Helping channel partners get the most from IP based CCTV systems

March 2, 2011

CCTV channel interview with A&S International feature concering how Controlware can help CCTV installers and integrators get the most out of IP systems.

Q1. In what capacity do you work with traditional installers specializing in analogue technology? How do you complement each other?

Controlware: Due to our experience and skill set with IP video built up over the last 15 years we can offer the missing knowledge or support that the traditional analogue installer doesn’t have – This could be system design, commissioning, hardware sourcing (switches, servers etc.) or maintenance.

 

Q2. What are the usual problem areas (such as technology integration and installation techniques), and how do you solve them? How are compromises made?

Controlware: The usual problems are either around migration and leveraging legacy equipment and correspondingly any proprietary issues that might be faced such as telemetry or integrating hybrid systems.  The compromise is usually to either to have a managed migration plan that may involve additional hardware on a temporary basis or to accept reduced functionality for a period.

 

Q3. Has there been any case/project where it was simply easier to go all analog or all IP? Did you? Why or why not?

Controlware: We are currently rolling out a project for process control / improvement with a utilities company where, due to their IP VPN, it was easier to implement IP as all the WAN transmission infrastructure was already in place.  Therefore we could save costs and still improve remote site functionality and Health and Safety.

 

Q4. What can traditional installers do to better learn the IP/IT language?

Controlware: If installers wish to learn more about IP / IT then they should work with a trusted partner who has experience in IP and can help them develop their skills by working closely on projects and can then continue to help them in future opportunities through improved pre / post sales support.  This type of relationship is core to the Controlware partnership ethos.

 

Q5. What are you doing to better learn the analog/installation language?

Controlware: We understand the challenges that our installer partners face and we have a good knowledge basis on analogue implementation through undertaking industry recognized training but as we see IP as the future we don’t feel the need to invest heavily in this area.

 

Q6. What training programs are offered by manufacturers? What training programs are offered by IP/IT specialists like you?

Controlware: One of the challenges with manufacturer led training is that they are very product specific to that manufacturer whereas what the industry needs is wider IP / IT training on system design and networking such as switching technology, server specification or operating systems.  Within the Controlware group of companies we have a dedicated training organization called ExperTeach to provide exactly this missing link to our partners.

 

Q7. Is there any other support available, from manufacturers and from you?

Controlware: Most manufacturers can help with system design but again this tends to be limited to their own products and misses components like servers or switching or integration with legacy equipment.  Controlware are able to supply a complete consultancy, design and implementation service to what level the integrator requires.

 

Q8. How is effectiveness measured — number of new customers?

Controlware: This is difficult to measure – What I think you are seeing is different types of engineers coming through which allows traditional installers to bid on more and more IP based projects.  This in turn is opening up more business to them in different areas / verticals.

 

Q9. What is the working dynamics like between your company and the manufacturer partners when it comes to after-sales customer service/maintenance/troubleshooting of integrated, IP-based systems?

Controlware: We are able to provide 1st, 2nd and even 3rd line technical support as we understand IP completely and test / train all our pre / post sales engineers on all the products we supply and additional training on software and networking qualifications and undertake a lot of testing and systems approvals before signing over a project.  This is backed up by a full test and evaluation lab where we can fault find in the event of issues being highlighted by our integrators.

 

Q10. What issues can your company handle on itself, and what issues get referred back to the manufacturer partners?

Controlware: Due to the high level of training, test equipment and experience we can handle most problems ourselves and only refer back issues with things like firmware / software faults or clearly faulty hardware.  Most times we are able to give these manufacturer partners detailed feedback on the issues such as how and when the fault occurs and can be replicated, additional logging information or isolation testing to be able to eliminate other factors.

 

Q11. For customers who have come to adopt IP-based security products, what were the top three driving forces?

Controlware: I would say the drive is improved functionality and reliability, IP being seen as the technology of the future (increased deployment of structured cabling, remote communications etc.) and not having to rely on proprietary equipment.

 

Q12. How was the higher cost justified? How was ROI proved or improved?

Controlware: While the item to item cost maybe higher IP based systems have been shown to have a lower TCO than analogue and also RoI is shown through higher uptimes, greater resilience / redundancy and improved functionality and flexibility in deployment.

 

Q13. Among your customers, what verticals lean more toward using IP-based security equipment?

Controlware: Education is a key adopter of IP as they tend to be more forward looking but we are seeing more and more utility suppliers and infrastructure partners looking at IP as they upgrade networks and also Healthcare are looking more and more at IP.

 

Q14. Any specific vertical(s) that your company wishes to break into with networked security products? Why?

Controlware: Retail is always of interest due to the size of the estate and deploy base.  I also think that, with proper planning and implementation, that IP has a lot to offer in both legal compliance, health and safety and marketing as well as traditional security.

 

Q15. What are some issues that need to be addressed in order for networked security products to gain further traction and adoption?

Controlware: The knowledge base is a key point both in the installer base and system specifiers as is the entry price point of IP in certain areas.  Recording platforms / hardware also needs to be reviewed to make IP easier to adopt for both end users and the installers.

 

Q16. Any other anecdotal success stories? For the geographical markets/regions that you are active in (please identify which), what kind of growth in IP-based security systems are you expecting for 2011?

Controlware: We expect to see good growth in IP through 2011 but it is difficult to put an exact number on it due to the challenging global conditions in different regions.  What we are seeing, however, is not only a migration of traditional security to IP but also projects around process control and health and safety compliance – IP fits these types of installations due to their flexibility and reduced TCO costs as they are easier to install, integrate with existing infrastructure and provide far better redundancy options and these arguments can be carried back into the traditional installation base.

If you are interested in becoming a Controlware channel partner sign up here.

 


Holiday seasons greetings from Controlware

December 24, 2010


December

Controlware wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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Seasons greetings from Controlware UK

2010 has been a busy and successful year in which we have provided a number of new and extensions to existing CCTV systems.

All of the projects we have been involved with have benefited from our extensive experience as a technology leader for IP based CCTV systems allowing us to advise which products and configurations are best suited for each project. In this way we have worked closely with users and installers, clarifying technical specifications and helping to develop integrated solutions that meet Operational Requirements by not only delivering high quality video images but the latest recording and management features too.

The latest CCTV research by Frost & Sullivan, IMS, MBD and others is forecasting that IP is the future for CCTV and that IP technology will drive future growth. We have spoken many times about the benefits of IP CCTV prompting industry-wide debate most notably with “The true cost of IP CCTV” in which we challenged Mike Newton’s (Dedicated Micros CEO) claims that IP CCTV was expensive and unreliable. A series of follow up articles including “CCTV Video Image Quality is Everything” and “Is IP cost competitive?” led to more debate both online in theLinkedin forums, on the Controlware Blog and in print.

As we look to continued growth in the New Year I would like to thank you for your support in 2010 and wish you and your families every happiness this Christmas on behalf of the Controlware team.

Best Wishes & season’s greetings,

 

Controlware

 

Holiday office opening times

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From the afternoon of the 24th December to 4th January 2011

The sales and marketing office is closed

The support desk remains contactable on the out of hours number for 24/7 support as normal.


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CCTV software based on open standards provides advantages

December 8, 2010

Open Standards are the Future of IP Networking where everything seems possible

Integration is the key for CCTV

If your mobile phone can connect with Facebook and give you someone’s contact info or you can have a video conference with people on the other side of the planet for free, it does not seem as though managing and monitoring surveillance cameras just a block away should be much of a problem. However, the world of video networking is not as simple as it might seem. This booming industry contains many devices and technologies from an array of manufacturers and vendors, all vying for the best solutions to meet the problem of how to keep people and places secure.

With such an abundance of options, it would be a pity to limit a surveillance system to a single brand or technology. System designers and owners need to be able to easily connect their systems with other networks and to incorporate new and innovative solutions into the technology of their legacy systems. It is therefore imperative to create standards to ensure that the apparatuses in surveillance systems can communicate with each other as well as interface with other networks.

Blending sundry backgrounds

Standardizing video surveillance technology is no easy feat. The advent of IP networking ultimately merged the broadcast, telecom, and CCTV industries together, each of which had their own way of working with and producing new products and ideas. Even within a single industry, technology diverged greatly.

The broadcast industry started out, for example, with watertight standards (PAL and NTSC) that could literally be used anywhere in the world; they were always the same. Digital streaming changed all of that simply because video compression standards work quite differently. There are many standards and a wide spectrum of implementations is available for each standard; that is, MPEG-2 in one system is not necessarily compatible with the devices in another network. The standard allows for a broad range of profiles and applications that advantageously let users and developers customise their systems and solutions. However, the disadvantage of this is that networks cannot interface with one another.

Standardisation involves generating unified platforms. The systems deployed upon these open standards need to be capable of interfacing with the outside world while still allowing for internal customisation. This latter aspect can, at times, prove itself to be an exceedingly challenging part of video networking. As a result, although great strides have been made to simplify system integration, creating universal standards is and will remain a dynamic process; the varied and rich backgrounds from which the technology develops exclude straightforward answers and force standardisation to exist only as an ongoing struggle to conform to specific needs while building networks that can openly interface with each other.

Integrating different technologies in disparate systems

Optelecom-NKF (manufacturer of Siqura®) believes that video surveillance owners and designers benefit from the ability to select their own hardware, try out new technologies in existing systems, and draw from the diverse disciplines amalgamated in IP networking. Therefore, Optelecom-NKF has for many years now offered its customers an open streaming architecture (OSA) API based on acknowledged standards. This ultimately allows video streams to be viewed anywhere in the world over RTSP, even via handheld devices, such as PDAs, or through applications, such as QuickTime and VLC. Optelecom-NKF has also integrated its products into major video management systems (VMS), such as, XProtect (Milestone), Omnicast (Genetec), Security Center (Genetec), and many others.

In addition, Optelecom-NKF is a contributing member and strong supporter of the ONVIF and PSIA initiatives, the leading efforts in standardization. These movements have already made excellent achievements in helping companies work together to create open platforms for IP video networking.

Meeting the CCTV needs of the future

Optelecom-NKF recently developed an ONVIF-compliant, high-definition (HD) H.264 IP camera series. The traditional box-style BC6x cameras and the vandal-proof fixed dome FD6x cameras provide HD resolution images in H.264, MPEG-4, and MJPEG. With the option to configure multiple combinations of resolution and frame rate, it is possible to satisfy a variety of different live-viewing and recording scenarios, making these cameras ideal for large professional installations where high resolutions and quality images are needed.

The Siqura 6x cameras offer true day/night and backlight compensation as standard features, as well as wide dynamic range (WDR) functionality in some models, to ensure quality images in difficult lighting conditions. Since surveillance solutions need to be flexible when it comes to installation, these new cameras can be powered from AC, DC, or Power over Ethernet (PoE) power sources. Through an intuitive and straightforward Web interface, users can configure features such as motion detection and privacy masks to ensure the security of the surveillance system.

The development of these ONVIF-compliant HD cameras is just another step towards ensuring that Siqura surveillance solutions offer the best system for even the most demanding surveillance situations.

The future of video streaming for CCTV

Video surveillance systems have changed a lot since the arrival of IP technology. Technological advancements make it seem as though anything is possible. Devices in your car can tell you where to go; you can watch what’s happening anywhere in the world almost instantaneously through someone’s cell phone. It seems that networking video surveillance systems should be really simple.

Yet, the video networking industry stems from a disparate collection of companies and technologies, challenging manufacturers today to change the way they think about networks. While analogue CCTV installations were inherently closed (as the name closed circuit television or CCTV indicates), system owners and administrators today need to be able to connect their systems with outside networks, as well as have various devices within a single system that can easily interface with one another. Inventing new solutions, such as the upcoming Siqura ONVIF-compliant HD IP cameras, based on open standards for specific applications is an inevitable aspect of the future of this vibrant industry.

As a supplier of Optelecom-NKF products along with JVC, Sanyo, Genetec, Bosch, contact Controlware to find out how integrated products and systems can benefit you


Solutions for CCTV transmission over an IP network

October 15, 2010

How to get CCTV video across the network

There are essentially three ways of transmitting video streams over the network from the source to the destination: broadcast, unicast and multicast.

Broadcast
Broadcast is defined as a one-to-all communication between the source and the destinations. In IP video surveillance, the source refers usually to the IP camera and the destination refers to the monitoring station or the recording server. In this case, broadcasting would mean that the IP camera would send the video stream to all monitoring stations and recording servers, but also to any IP devices on the network, even though only a few specific destination sources had actually requested the stream. Typically, this method of transmission is not commonly used in IP video surveillance applications, but can be seen more often in the TV broadcasting industry where TV signals are switched at the destination level.

Unicast
Unicast is defined as a one-to-one communication between the source and the destination. Unicast transmissions are usually done in TCP or UDP and require a direct connection between the source and the destination. In this scenario, the IP camera (source) needs to have the capabilities to accept many concurrent connections when many destinations want to view or record that same video at the same time.
In terms of video streaming in unicast transmission, the IP camera will stream as many copies of the video feed requested by the destinations. In figure 1 below, three copies of the same video stream are sent over the network; one copy for each of the three destinations requesting the stream. If each video stream is 4 Mbps, this transmission will produce 12 Mbps (3x4Mbps) of data on multiple network segments.

As a result, many destinations connected in unicast to a video source can result in high network traffic. In other words, if we imagine a large system with 200 destinations requesting the same video stream, we would end up having 800 Mbps (200x4Mbps) of data travelling over the network, which is realistically unmanageable. Although this method of transmission is widely used over the Internet where most routers are not multicast-enabled, within a corporate LAN, unicast transmission is not necessarily the best practice as it can quickly increase the bandwidth needed for viewing and recording camera streams.

Multicast
In multicast transmission, there is no direct connection between the source and the destinations. The connection to the video stream of the IP camera is done by joining a multicast group, which in simple terms means actually connecting to the multicast IP address of the video stream. So the IP camera only sends a single copy of the video stream to its designated IP address and the destination simply connects to the stream available over the network with no additional overhead on the source. In other words, the destinations share the same video stream. In figure 2 below, the same three destinations requesting the video stream have the same impact on the network as a single destination requesting the stream in unicast and there is no more than 4 Mbps of data travelling on each segment of the network. Even with 200 destinations requesting that video stream, the same amount of data would be travelling on the network.

It is evident at this point that using multicast transmissions in an IP video surveillance application can save a lot of bandwidth, especially in large scale deployments where the number of destinations can grow very quickly. To find out more contact Controlware.


Using an IP network for CCTV transmission

October 13, 2010

Investigating the importance of bandwidth optimisation for IP CCTV

When it comes to IP video surveillance, it is important to efficiently manage the way video streams are transmitted over the network in order not to overload the available bandwidth. Even though IT infrastructures are built to handle any kind of data, the applications generating traffic over the IP network need to be conducive with the efficient utilization of the network resources in place. To this end, different functionalities and mechanisms are offered by IP video surveillance solution providers to allow optimization of bandwidth and network resources such as:

• Multicasting

• Multistreaming

• Video compression

Even though the capacity and speed of the network are constantly increasing and its associated costs are declining, this is still not a good reason for users to ignore the additional investments and efforts needed to optimise bandwidth management. The amount of data travelling on the network is also still on the rise and therefore, investments in bandwidth optimization are ones that can contribute to a reduction in total cost of ownership, specifically in respect to efficiency gains and maximized resources.

For example, in video surveillance, more and more end-users are requesting cameras with higher picture quality and resolution, often opting for high-definition and megapixel cameras. These types of cameras require much more bandwidth than standard definition cameras. Also, more and more people inside as well as outside an organization’s walls are requesting access to video streams over the network. In the case where a large number of users are simultaneously trying to access a specific video stream, efficient use of network resources can be crucial in avoiding overloaded capacity and entire network crashes.

It is equally important to realize that optimizing the bandwidth on the network does not necessarily go hand in hand with large capital investments, but is more a matter of putting the right solutions in place and leveraging the unique and powerful capabilities of these solutions. There are simple ways to optimize bandwidth management in IP video surveillance, contact Controlware UK to learn more on 0844 225 9 225 .


IFSEC prompts IP CCTV costs argument

May 20, 2010

Meeting with many CCTV users at IFSEC last week the main topic of conversation again revolved around the cost of adopting IP CCTV.

It is a topic I have touched on before when a CCTV manufacturer insisted that IP CCTV would cost £1.8M for a 750 camera system compared to £600k for his analogue based one. Given that IP vs. analogue costs are still topical it seems fitting to look at these arguments again.

From the customer’s perspective, there are three main deployment scenarios for moving to IP: (1) integrating existing analogue cameras within an IP backbone via video encoders, (2) migrating existing analogue installations to IP over the life cycle of the system and finally, (3) installing a completely pure IP solution that meets the project needs, budget and allows for future proofing.   All scenarios present challenges in both planning and deployment, but these can be identified early enough to ensure that there are no surprises.

Through good system design each scenario can be deployed in a number of ways – central storage, distributed storage, failover, redundancy, and remote high quality recording / low quality live view are all possible.  These solutions can easily be implemented across existing infrastructure (without impacting IT services), or new IP CCTV deployments with the use of networking functionality such as VLAN’s (the ability to create separate “virtual” LANs on the same switch) or by utilising low cost switches to create a separate LAN for the surveillance system.

In order to dispute the assertion that a 750 IP based camera system would cost £1.8m compared to alternatives, I have to make a few assumptions concerning the system, so we’ve put forward a high-end solution proposal as follows:

  • 750 camera feeds
  • 31 days retention of footage with 10% overhead for incident recordings.
  • All video recorded at 24/7/365 at 4CIF / D1 at 25fps

Recordings are of average motion with 50% in view at any one time. By using H.264 encoding significant savings of between 50% and 80% over M-JPEG can be made by sending changes in video frames rather than full frames.

All cameras are in situ and connected via coax to local collection points and then high speed CAT5e or Cat6 cabling is installed back to a central command and control point.  As the system is mission critical 100% redundancy and failover are required.

Using a storage design tool demonstrates that only 116.2 TB of storage is needed – even when adding 10% overhead (approx 16TB), for incident recordings the storage is only approx 135 TB.  With 8 x 2TB iSCSI drive units you would only need 4-5 RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Discs) arrays running RAID 5 for recording. Then when we look at the required servers to process and record the cameras, using a COTS (computers off the shelf) manufacturer such as Dell or HP 64 camera feeds will only require 12 servers plus an additional one to handle system redundancy.

The use of iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) means that storage arrays are connected directly to the network backbone eliminating single point of failure issues that are common in the traditional DVR setup.  Should a drive lose connectivity, power or suffer systems failure then the network control software automatically starts to record its streams to another array seamlessly.  By coupling this with RAID even in the event of a drive failure the data is duplicated across multiple discs so that no footage is lost.

For the above configuration you simply need 2 x 48 port switches and the cabling to connect all your remote collection sites.  With the cost per port of switches falling even with high grade cabling all this could be installed for less than £25,000.  Even if you had to deploy this over a wide area other IP technologies such as wireless still make this a cost effective solution.

The most expensive part of an IP CCTV solution will always be the camera licensing, but as this is normally only around £150.00 per camera (Which is often for life – If you hardware fails you just reinstall.) I don’t see this as a major issue.

The final component is simply to add encoders to convert analogue camera signals to IP.  With the new ranges of IP encoders it is possible to convert these streams and transmit them using H.264 at a 12Mbps per group of 16 cameras.  Again the cost per channel for this is cost-effective at sub £200.00.

Even before we start to discuss the other benefits of IP solutions such as POE (reduced cabling costs and installation time), Intelligent deployments (Dynamic storage profiles, redundancy and integration with other hardware systems), or Intelligent Video (Analytics, integration with other software systems or improved user functionality), we can see that IP is the future for CCTV.  When we bring all this together – the recording servers, the software, the encoders, the transmission, display equipment and installation and commissioning I can confidently say that a high res, high frame rate IP solution for 750 cameras could be delivered at an End User price of less than £500,000.00 (+ VAT of course just to be 110% clear!).  The cost would be even lower at 5fps as the storage would be quartered and costs would be reduced on transmission and encoder technology with more cameras supported per server.

For more details and to receive a complete cost breakdown for this IP CCTV system, please send an email to ipcctv@controlware.co.uk. Also check out our range of IP cameras, video encoders and CCTV management software from manufacturers such as Bosch, Pelco, Samsung, Sanyo etc.


Improve CCTV images with IP CCTV systems

April 22, 2010

The benefits of upgrading CCTV systems from analogue to IP based technology have been well documented in the past but with technology moving ever forward there is no time like the present to look again at what IP CCTV can deliver. If you are planning a new or upgrading an existing CCTV system there is no reason why you should not base your CCTV project on IP technology.

The fundamental reason to move to IP is image quality. The recent developments of HD (Hi Definition) Megapixel cameras far outstrip what is possible with analogue CCTV cameras. In fact a 1 Megapixel camera is 10 times more powerful than an analogue camera running CIF (Common Interchange Format) and 2 Megapixel is 20 times more powerful. What this means for the user is more detailed CCTV images and after all this is the purpose of CCTV – to provide clear video images that can be used for evidential purposes.

CCTV systems that cannot deliver evidential quality video images are clearly next to useless and should be upgraded. Upgrading CCTV to reap the benefits of IP and improve the system is not as expensive as it sounds. Encoders can be connected to existing analogue cameras allowing CCTV to run over IP. Once connected CCTV can be monitored from anywhere even on mobile phones and CCTV recordings can be made more resilient. This hybrid network of analogue cameras and IP technology will not give you a full Megapixel IP CCTV system directly but it is a big step forward from analogue CCTV and a stepping stone to a full IP CCTV HD system. Many users take this step to ensure that they do not have to write off the cost of their existing analogue cameras while providing the opportunity to introduce HD cameras to their network. In this way the network can naturally evolve to HD Megapixel cameras as analogue cameras fail and are easily replaced. This ensures the best of both worlds – cost-effective use of analogue cameras while providing a fast upgrade to HD IP based CCTV.

The key to getting the most out of your CCTV system is to partner with a company who understands both IP technology and CCTV since knowledge of both is necessary to deliver a working system. IP networks are complex and are not the same as analogue networks so an IP CCTV specialist is required. At the outset it is important that all partners are aware of the users Operational Requirements so that IP CCTV systems are able to be planned, designed, commissioned and delivered in line with what the user requires. By engaging with a specialist IP CCTV partner at the planning stage this is easier to achieve helping to ensure that the CCTV system is fit for purpose and project goals are met.

If you are looking at upgrading an existing CCTV system or a designing a new system contact us today, Controlware can help with design, product advice, integration and support. As a Value added distributor we can either work alongside consultants or your installation partners or reccomend partners from our network.