Smart Surveillance is as smart as the Router allows
Most surveillance and IP cameras VARs agree that IP networks make surveillance solutions much more attractive and easier to sell. If you continue reading you'll discover why and how important the underlying transport network and routers become.
Users place high value on being able to watch the cameras from anywhere. Business owners can check their business operations or keep an eye on inventory from home or when travelling. Cameras are accessible even to handheld devices; there are a number of apps that make it really simple to watch live video streams from mobile 3G or 4G devices. In larger multi-site deployments, centralized remote video monitoring is becoming a much more efficient and cost-effective approach.
Moreover, IP cameras and IP-enabled surveillance systems have gotten so smart that they can send notifications on specific events in many different ways. i.e. emails, sms, ftp uploads, and even phone calls. Video clips and snapshots can also be conveniently moved offsite to headquarters or cloud-based storage.
All the above benefits of new surveillance technologies have something in common: All depend 100% on IP networks and Wide Area Network access, in which the router used plays a very important role.
Other elements such as Power and Network Switches are critical as well but that is a matter of a different blog entry, in any case a good quality POE switch and power backup such us SMC and Minuteman respectively allow to offer a solid infrastructure by just physically connecting the cables.
Resources usage in Converged Networks needs policing
"The Router" needs to be smart to handle converged networks that include data and voice traffic. A few Megapixel cameras can quickly saturate any available bandwidth rendering all other network services at that site down. Even when the camera can be configured for reduced frame-rate or resolution for remote viewing, too many camera viewers from the WAN can always cause problems.
"The Router" needs to be able to prioritize traffic and enforce QoS rules, and bandwidth limits called traffic shaping. Even better, dynamic rules that adjust based on schedule can allow for heavier video uploads during non-business hours. On the other hand we don't need other applications taking over the available bandwidth completely.
Other common requirement in converged networks is the ability to virtually separate internal networks with the use of VLANs. Internal users' and other applications traffic can be separated for increased performance and network security. A random internal user cannot access the subset where all the cameras and surveillance equipment is. Only advanced equipment provides multiple VLAN and IP subnets, and routing and firewall functions to control who can access what.
An Internet link fails but connectivity continues
"The Router" needs to support redundant Internet links specially when critical alarms need to be delivered. A secondary wireless ISP would prevent an intruder from cutting the wires to easily disconnect the cameras from the Internet and disable all sophistication built in the surveillance system for remote alerting or video viewing. The router would detect when one link is down and re-route IP traffic to the working WAN transparently for the cameras and other internal network devices.
Remote connections made easy and secure
"The Router" needs to allow easy remote connections to the LAN so the cameras can be reached from the Internet in a secure way. For a small number of cameras and when network security is not a real concern, opening ports in the router/firewall and port forwarding is easy to implement but the easiest and more secure route is offering a VPN connection. Starting a secure VPN to the LAN puts us virtually in the LAN with access to all local IPs without having to open ports. The router acts as a VPN server and should work with common VPN clients like the ones built in all Windows PCs, Apple MACs and even iPhones. Additional complexity to access a network remotely is added when the public IP addresses associated to the site are not static; to overcome that, Dynamic DNs is used to map a changing IP addresses on the router to a fixed domain name. "The Router" needs to have a built-in DynDns client.
Temporary, mobile, isolated surveillance sites? Use 4G
Connecting to the Internet through 4G networks is often the only option. Construction sites where is no demarcation point to get conventional ISPs or new buildings that can't wait a month to get service can immediately be hooked to the Internet using a Router that connects to 4G internet providers such us Verizon or Clear. "The Router" has a USB port that can be used to connect 4G USB dongles/modem from providers like Verizon or Clear to allow sharing the 4G access among multiple devices in the LAN.
In addition to all of the above, the Router needs to be reliable and not expensive.
Technical Director @ ABPTech