Published on 14 June, 2006
Robert Wint, Marketing Director, EMEA of Verint Systems talks about the growth of wireless CCTV and whether the existing technology is ready to change.
With the growth in the acceptance of wireless technologies, we are still yet to see the predicted rise in wireless video – indoor or outdoor. The technologies are converging and I believe we are on the cusp of a major boom in secure, digital wireless networked video. The benefits of wireless networking are well documented, and I won’t go over them again here, but I’d like to address the main issues that we have seen hinder the take-up of wireless video as form of CCTV deployment.
There have been two main issues that have hindered the take up of wireless video:
However, not so well documented are a further two issues that have been identified by educated installers of wireless video, namely:
The issues we have seen with security of analogue wireless technology over the recent years are the largest single area that most people cite as the reason for not progressing with wireless video. Effectively if you had an analogue video system in your building, it was possible, for anyone with the right technology, to tap into the system and see inside your building – an obvious pitfall! However, with digital wireless technology this issue is overcome, with various levels of encryption including AES – a ‘NATO’ level of encryption and SSL authentication – widely used in secure transactional internet sites. With robust encryption, the security reason alone is no longer valid for not progressing with wireless video.
Again, the main issue of reliability has been brought along by analogue wireless solutions. Outdoors, any bad weather brought major problems to a wireless environment. Also, any reflective surfaces caused ‘ghosting’ of video images – one extreme implementation on the coast saw a major problem as the tide came in and out!
However, in the digital world the 802.11 standard overcomes many, but not all of the reliability issues on its own. 802.11 is based on military technology and has largely overcome the reliability problem, especially when digital wireless solutions are combined with the TurboCell protocol which has a highly-optimised polling technique to improve the transmission and streaming of video. In combination with the optimised adaptive polling technique employed by a TurboCell base station, actual throughput performance of the 802.11 network is closer to optimal performance.
When you review the major strides forward in security and reliability of certain digital wireless video network solutions it could be hard to see why more hasn’t been made of the technology. However, two other issues surface, especially for those organisations who have tried deploying wireless technology – capacity and simplicity of deployment.
Within analogue solutions, whether you were using the 2.4 or increased 5.x GHz wireless bands you can only get three cameras streaming video of good quality, however with digital solutions that use high quality MPEG-4 (rather than JPEG) video in conjunction with the TurboCell polling protocol can actually achieve between 9 and 33 cameras installed on the 2.4 GHz bands, or between 33 and 120 cameras over the latest 5.x GHz bands. This allows for much more compressed video, over much longer distances than has previously been experienced.
Inherently, wireless video networking, whether digital or analogue involves many pieces of equipment, including encoders, wireless radios, telemetry, alarms, audio devices, etc. But technology differs greatly, and as such the extent of devices you do or don’t need differs too, technology is available that brings together wireless video, audio, PTZ control, alarms, motion detection, etc in a single box.
When you consider the initial issues covered of security and reliability, and combine the problems of wireless video capacity and the ease of implementation only a limited amount of vendors are able to deliver solutions, but of these manufacturers, only a handful is capable of networking multiple cameras in real time to a control room.
Some manufacturers offer a short-range, low-cost, 2.4 GHz product line based on 2.4 GHz 802.11b and a longer-range, higher capacity proprietary solution based on the 5.x GHz band. These solutions are combined with JPEG digital cameras and video servers to offer a wireless CCTV solution. At the control room, the video can be converted back to analogue and fed to a conventional matrix or digital DVR, or it can be integrated with a software-based DVR solution.
There are other manufacturers that offer a dual-band solution operating within 5.3 and 5.8 GHz bands. These solutions can be combined with JPEG cameras and video servers to offer a complete solution. At the control room, the video can also be transferred back to analogue or integrated with a third-party software solution.
However, Verint SmartSight offers outdoor multi-band products that covers the 2.4 GHz and 5.x GHz bands. This flexibility offers better support for the installation of multiple surveillance cameras in a single location. In contrast to other manufacturers, Verint SmartSight offers a complete secure AES-encrypted end-to-end CCTV solution. The wireless transmitter and digital compression codec are integrated on a single board within an outdoor enclosure. The technology is based on MPEG-4 and requires less than a third of the bandwidth required by JPEG, therefore achieving more video streams per wireless channel.
The closer integration of CCTV systems and wireless components will be a strong trend of future systems as it offers two important benefits:
The wireless network can be managed automatically based on real-time digital video requirements to improve network efficiency - this offers the opportunity to add more cameras per channel or to lower the bandwidth and achieve greater distances. It also facilitates network maintenance.
Network security can be greatly enhanced by integrating security within multiple system layers - the wireless digital stream and the video stream can both be encrypted; authentication can be combined at the application and wireless levels.
Typically perimeter protection is the current focus of CCTV integrators because the solution can be so compelling in terms of cost reduction when compared to cabling. Indoor wireless cameras and domes based on the 802.11a technology will soon follow. In a few years, this market should significantly outpace outdoor wireless products due to the size of the indoor camera market. A wireless camera brings many benefits to indoor CCTV. Installation costs are significantly reduced and cameras can be deployed anywhere within the building without physical constraints. Without the restriction of a coax or Ethernet cable, the cameras can quickly be redeployed from an existing security hot spot to a new location to make the best use of the CCTV system.