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Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
May 11, 2023


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IFSEC Interviews

Futureproofing your CCTV network: “Ask yourself five questions before identifying your solution”

As buying decisions become increasingly complex due to the pace of technological change, Peter Mason offers advice on futureproofing CCTV networks to security professionals.


Peter Mason, Lead IP Tutor for Tavcom Training

“Your operational requirement is key to pretty well everything else” when it comes to future-proofing your CCTV system, according to Peter Mason, Lead IP Tutor for Tavcom Training.

Mason offered this observation in conversation with IFSEC Insider in advance of his presentation on the topic at IFSEC 2023.

IFSEC Insider (II): Can you give us a taste of what you’ll be covering in your IFSEC presentation?

Peter Mason (PM): Somebody once said that forecasting is very difficult – especially if it’s about the future. So this talk is not attempting to be a one-size fits all [solution to futureproofing your CCTV system].

Instead, you will learn five points to consider when you’re thinking about futureproofing.

The first topic is bandwidth, which is absolutely critical to a CCTV network [and image quality].

The second thing to consider is: have you got enough IP addresses to allocate as the system grows?

You may have to consider whether you can stay with IP version 4 [IPv4] or have to switch to IP version 6 [IPv6].

We ran out of IPv4 addresses in 2014 and there is a thriving market in what you might call second hand IP addresses. Northern Telecom in Canada sold its IPv4 addresses for $7.5 million in 2011.

But an IPv6 system requires all of your equipment to be IPv6-aware – including the cameras, the NVR, the switches, the routers.

Some people think IPv6 is complicated, but that’s not the case. It’s a step-by-step system and you can programme your devices to automatically configure themselves.

The third consideration is probably as important as bandwidth: what does the OR or Operational Requirement require? What do you want your CCTV system to do? Do you want to record 24 hours a day at full frame rate? Or do you want to just record movement when [it is detected]?

The operational requirement is key to pretty much everything else.


The fourth consideration will be separating the data from your cameras from the data on your computer network to prevent smart people on the computer network having unauthorised access to the cameras or video recorder.

And the last thing will be standards. Do you want to comply with standards and therefore go with ONVIF or the PSIA [Physical Security Interoperability Alliance]?

Most people would recommend ONVIF, the Open Network Video Interface Forum, because everything is very simple and compatible and ONVIF has far more members.

II: Has the CCTV network fully moved over to IP now?

If you want to futureproof your network then you’re better off being IP-based so it can grow organically, but only about 20% of CCTV systems are actually IP-based.

One of the main reasons so many systems are still coax-based is people do not know how to add adequate bandwidth.

The obvious way to get more bandwidth is to scrap everything and replace it with optical fibre, which is expensive. Another way is to use virtual local area networks or VLANs to logically partition the data network away from the CCTV network, so each network has its own bandwidth.

And training [is important]. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. If you haven’t got the basic knowhow and you’re looking for [funding] to put optical fibre in, [it will be harder to get a] positive answer from the people on the top floor.

II: Who will benefit from attending the seminar?

PM: Anybody with hands-on experience with CCTV networks who needs to develop their expertise and possibly become a CTSP, or certified technical security professional, and join a register which [validates] their technical competence.

II: Is it getting harder to futureproof your CCTV system as the pace of technological change accelerates?

It is generally becoming more complex to make the right decisions because of the increasing choice of technology.

When Henry Ford said “you can have any colour car you want as long as it’s black”, that was like CCTV 10-15 years ago. You had a camera, you plugged it in, it worked – end of.

There were half a dozen camera manufacturers; today, it’s many times that number and they all say they comply with standards, give you a stonking picture, that hacking will be impossible and so on.

And the software is more and more complicated.

I sit there designing a 30-minute seminar and when I look at my last presentation, 30-40% of it is out of date already. Artificial intelligence is taking over from an awful lot of ‘get your hands dirty’ stuff.

II: What other areas of security systems training on offer by Tavcom are particularly important right now and why?

The cybercrime courses always stick out. People want up to date, expert guidance on how to deal with the threat of hacking. Tavcom has these courses available, so there’s no excuse for ignorance.

A few years ago the NHS system was hacked and the very simple reason was that they hadn’t updated from Windows 98. Fortunately, the experts got on top of it, but they shouldn’t have been in that position.

II: Anything else to add Peter?

I’m trying to retire – I reach the big 80 at my next birthday – and every time I say I don’t want to do IFSEC again, but I end up coming back for one more!

So I wouldn’t be surprised to be at IFSEC again next year talking about cybercrime, future-proofing, developments in IP and so on!

Want to find out more about ONVIF? Listen to IFSEC Insider’s podcast interview with Leo Levit, Chair of the ONVIF Steering Committee below! 

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