Guest Column | January 7, 2014

How Wireless IP Video Cameras Can Overcome Hurdles To Perimeter Protection

By Dave Tynan, Vice President, Global Marketing and Sales, MicroPower Technologies

IT resellers looking to capitalize on new opportunities to install IP video for perimeter protection often face challenges related to camera placement and the need for systems to conform with a customer's existing security processes. For networking experts, installing cameras on the IP backbone is easy compared to the challenge of locating cameras for optimum video coverage and security benefit. As the unique needs of a particular customer may require installing cameras beyond the reach of the existing power and network infrastructure, IT resellers need to look beyond traditional surveillance devices to help customers gain the level of surveillance coverage required for external security applications.

Historically, outdoor video surveillance cameras have been installed on buildings to gain views of a specific area, such as a parking lot or an open perimeter. However, a camera's ability to capture the surrounding area only extends so far, even when factoring in the capabilities of products with expanded zoom, and megapixel or HD resolution. In particular, effectiveness is limited by the amount of light that reaches the sensor, which decreases based on how far an object is from the device.

What if an asset to be protected is located on the other side of a lake? What if it's across a public street? Running power and data transmission cabling is a possibility but could require a massive trenching project, which might not be practical. Trenching costs add up quickly — especially in locations where asphalt has been laid — with excavation costs totaling, on average, between $75 and $150 per foot. In addition, special permits and other bureaucratic requirements further inflate prices, leading to exorbitant final costs that can range between $22,000 and $45,000 for every 100 yards. Trenched systems also require inspections and maintenance, and can take weeks, if not months, to complete.

What about aesthetics, environmental concerns, vandalism, and climate issues, such as rough winds? PoE does a great job of powering IP devices, but only reaches as far as the network infrastructure. Other power sources and electrical connectivity may also be limited or non-existent in a perimeter security or outdoor environment.

A solution is to use wireless surveillance devices combined with alternative energy sources, such as solar panels, to deliver necessary power. A small-footprint solar panel and long-life batteries can provide the power required to ensure dependable operation during the day but also at night and on cloudy days. The use of antenna and secure transmission protocols allow placement in noisy RF environments to ensure critical video coverage is captured and transmitted.

As with any surveillance system, the security of the video is a primary concern for customers. To remain secure, wireless systems maintain a connection reliably across the transmitter and receiver, and continue operating efficiently even with other RF devices nearby. Newer wireless systems allow for “health monitoring,” in which a system detects when a camera or video connection is lost and takes action to recover the connection. The wireless receiver can intelligently detect a lost camera connection or a packet loss of a frame, and take immediate action to counteract and recover. This lets users rest easy in knowing that video is being captured at all times

This modern wireless architecture is designed specifically for use in surveillance environments. Its proprietary authentication protocol creates a secure environment, and makes it difficult for would-be hackers to infiltrate a video stream. If a connection is lost, the system knows to store the surveillance data locally until the network connection is restored. When the camera retransmits, it only sends a portion of the entire frame that was lost, improving the chances of a full image transfer.

All of these advances in technologies allow resellers to expand a customer's video footprint to cover larger geographic areas, while enabling ease of integration with existing network platforms and surveillance systems. Video cameras can now view perimeters that extend thousands of feet beyond the reach of the cabling infrastructure and cameras closer to target ensure stronger forensic video. As these devices are easily installed, systems can be redeployed as security needs change or moved temporarily to reduce criminal activity at hot spots.

The ability to extend surveillance to challenging geographic areas or far-reaching perimeters also extends the value of a surveillance program, allowing IT resellers to extend the value of their services to the customer. Video can address concerns about loitering, unauthorized carpooling or the sale of illegal substances. It can monitor operational issues such as snow plowing, maintenance response or trash removal. Cameras can also help prevent vehicle break-ins and false liability claims. Enabling better placement of cameras for maximum coverage, wireless surveillance technologies represent a valuable new opportunity for IT resellers — and their customers.