With the rush for developers to move integrated services to the “Cloud,” Video Surveillance found itself at home, seeing the benefits of becoming based as Software as a Service, (SaaS). As IP based cameras find the tipping point, as it is called, where they are fast becoming more affordable, compared to analog cameras, new opportunities introduce themselves. This IP revolution has spurred the integration of video surveillance into the IT world and with all its bells and whistles, has moved seamlessly to the Cloud. This technology is being realized both in the residential market as well as the commercial market. Residential video is commonly being offered as an addition to intrusion systems, utilizing the digital communication technologies of both IP and cellular alarm communicators.
Why the Cloud? What are the benefits?
For starters, cloud-based systems include lower and more consistent costs. Using a cloud-based system decreases the need for the huge initial investment. Instead of a one-time pay-out and ongoing maintenance charges, a company is invoiced on a monthly basis. There is no upfront investment in complicated servers, NVRs or software licenses. This creates a much lower cost of entry. Setup is much easier and the system becomes much like a plug-and-play peripheral. IT responsibilities for the system shift to the Cloud’s particular vendor, which reduces the need for on-hand technical staff and potentially eliminates the need for backup systems, issues that are especially helpful to smaller companies. Web-based access also provides easy management for key personnel, working offsite anywhere in the world. In the world of video surveillance, a Cloud-based system would provide video management software (VMS) and allow access to video views from any of the home or company’s IP cameras, all connected securely to the system via Internet.
How About Video Storage?
Video storage is another Cloud-based service crucial to the surveillance industry. Archived video from a company’s cameras is stored in the Cloud; in actuality on a server in another location with remote access via Internet. The customer does not need to purchase and maintain their own physical data storage devices. The Cloud video system providers have massive data centers around the world that provide the necessary capacity and 24/7 access. This approach is a fast, accelerating trend in the video surveillance arena because of the simple advantage of lower costs. Cloud-based video storage is a fraction of what Network Video Recorders, (NVRs) cost when measured per gigabyte. The security of video images stored off-site is never a cause for concern as security is a top priority for Cloud-based system providers.
With storage residing in the Cloud rather than on a local server with analytics firmware, the capabilities of “edge-based” devices like cameras become very important. Video Analytics processing that takes place inside the camera reduces the need to send vast quantities of raw data over the network, sparing bandwidth. Smarter cameras at the edge can also provide video analytics such as virtual tripwires, vertical movement, object left behind, etc. Variable image resolution technology would enable an unnecessary part of an image (such as the sky) to be coded at a lower resolution to save data file size. In effect, this new camera technology will do more out at the “edge” of the network. These features will make network cameras efficient and an even more valuable system component to systems that utilize Cloud-based services.
Analog cameras have served the industry well, and still find applications in the market today. But The Internet has been changing this. Cloud based video surveillance gives us the method to stay efficiently connected, efficiently staffed, and in the know, all while not breaking the bank. Cloud-based services will open up new possibilities for customers utilizing IP video systems. Many of these customers will be smaller businesses that are not able to invest in a large on-site network infrastructure, but will benefit immensely from the technology.
By: Jim Welch, Technology Specialist