How to Approach IP CCTV System Design
This paper discusses the challenges in designing IP CCTV systems in a changing technological age.
IP CCTV design is a constantly developing arena. It demands the designer and installer look closely at the main concerns from customers of running an IP-surveillance system on their organisation’s network.
It also becomes a key priority of the CCTV sales manager to dispel any concerns associated with IP based CCTV systems and as a result consider bespoke networks that meet all of the operational requirements of the customer.
Reducing system downtime to an absolute minimum should be high on the list of an IT manager’s priorities.
Businesses need to ensure that the security of their network is maintained to the highest possible levels at all times and be confident that any additional services working across it do not impact on the overall performance of their network.
For example, the requirement to open particular firewall ports for the CCTV system to transmit images may give cause for concern over IT security.
When presenting proposals for CCTV images to be transmitted over an organisation’s network, security installers need to be mindful of these key priorities and address concerns as part of the design process.
Defining the operational requirement for a CCTV system normally starts from a security and loss prevention perspective.
The installer should determine what the security problems are for the organisation; how the CCTV system will address these problems, what areas are to be covered by CCTV, and how it will be used by the organisation.
Having determined these factors and that an IP-based CCTV system will provide the best solution, it is prudent to involve the IT department in system design discussions as early as possible. This will ensure that the system is installed in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
The fast changing IT landscape demands that the CCTV sales manager’s IP and network knowledge be more advanced than ever before as they must be capable of driving the conversation with the network manager.
Additionally, IT managers may also have to develop skills to avoid conflicts between how a security system is required to function and how a business IT system functions.
There is a requirement that a CCTV system should work 24/7 without failure. Depending on its purpose, it may be that a heavier demand is placed on the system out of office hours.
More often that not, that is precisely the time that the IT department plans to take down parts of the business network for essential maintenance or upgrade work. IT managers may also not be fully aware of the determination and inventiveness of criminals who may attempt to bring down or bypass the security system.
These physical security issues may extend into their own organisation where the inadvertent or even deliberate changing of network or firewall settings could result in security being removed or seriously compromised.
Despite these considerations, given the financial savings in eliminating additional cabling and equipment around buildings and the ability to make changes to system settings remotely, the many benefits of a fully integrated security system are a highly preferential option.
Add to that the user benefits in terms of control and management of storage and distribution of CCTV images and arguments for full integration are strong.
For an installer who has been designing analogue systems for several years, the topology of an IP based CCTV system is not a difficult concept to grasp.
The defining advantages such as the economies gained from reduced cable runs, the use of PoE (Power over Ethernet) to remove the need for specific power supplies, and the ease at which power, audio and telemetry control can be provided in a ‘fix, plug and use’ install process, are all available for a system on its own bespoke IP network.
It is at this point where discussions with the IT manager can commence in order to look at rationalising the initial design and to strip out unnecessary cost by utilising some or the entire existing network infrastructure.
IT manager expertise
The IT manager will provide expertise on the organisation’s network and the installing company will provide expertise in designing a system that meets the exact operational requirements of the customer.
This should result in the initial concerns on both sides being removed and a more consultative approach being taken to the system’s design and eventual completion.
With IT and the installer working together, a thorough and mutually beneficial solution can be built and any concerns over the need for system redundancy and critical failure contingency can be allayed.
It is by taking this approach that reliability and resilience is incorporated into system design with controls being put in place over who uses the system, removing the potential for nasty surprises cropping up post installation with system outages or security being compromised.
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