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.

IP delivers increased flexibility when specifying CCTV project options

March 18, 2010

Many CCTV projects begin with looking into the features required and the amount of integration needed with other systems. These discussions run along the lines of producing a Must Have / Nice to have / Wish list of features. We recently worked with a Systems Integrator (SI) to develop a CCTV system for a company from the petro-chemical industry. It provided an interesting insight into how many Wish list items we were able to include in the system simply by specifying IP.

The end customers key Must Have was a reliable and robust system; but they also wanted enhanced functionality for communications and public address broadcasting, as well as remote lighting management and proactive alert systems. And cost, like most projects, was a key concern.

To cut project costs existing analogue cameras were utilised by being connected to an IP encoder for transmission over a local 5GHz wireless LAN from Infinet. This helped avoid cable runs from difficult areas and enhanced project savings by cutting the costs of digging trenches to new camera locations. Another requirement was met by the use of Mesh network topology to provide resilience in the transmission of the CCTV.

It was at this point that we could start ticking off the main Wishlist items as the encoder could support local I/O devices such as Redwall’s and also be connected to local tannoy systems from TOA in the event that communications needed to be broadcast, such as safety announcements or to get a remote site worker to come to a site office or rendezvous with other colleagues.

We could also support other I/O devices through the use of Adams boards to convert I/O to IP and then link this data to either display the cameras signalling alarms or make a PTZ go to a preset position to give a visual overview of events; allow for process control and ensuring contracted works had been carried out; or even provide lone worker protection.

If you would like to find out more about working in partnership with Controlware, please drop me an email at ipcctv@controlware.co.uk .

CCTV prevents drunk driver causing mayhem – video released

December 10, 2009

CCTV video has been released of the moment that a seriously inebriated individual returned to his car after a night out and drove off.

Having drunken too much the unnamed man can be seen stumbling up to his car, kissing both sides and urinating on it before managing to open the door and driving off narrowly missing a parked vehicle.

Luckily CCTV operators were able to alert police who were able to pull him over before he could inflict any harm to himself, property or others. This is another example of CCTV in Action where we have shown that CCTV has proved its worth time and time again.

The incident that happened in March 2007 in Ely, Cambridgeshire is to be used by Cambridgeshire police as part of their “Dont drink and drive” Christmas campaign. The 36-year-old man who was eventually stopped and arrested for drink-driving was later banned from driving for 20months, given a referral order, fined £190 and ordered to pay £100 costs.

This is another example of how well monitored CCTV management systems can helpfight crime by targeting police resources to incidents as they happen. The recordings from CCTV systems like this are recorded digitally in high quality video resolutions so can be used to identify suspects and be used for evidence in court.

Where is the Christmas spirit? As Scrooge is caught on CCTV stealing Xmas tree and presents

December 8, 2009

Ok, it’s early December, perhaps too early for any Christmas spirit and good cheer you might think? Well you’d be right, certainly this thief was in no mood for any festive goodwill when he helped himself to a tree and presents at a garden centre over the weekend.

This is the moment that unemployed Michael Brown was caught on CCTV taking the Christmas tree and toys from a  Santa’s grotto in Denbigh, North Wales. He can be seen below on CCTV firstly hiding and then taking the items away.

The thief steels the Xmas tree and presents

The images demonstrate what a good CCTV system can do in order to fight crime. Other images from the CCTV clearly show the face of the thief enabling conclusive identification to be made. However, many CCTV systems do not provide high quality video with which to make identification possible which is why the CCTV industry needs standards. CCTV systems must also be well designed and planned so that they can provide the most damning evidence.

Later Brown is picked up on another camera making his getaway as he drags the tree and presents behind him like some anti-Santa. Unfortunately for Brown the tree he was dragging away with him left a trail of tinsel that led directly to his arrest later by police.  Brown, from Greenfield, Flintshire, North Wales, was ordered to pay a £65 fine, £100 costs and compensation of £91 at Prestatyn Magistrates’ Court.

The thief drags the tree and presents away

CCTV video of warehouse accident demonstrates importance of Health and Safety

November 6, 2009

Much has been discussed about the wider merits of CCTV and how it can reduce crime and make people feel safer but a topic that is often over looked is how CCTV can help with health and safety.

It is sometimes a shock to find staff carrying out tasks that completely go against the training, regulations and processes that have been put in place. CCTV if well monitored can therefore be highly important in preventing the occurrence of accidents. Also if employees having received training and been made aware of regulations are involved in an accident, CCTV is a tool that can be used to help clear your company of blame and potential legal action that might follow.

The video below filmed at a warehouse in Russia shows a major health and safety incident occurring. Fortunately no one was badly injured, but five million roubles (£105,000) worth of alcohol was destroyed in the accident, according to the website that posted the video, scandalim.ru.

If resource for live monitoring is not available technologies such as Video Analysis (Video Analytics / Smart CCTV) can help. When using an open management platform such as Cware, Video Analysis from IP cameras, analogue (analog) cameras or codecs can be easily integrated into the CCTV system. Video Analysis continuously checks for activity, events or behaviours that might be considered suspicious against user-defined policies. When activity is detected the system will classify the objects of interest (people, vehicle etc.), track and identify the direction of moving objects, interpret what the objects are doing and determine if a customer-defined policy has been broken. Once a policy is broken, for instance an intruder climbing over a perimeter fence or a vehicle parking in a forbidden zone, a wide variety of automatic countermeasures can be taken. PTZ cameras can automatically zoom in and track the object to get images of evidential quality, audible alarms can be broadcast to frighten away trespassers and emails or text messages can be sent to notify security personnel.

For more information about IP CCTV, the Cware management platform and Video Analysis click here.

Plus what do you think about CCTV? Is Britain becoming a Surveillance Society? Discuss here.