The corporate network has become a crowded place as more devices and assets have been connected to the Internet. In addition to desktop computers and mobile devices, organizations are collecting data from everything from light fixtures and printers to field equipment and vehicles. As adoption of IP video surveillance continues to increase, video cameras have joined the network party, bringing a new set of benefits and challenges.

IP video surveillance uses IP cameras to record video footage, which is transmitted as data over an IP network. Video feeds can be remotely monitored in real time, or retrieved and reviewed at a later date for the purpose of investigation and analysis. Video management software is used to control how video footage is encoded, how traffic will be directed to servers for processing, where data will be stored, how video can be accessed for viewing and how long it should be retained in archival if necessary.

IP video surveillance offers a number of advantages over closed-circuit television (CCTV) analog systems. A CCTV system is purposely designed to limit access to video footage, using coaxial cable to transmit a video signal to a recorder or monitor. That’s why it’s called “closed-circuit.” Because an IP system is connected to the network, any user with proper authorization and credentials can monitor or review video footage from virtually any location.

IP video surveillance typically offers higher quality footage than analog systems. Unlike video stored on tape, digital video quality doesn’t diminish with age, and an IP-based system is easier to control and manage via software. Data can be stored in any geographic location, whether on-premises or in the cloud, and compressed to minimize capacity requirements. Video footage can also be recorded and played simultaneously and is fully searchable.

One of the biggest benefits of IP video surveillance is the ability to analyze video feeds to spot trends and patterns. From a security standpoint, for example, retailers can use video to identify suspicious behavior and show associates what to look for to prevent shoplifting and fraud. Video can also be used to improve business operation and customer service. Using the retail example, video analytics can play an important role in optimizing staff levels to avoid long lines, evaluating employee performance, and laying out the sales floor.

IP video surveillance systems can and should be integrated with not only physical security systems, but communications systems. Video surveillance is one component of a property’s larger physical security infrastructure. Door access controls, motion sensors, lighting systems, fire alarms, heating and cooling systems, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should all be IP-enabled so they can communicate with an IP video surveillance system. When IP video surveillance is integrated with email, phone and other communications systems, alerts can be sent automatically, both internally and to law enforcement, when an incident occurs.

In the next post, we’ll discuss the infrastructure requirements for IP video surveillance, as well as the factors to consider when evaluating IP video surveillance solutions.