Video Surveillance is becoming a key component of security systems in long-term care facilities. In this security systems segment, surveillance cameras are placed in
- Parking lots, as defense against theft and vandalism of vehicles
- Public areas such as TV rooms, hallways, dining halls where residents and staff gather up
- entryways and at reception areas, to provide images of those coming and going out
- Stockrooms and supply closets, to monitor the thefts
At the same time, a new practice of installing video cameras in resident’s living quarters is also receiving positive reviews. This is because, security cameras installed in these places, will give a way to monitor their loved one’s condition 24/7 and keep an eye on the quality of their care. Two-way video systems with audio are also often used to facilitate interactions between residents and their families, more often than visiting schedules would permit.
And here’s where an upgrade is needed:
- As useful as they have proven to be, CCTV have some drawbacks as well. First and foremost is that they require hard wiring and installation by licensed professionals. That can prove hard on the budget and so can limit the cameras to be installed.
- The other drawback of a typical CCTV system installation is –images- must be stored on tape, which is proving expensive in terms of management and monitoring time, as well as space. Though, new analog systems are coming with DVR compatibility, where disc space is available for recording, old CCTV systems already installed in premises from the past few years do not support recording to DVR. So, an upgrade is surely needed in this instance.
- The third drawback of CCTV is that systems can be monitored in real-time only from locations that are wired to the cameras.
What’s the solution?
Here’s where IP Video Surveillance cameras offer a newer and better alternative to CCTV. Technically speaking, IP stands for Internet protocol and since surveillance is being carried out over IP, it means IP video surveillance. Wireless IP cameras greatly simplify installation, even when a system consists of many cameras. Wireless IP systems will work wherever there’s access to Wi-Fi or a network router. Video data can be stored on a hard disk or in the cloud and can be accessed from virtually any location on a PC, tablet or smart phone. But like said, every technology has its own pros and cons; wireless surveillance do have their own set of troubles.
Centralized vs. Decentralized systems
When considering an upgrade from a CCTV/Analog system to IP surveillance systems, the first thing to consider will be to determine whether a centralized or decentralized system of IP cameras will better meet your needs?
In a Centralized IP system arrangement, all you have to need are cameras, recording software, a dedicated PC/server, attached storage (can be a NAS/IP SAN), housings to protect the cameras and a network—wired/wireless.
The above set of hardware centralized IP surveillance can be carried out in the following way. Cameras perform function such as video recording, basic analytics and event triggering. Alarm management, storage management and video processing are handled by a central PC that runs on licensed software. Recorded video is processed and sent to the attached storage device.
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Although, centralized systems may seem to make sense for video security in an institutional setting, they have some real disadvantages, including:
- All video is processed through a video server and if it goes down, the whole objective can fall into jeopardy. However, in today’s world, techniques such as redundancy, failover can solve this issue.
- Licensing fees for software are usually charged on a per-camera basis, in addition to charges for the server management software license (usually along with an annual maintenance fee).
- Even though cameras for centralized systems cost less than decentralized systems, the additional costs for software licensing, a central server and maintenance bring the costs higher than those for decentralized systems.
In decentralized security systems- all you need to have are cameras, lenses, video storage, and a network. Here, in this arrangement the cameras will have the whole processing and analyzing intelligence installed in them, along with software recording capability. Some also have video storage capacity which can server for temporary purposes. Many have VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) functionality that enables the camera to send and receive calls from any kind of phone. Although IP cameras for decentralized systems are a far more expensive than those used in centralized systems, they offer all the functionality needed without as many peripherals and licensing fees, so they can prove more economical in the long run.
The advantages of decentralized IP surveillance systems include:
- Each camera operates independently, so there is no central point of failure. But when the camera fails, the surveillance system concept can take a bad hitting.
- Each camera can record to its own integral storage device at the camera — SD card or external hard disk — or to a central storage unit.
- If a camera loses connectivity or there is a storage device failure, it will continue to buffer data until the issue is corrected.
- Other cameras in the system can be alerted to a failure and programmed to notify you via email, text or phone call with a prerecorded message.
- No video management software licensing costs as the software is in the camera, and upgrades are usually free.
What to look for in IP surveillance systems:
Security surveillance cameras come in different sizes and shapes, and different models offer varied resolution and functionality. As you look at the field, try to determine which type best fits the needs of your facility and its residents.
- Some cameras offer pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) functionality, which can enable greater coverage in indoor and outdoor areas.
- Megapixel IP cameras (H.264 compression) offer much better image resolution than VGA cameras.
- Wireless IP cameras are much easier and economical to install than hardwired systems, but the installation site must be within Wi-Fi range of a router or hub. Signal availability and bounce may make you paranoid.
- For hard-wired installations, consider PoE (Power over Ethernet) IP cameras — to which power can be supplied via Ethernet cables — to reduce the number of power sources. This makes sense for fresh cable installations.
- Consider cameras with built-in microphones and speakers for two-way communication, where needed.
- Motion detection/event-triggering functionality can reduce the bandwidth and storage requirements for recorded video.
- Alarm functionality can alert security when a camera records unusual activity.
Video storage influence on IP Video Surveillance;
With a demand for high resolution images increasing, people who are shifting from analog to IP or normal CCTV to IP are showing more interested in going for the best. That is why the demand for cameras offering detailed video evidence is increasing. Moreover, as per the legal rules prevailing in most parts of America, video evidence with much more clarity is attaining more importance, than the one which lacks it. Hence, cameras which offer high clarity images are generating lots of data. Therefore, to store all that generated data for future use, an efficient video storage with capabilities such as RAID and fault tolerance is turning vital.
So, while planning for a migration from Analog to IP, please give equal importance to your video storage needs, like you do for the cameras and other components in the architecture.
Otherwise, it just doest make sense to have sophisticated cameras on premises minus an efficient video storage.