June 26, 2023


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How to futureproof your CCTV network: five points to remember

As security technology advances at speed, ensuring a CCTV network is fit for purpose is a high priority. At this year’s IFSEC, attendees heard Peter Mason, Lead IP Tutor at Tavcom Training, outline five considerations for those looking to expand their technical expertise and futureproof their CCTV network.  

Although only 20% of CCTV systems are IP-based, the pros of opting for networked CCTV are compelling. These include the ability to use existing infrastructure, ease of management and operation, cost savings vs using a separate network, and ease of expansion.

VideoSurveillance-CCTV-TypesofCameraWith this in mind, Mason outlined five key points to remember when future-proofing a CCTV network.

You can also read our full interview with Peter Mason, where he expands on more of the tips below, here: Futureproofing CCTV: “Ask yourself five questions before identifying your solution”

1) Bandwidth is critical

In technical terms, bandwidth can be defined as “the capacity of a channel” – and this factor is crucial. A typical IP camera needs 3-5 MHz of bandwidth. The average fast ethernet LAN has 65 MHz available – enough to support 65 cameras – but not without affecting data network performance. Increasing compression and reducing resolution can provide solutions to this challenge, but ultimately a system will need more bandwidth.

The solution? Optic fibre. Everything from access control to fire systems can be put together over a fibre system, as Mason explained: “There are many further benefits of optic fibre, including maintaining picture over far greater distances, using cheaper raw materials and freedom from electric noise,” he said.

The cabling of a major new airport was presented as an example during the seminar. In this case, the network needed to perform a vast range of functions, including carrying data to and from check-in desks, baggage handling, phones, fire alarms and public Wi-Fi – to name just a few.

“Well, a category 5 cable just couldn’t cut it,” Mason outlined. “This solution cost $2.4 million and provided 12% of spare capacity. Optical fibre solutions cost a little more at $2.6 million – but delivered over 300% of spare capacity,” he explained.

2) IP addresses

Remarkably, IP version 4 – which is still used to route most internet traffic today – was introduced in 1998. It’s long since run out of addresses – with around 4 billion on its books.

So, how is it still functioning?

“The class-based systems it runs from waste millions of addresses. Many ingenious solutions have tried to extend its life, but the future is IP version 6,” said Mason.

If you’re wondering what happened to IP version 5, this iteration was experimental. However, IP version 6 outperforms its live predecessor in several ways, including offering enhanced security, geographical identifiers, autoconfiguration and an inexhaustible list of IP addresses – which is roughly a million addresses per human being.

3) The CCTV Operational Requirement (OR)

The third consideration when looking to upgrade and futureproof your CCTV network is probably as important as bandwidth. “What does the OR (Operational Requirement) need? Fundamentally, what do you want your CCTV system to do?” Mason asked the audience.

Having a diagram and understanding whether the system can be broken down into smaller segments is important. Asking whether the system is contained within a single site and considering if any of it connects over the internet should also be considered.

4) Understanding your organisational network

The fourth point presented in the session looked at separating the data from cameras from the data on the computer network to prevent unauthorised access to the cameras or video recorder.

A simple IP system will have a few laptops and desktops – but CCTV components steal bandwidth. Different parts of an organisation can sit on different VLAN networks – with business areas such as sales, marketing, engineering, accounts and CCTV running off individual VLANs – but they all run off one VLAN switch.

5) Complying with standards

Lastly, attendees heard about the differences between the two main organisations responsible for maintaining industry standards: Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA).

ONVIF – founded by Axis, Bosch and Sony – has 500 members worldwide and 8,500 conformant products. Its mission is to provide and promote standardised interfaces for effective interoperability of IP-based physical security products.

On the other hand, PSIA is smaller than ONVIF but looks at the physical security market in its entirety – including IP-based devices like cameras, video management, video analytics and video recording.

Understanding and working with interoperable and open standards is key when looking to futureproof your CCTV network, especially if you are looking to integrate cameras with other security or building functions.

Remembering the basics…

In his closing remarks, Mason reiterated the importance of his biggest single point, outlined throughout a thought-provoking seminar: “The more bandwidth you’ve got, then the more future-proof your CCTV system will be.”

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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