IP video security networking requirements are not the same as those used for data networks
Differences between standard data applications and the requirements of networks designed for IP video security applications are critical for your system's performance

When the need to purchase a network switch arises, many IT directors immediately turn to two favourites, HP or Cisco. They have become to the networking environment what IBM was to computers: “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” Certainly, switches play a crucial role in enhancing your network by increasing its speed and capacity. However, it is equally important to note that they can also slow down your network and the same is explained in the article by Neil Heller - Vice President, Vigitron, Inc.

With the transition of video security systems from analogue to digital, IT network directors overlooked a key point in their rush to expand their jurisdiction over networking by adding the video security element. The fact is, IP video security networking requirements are not the same as those used for data networks. True, video transmitted over a network is data, but that is where the similarities end.

Network switch and its worthiness to IP camera

Nowhere are the differences more apparent than related to network switches and midspans. Let’s start by examining a standard network switch and its non-functional relationship to IP video security cameras.

We will begin at the switch port. In networking, information is transmitted in the form of packets. For most network switches, when the port is set at 100Mbps, the packet size is limited to about 1518 bytes. This is equal to about a two to three megapixel camera depending on the codec used, H.264 generating the smallest packet size and MJPEG the largest. Some switches that have port speeds to 1Gbyte can be programmed up to the Jumbo Frame, which defines packet sizes greater than 1581 bytes. Jumbo Frames are those that range between 1518 bytes and 9600 bytes. This latter ability wouldn’t present a problem with the exception that in networking, the output speed of a device must be matched to the input speed of the port.

As all IP cameras have output bandwidth speeds of 100Mbps, the input speed of the port must be set to 100Mbps. If the switch has an automatic port speed setting, it will sense the input speed from the camera and no manual setting is required. The problem exists when the packet output from the camera exceeds the limitation of the switch port setting at 100Mbps. In short, you can have issues with any cameras that are 3MP or greater.

If an NVR or VMS server is not communicating with an individual camera, you don’t know if the problem exists at control site device or the camera. Little consideration is given to the idea the problem may be the switch port and camera

Switch fabric estimation

The second concern is the internal switch connection between all the ports. This is called the switch fabric or throughput. In most normal data applications, either not all ports are used or the data at each port is far less than the port’s highest capacity. Again, this is not the case with IP video security applications where all ports are used and each port needs to operate at its highest bandwidth capacity. For this requirement, the switch fabric must be able to handle at least two times the total bandwidth of all the ports. For example, if you have a 24 port, each port with the ability to operate at 1Gbytes, the switch fabric must have a bandwidth of at least 48Gbyte.  Please note, there are no standards for switch fabric or port bandwidth packet size capacity. These are both quality issues.

The potential problems become clear as the megapixel size of a camera increases, as does the camera’s codec, and as the number of cameras in your system approach the maximum number of switch ports connected. The problem is often misunderstood. Operators don’t know why they only have good video quality when the camera capacity is less than the switch input maximum.

PoE-related concerns

Just as critical is the interaction between switch functions, or lack thereof, concerning PoE. Many of these centre around the lack of protection. This starts with the individual port, which is not fused. Shorts in any individual channel can render the entire switch inoperable when the main power fuse is broken. During normal start-up, PoE power required by each connected camera is sensed. If a short exists, or no camera is detected, or the amount of power requested by the camera exceeds the available port, the port will shut down. This is a function of the normal safety built into the 802.3 standards designed for PoE. When this occurs, the port is basically off and remains in the off condition as the physical Ethernet connection between the camera and switch port has already been established and new detection pulses are not generated.

There are several reasons this can occur. Even in properly installed systems, a good port-to-camera connection is not always established on the first try. Again, blame usually is placed on the camera. In some case, removing the Ethernet cable and reinserting will re-establish the connection. However, the first reactions are most likely to request a return authorisation from the manufacturer or ask for a service call from the dealer.

The second PoE-related problem is best illustrated by an actual installation. Several schools in a distant had PTZ cameras with more than half their inputs into a single PoE switch. As PoE power was applied, the PTZ domes move to their reference position, resulting in a surge so great that it damaged the switch’s power supply. While the safety built into the 802.3 standard can protect the individual port, it does not account for potential high power surges at the actual startup. For PTZs and other accessory features, the surge occurs only after initial communication is established and PoE power applied. The standard only applies to sensing the need for PoE, and if the PoE power requested is available. There is no protection against surges or the number of ports within a switch that are subject to surges.

During normal operation,
a PoE network switch has
no ability to account for
surges occurring from PTZ,
LED, Day/Night, Auto
Backfocus, and other
accessory features

During normal operation, a PoE network switch has no ability to account for surges occurring from PTZ, LED, Day/Night, Auto Backfocus, and other accessory features. If these occurrences have durations of greater than approximately 40ms or require more power than available at the port, port PoE will simply shut down, rendering the camera useless. This is a concern when the normal operating power of the power of the camera is at the edge of an individual power class and the surge exceeds that class power limit.

Within a network, connected devices pass through the switch. There is no connection accountability between the switch port and device connected to it. As such if an NVR or VMS server is not communicating with an individual camera, you don’t know if the problem exists at control site device or the camera. Little consideration is given to the idea the problem may be the switch port and camera.

Finally, there is the AUPC, or Actual Usable Port Count. A 24-port switch does actually have 24 ports, but when you consider that a least one port is connected to the recording or viewing device, the usable port count is reduced to 23, if the switch is connected in a series then you use two ports and the count is further reduced to 22.

All of these define the differences between standard data applications and the requirements of networks designed for IP video security applications. These differences are not defined by nor part of any of the standards that govern compatibility in networking standards. They are, however, critical in the performance and reliability of your security system.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

In case you missed it

Next-gen face recognition uses 3D sensing, AI depth processing and lower power
Next-gen face recognition uses 3D sensing, AI depth processing and lower power

Facial recognition is becoming more popular in newer systems for access control — a shift that began before the pandemic and has intensified with a market shift toward “touchless” systems. A new facial recognition platform is emerging that responds to the access control industry’s increased interest in facial recognition by expanding the concept with a new higher level of technology. At the core of the new system is high-performance, true-3D sensing with facial depth map processing at low power consumption, which enriches the capabilities of small-footprint access control devices. New proficiencies include anti-spoofing (preventing the use of a 2D photo of an authorised user to gain entry) and anti-tailgating (preventing an unauthorised person from gaining entry by following an authorised user) in real time and in challenging lighting conditions. The system uses “true 3D sensing,” which incorporates single-camera structured-light 3D sensing—as opposed to dual-camera depth sensing or IR video imaging-based approaches. AI vision processing and 3D sensing technologies The new “Janus reference design” incorporates AI vision processing, 3D sensing technologies, and RGB-IR CMOS image sensor technologies from Ambarella, Lumentum and ON Semiconductor. Specifically, Lumentum’s high-reliability, high-density VCSEL projector for 3D sensing combines with ON Semiconductor’s RGB-IR CMOS image sensor and Ambarella’s powerful AI vision system on chip (SoC). The Ambarella, Lumentum, and ON Semiconductor engineering teams worked together to incorporate their complementary technologies into the reference design. A reference design offers OEM product and engineering teams a fully functional engineering reference implementation that they can use as the basis for their own product. Teams will often customise a reference design with their choice of various third-party hardware components to fit their product specifications and positioning. They might also integrate their own software, algorithms, and back-end system integrations. The advantage to this approach is that the manufacturer can get to market quickly with a next-generation product that emphasises their core strengths. 3D depth information for facial recognition Generally, it takes between nine months and a year for a manufacturer to get to market using a fully functional reference design, such as the one developed jointly by Ambarella, Lumentum and ON Semiconductor. The Janus platform leverages 3D depth information generated via structured light for facial recognition with a >99% recognition accuracy rate. Traditional 2D-based solutions are prone to false acceptance and presentation attacks, whereas 3D sensing delivers advanced security—just as mobile phones use true-depth cameras for facial recognition. 3D facial recognition also significantly reduces the gender and ethnic biases demonstrated by some 2D facial recognition solutions. The Janus reference design is also aimed at future smart locks for enterprise and residential use: its unique single-camera 3D sensing solution will help OEMs overcome cost and manufacturability barriers, while the ultra-low power edge AI capability can effectively extend the battery life, which in turn reduces maintenance cost. Video security and access control Ambarella sees touchless access control, as well as the convergence of video security and access control, as the mega-trends driving industry innovation and growth—using video, computer vision, and 3D sensing to not only address safety and security, but also to improve the user experience and public health, says William Xu, director of marketing for Ambarella. The convergence of video security cameras and access control readers has been widely discussed by leading access control OEMs. In many cases, they already integrate video security cameras, readers, door controllers, cloud-access, and the like. In most enterprise installations, one would typically find security cameras installed where there are access control readers. Combining the two devices significantly reduces the maintenance cost and system complexity. “In comparison to fingerprint or other contact-based approaches, Janus-based access control is touchless—requiring no physical contact with authentication hardware such as fingerprint sensors or keypads—reducing infection risk while enabling a seamless experience,” says Mr. Xu. “The Janus platform provides true 3D depth information to prevent unauthorised individuals from mimicking legitimate users, and the advanced embedded AI processor enables tracking and anti-tailgating algorithms. Janus-based devices perform well in challenging lighting conditions and they are capable of authenticating multiple users simultaneously, with imperceptible latency.” Access Control and public health What was once purely a security challenge—namely, how to prevent unauthorised entry into a restricted area—has evolved into a public health challenge as well. Many traditional access control methods, from number pads to fingerprint readers, require touch in order to function, and if the current global pandemic has made one thing evident, it’s that minimising physical contact between users and surfaces is vital to community well-being. Janus was originally designed to facilitate the next generation of facial-recognition-based access control readers—enabling 3D sensing and high recognition speed for seamless authentication. COVID-19 has accelerated industry-wide research, development, and timelines for Janus-based solutions, says Mr. Xu. Deep learning and artificial intelligence drive all the new capabilities offered in Janus—capabilities that are only possible due to the platform’s high computational horsepower. The core deep learning and AI capabilities of Janus enable a wide range of advanced features only possible with an embedded vision SoC, says Mr. Xu. All are performed in real time, even when multiple users are being processed simultaneously. These include the extraction and comparison of facial depth maps with those registered in the system; 3D liveness detection, ensuring that the system can distinguish between real users and photo or video playback attacks; anti-tailgating, which relies on computer vision algorithms to detect and track when an unauthorised person follows a legitimate user inside; face mask detection; and people counting. VCSEL technology According to Ken Huang, Director of Product Line Management, 3D Sensing, Lumentum: “Lumentum’s VCSEL technology is one of the Janus design’s core strengths and differentiators. The process begins when Lumentum’s high-resolution dot projector projects thousands of dots onto the scene to create a unique 3D depth pattern of a user’s face. Most traditional biometric facial security systems rely on 2D images of users—simple photographs—which reduces authentication accuracy. In contrast, the 3D depth map generated by Lumentum’s technology provides the foundation of a more accurate, more secure, and more intelligent system overall. In addition, Lumentum’s VCSEL solutions incorporate a Class 1, eye-safe laser with zero field failures to date.” Adds Paige Peng, Product Marketing Manager, Commercial Sensing Division, ON Semiconductor: “If we think of Ambarella’s CV25 as the brain of the Janus design, the AR0237IR from ON Semiconductor is the eye. The AR0237IR image sensor captures the information, and the CV25 processes it. Other face recognition systems use two “eyes” – one to recognise RGB patterns to generate the viewing image stream, and another IR module to detect liveliness in motion. The Janus solution leverages a single “eye”—the AR0237IR—to obtain both visible and infrared images for depth sensing and advanced algorithms such as anti-spoofing and 3D recognition. AR0237IR also provides good sensitivity in various lighting conditions and supports high-dynamic-range (HDR) functions.” The single-camera 3D sensing solution for access control operates in three seamless steps: Step 1: Lumentum’s high-resolution dot projector creates a unique 3D depth map of a user’s face; Step 2: ON Semiconductor’s RGB-IR image sensor captures the high-resolution images from Step 1, even in low-light or high dynamic range conditions; Step 3: Ambarella’s advanced vision SoC takes the high-resolution images captured in Step 2 and uses deep neural networks (DNNs) for depth processing, facial recognition, anti-tailgating, and anti-spoofing while video encoding and network software run simultaneously.

Intersec 2021 cancelled, Messe Frankfurt announces that Dubai trade fair will now take place in January 2022
Intersec 2021 cancelled, Messe Frankfurt announces that Dubai trade fair will now take place in January 2022

Intersec, the world’s renowned security, safety, and fire protection trade fair, has been rescheduled to take place in January 2022, organiser of the trade event, Messe Frankfurt Middle East confirmed on September 24, 2020. The 23rd edition of the three-day event was originally set to run from January 24-26, 2021, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, in Dubai, UAE. However, the event has now been moved to 2022, after extensive consultation with key industry stakeholders. Intersec Dubai 2022 “We’ve spoken to many of our exhibitors, industry trade associations, supporters, and partners over the last couple of weeks and have heard first-hand the many challenges they’re facing putting pressure on their ability to participate at Intersec in January 2021,” said Alexandria Robinson, Intersec’s Show Director at Messe Frankfurt. He adds, “Moving Intersec to its customary January dates in 2022 at the Dubai World Trade Centre will allow time for recovery.” Webinar series in 2021 Ms. Robinson said Intersec will be very active throughout 2021, via its ongoing webinar series Ms. Robinson said Intersec will be very active throughout 2021, via its ongoing webinar series, while the team is now working towards creating a virtual event early next year, so as to engage industry leaders, regulators, government agencies and opinion formers. “We might be restricted physically, but we know there is a definitive need for critical conversations and discussions to address the challenges the industry has faced,” said Robinson. Digital forum to share ideas and solutions He adds, “By hosting these talks via a digital forum, it enables us to keep connected to the industry and nurture our existing relationships, whilst sharing solutions and common goals. We’ll share further details and plans about the digital event in the coming weeks.” Intersec’s popular free-to-attend webinar series, of which there’ve been 11 so far in the last four months, have kept thousands of attendees abreast of the latest industry trends and opportunities. Ensuring safety in COVID-19 pandemic period “We know we have a vital role to play in connecting and supporting the industry, and the Intersec webinars stimulate meaningful conversations, collaborations and success stories,” stated Robinson, adding “We will continue to run these and support our stakeholders in every way possible until we meet again personally, and safely, at Intersec 2022.” She further said, “One thing is absolutely certain, our community is resilient and will bounce back. It has been involved in many frontline situations throughout the course of this year and it will continue to play a critical role in the months ahead. Throughout 2021 and come January 2022, we’ll have much to share and learn from each other.” Intersec 2020 Intersec in 2020 featured 1,100 exhibitors from 56 countries, while attracting 33,872 visitors from 135 countries. The global industry event is supported by Dubai Civil Defence, Dubai Police, the Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA), Dubai Police Academy and Dubai Municipality.

The retail industry: securing life after lockdown
The retail industry: securing life after lockdown

For bricks and mortar retailers, there’s no going back to how it was anytime soon.  Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, they had been fighting a fierce battle against online shopping and significant e-commerce players.  The high street has done a pretty good job of evolving over the years. From its humble beginnings in the late 19th century to its boom in the late 20th, it’s constantly adapted to meet changing consumer needs. The risk to retail But, it’s now reported to be at risk. Sales and footfall started to dwindle decades ago. The dawn of internet shopping in the mid- 2000s saw numbers drop even more dramatically. Indeed, we have heard and seen reports repeatedly on ‘the death of the high street.’ Footfall went down to virtually zero, thanks to this year’s nationwide lockdown Making matters worse, footfall went down to virtually zero, thanks to this year’s nationwide lockdown.   Even Primark, the international ‘hero of the high street,’ saw their average £650m in weekly sales nosedive to nothing without an online presence. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Primark for one came back fighting, and is now expected to hit £2bn by the end of the year.  "After a period of store closure, we are encouraged by the strength of our sales," it’s owner AB Foods said in its latest trading update. And continued: "In the latest four-week UK market data for sales in all channels, Primark achieved our highest-ever value and volume shares for this time of year." The threat of new restrictions As we come to a ‘pivotal point’ in the fight against COVID, with threats of new restrictions, it’s time to think about what the next generation of our high streets will look like. The current crisis gives us some clues: it’s local, it’s data-driven and it’s tech-enabled.  Crucially, it’s proven to work. The digital high street One of the biggest changes the high street has had to adjust to is the digital revolution. New technologies have massively disrupted the way we spend. 82% of consumers now shop online, compared with just 53% ten years ago, with more than half of people aged 65 and over saying they shop online. Age is no longer a barrier. That’s meant that not only have in-store sales dropped, but shopping patterns have become erratic and harder to predict. From opening times to managing stock and staff – everything has had to adapt. We had to pivot quickly to create an online model The issue was exacerbated over lockdown, as consumers had little choice but to shop online. Digital retailers struggled with resources to fulfil orders, case in point was the endless wait times for supermarket delivery slots. But together, we managed to evolve. As nimble businesses, we had to pivot quickly to create an online model that could operate in conjunction with traditional stores, either via click and collect or similar operatives. And now, we are reaping the rewards. Countless high street pubs and restaurants are now allowing customers to order online and finding ways with new openings to take orders online and deliver a table service. It’s undoubtedly an adjustment, and one that will be easier for some to make than others – but those that can establish an omnichannel presence now will be in a strong position for the future. Online versus the high street Historically, in-store has come second to online for a lot of retailers: even those with omnichannel strategies tend to treat the in-store experience like something of a second-class citizen. Now’s the time to change that. The new online stores that have popped up are unlikely to go anywhere, even once lockdown ends. Their success is proof that getting online and in-store more aligned is an opportunity for, not a threat to, the high street. There needs to be the removal of the ‘physical versus online experience’ for brands, and instead blend the two together, which is made possible through mobile technology. Digital transformation grants a huge opportunity for traditional retail. And no better an example than Amazon, the poster child of online retail. Amazon had previously acknowledged the value of a physical retail channel and had opened physical locations for its books and fresh produce business streams. In August 2020, post COVID-19 lockdown, it has continued with its plan to open thirty physical stores in the UK. High street trends Alongside digital, many trends that were perhaps bubbling under the surface of the retail high street have now made their way to the forefront of securing the new landscape.  Sustainable shopping has been accelerated by the crisis. In the last couple of years, retailers’ attention has shifted to focus on making their supply chain and working practices eco-friendlier and socially responsible. Lockdown and our post-retail experience has seen a call for shopping and supporting our local businesses Lockdown and our post-retail experience has seen a call for shopping and supporting our local businesses. Shoppers are more engaged with their local high street now and visiting it more than ever before. Motivated by the instinct to protect their local community. Data has also been key to the new high street. This works both ways, as shoppers are now more informed and in control than ever before. The power of smartphones and increased data coverage has lead to simple but powerful capabilities, like being able to run a price comparison quickly and conveniently. Since a majority of consumers now operate with the ‘mobile mindset’, gone are the days when they will settle for what’s available. Surviving in this new world To survive in this new world, data can support creations of compelling omnichannel experiences.  It can help to build loyalty based on customer values, wants and needs.  And, it allows ways for retailers to understand how customers are moving around the high street to better predict their requirements. Data proves a holistic view of how, where and when customers spend.  Knowing where consumers spend time in store and in which department, demonstrates an understanding of their interests and purchasing choices.  Knowing these preferences, creates the foundation for any great customer experience. The technology-led high street In theory, with so many different opportunities for the high street, it is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. To deliver in practice, retailers need to lay the foundations for more efficient operations, to meet consumer demands quickly, efficiently, and cost (and time) effectively. Technology arguably holds the key to the challenges of raising standards.  And it’s in small ways that it can make a difference.  For example, instead of keeping customers waiting while members of staff hunt for a charged-up tablet device to look for stock levels or product information, an automated retail asset management solution means this essential knowledge is right at hand. Even seemingly simple processes can be automated to deliver service and improved business efficiency. For example, on average, it takes staff members six minutes to find a key or working device. That is equal to 42 minutes in productivity time every week for each employee, which can cause losses of up to £40,000 a year. This is where an effective key management system minimises downtime and cuts unnecessary costs. Traka is supporting businesses, including Primark and leading department stores, to implement new strategies for the critical control of access to key and equipment, enabling more effective use, and in turn quicker customer response times. Asset management solutions With a fully automated asset management solution in place, valuables such as keys, cash trays, stock and equipment (e.g. handheld scanners) can be monitored and maintained. A full audit trail with real-time reporting means retailers can see exactly who has removed which device, when it was taken and when it has been returned. This results in staff becoming more accountable and equipment being utilised more efficiently, eliminating the need for arduous and costly manual administration. Reshape the bricks-and-mortar infrastructure and breathe new life into the high street By streamlining processes and effectively protecting business assets, Traka supports in-store retail in their ambition to becomes a ripe opportunity to “innovate, delight and create stronger ties with customers.” And become an integral touchpoint in the future of commerce, helping retailers to adapt to the new retail landscape. In summary, there’s the opportunity to reshape the bricks-and-mortar infrastructure and breathe new life into the high street. The industry needs future-focused visionaries who can provide a fresh perspective and reinvigorate bricks-and-mortar retail in the years to come, utilising tools available to them to enhance their proposition to the new post-lockdown consumer.