems must be robust and fail-safe when an entire municipality could be at risk. These systems often need to cover large geographical areas and offer rapid data transfer.
• The corporation market needs scalable solutions allowing employee notification in high-rise, warehouse and remote field environments. Employees must be kept safe while meeting corporate disaster recovery requirements.
• Higher education facilities must protect the students and faculty in the campus environment with alerts reaching all parties almost simultaneously.
• The government and military sector requires network-centric mass notification and system that meets Department of Defense and federal regulations. Internally, it must maintain privacy within the organization, and externally, it must alert millions across the nation of threats to people or property.
• Healthcare facilities require custom systems to allow for early warnings of contagious infectious diseases and other life-threatening situations

Don't just sit there. Get out there and make the world more secure.

BISBEE is with Communication Planning Corp., a telecom and datacom design/build firm. He provides a free monthly summary of industry news on www.wireville.com.

About the Author

Frank Bisbee

Freelance Writer
Frank Bisbee is with Communication Planning Corp., a telecom and datacom design/build firm. He provides a free monthly summary of industry news on www.wireville.com .

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