Video Over Internet Protocol the Buzz of ASIS


The American Society of Industrial Security seemed to have taken a cue from former NBC Sportscaster Marv Albert, who on David Letterman's program used to present the "wild, the wacky and the bizarre" moments of sports. At its annual conference and expo in Orlando this past month, oddities, ranging from appearances by the Hooters Girls to Jack Ruby's .38 Special filled the floor. The latter was on display at the booth of Video Protein, a company offering Internet-based video security monitoring for smaller businesses that might not have the capital to house or maintain a DVR system. Ruby's gun, the weapon used to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald on national television, was on display, according to the exhibitors, to ram home the impact of capturing live video.

But it was video over Internet Protocol—seemingly everywhere on the exhibit floor—that really dominated the show. According to Tom Galvin, director of video software solutions for G.E. Security, the buzz over IP video stems from the fact the physical security infrastructure of buildings is changing radically. Because of IP, owners can now shift a lot of the functionality of physical hardware such as switchers to their existing enterprise networks using emerging software.

Besides eliminating the need for a lot of hardware, said Galvin, the switch to IP also offers the opportunity to cut down on wiring requirements. For example, a typical dome security camera requires three cables—one each for power, video and data. With IP, including power over Ethernet (PoE), that can all be boiled down to one cable.

But it goes beyond the issue of cost savings. Security system designers, added Galvin, need to take real heed of this development, because frankly, purchasing practices in business are really changing, as IT departments emerge as the the major driver of communications infrastructure change in buildings.

This is something with which the security specialists at Deerfield, Il-based fire-protection consulting firm Schirmer Engineering couldn't concur more. They noted that the role of IT professional is, in their experience, hands—down the most critical and influential player in corporate America. This, according to Schirmer's Rob Lomb, is actually good news, as security is still one of the most scrutinized building systems on most projects—and one of the first eyed for the budget axe.

However, if security is included as part of an IT upgrade or system, explained Lomb, security measures are much more acceptable. On top of that, he said, much of the security equipment, thanks to IP, can be housed directly in server rooms or telecom closets.

"IT and security are really coming together," explained Lomb's colleague Steve Moritz. This initially was a challenge, but later a blessing. "By using the same infrastructure, we were forced into a team, but now it really helps us because we have a dedicated budget that also allows us to get life safety in there too."

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