With it becoming more common for integrators to incorporate edge devices into their installation projects, it seemed only natural for SSI editors to address the subject in the January feature “Video Continues to Enhance Its Security Image.” In this piece, a dozen top technology providers identified the latest and greatest video surveillance technologies for 2011.
What can you expect from these devices — where more processing and storage of video data takes place on the edge of the network — this year? Verint Product Manager Guy Shahmoon offers his edge device expertise in this Q&A, and also brings to light an important issue: the proper integration of the technology. Here, Shahmoon stresses the importance for integrators to understand the technology behind edge devices before selling or installing them.
What’s new for edge devices in 2011?
Guy Shahmoon: First, we should talk about compression because it is definitely becoming a de facto standard. H.264 compression provides better compression than MPEG-4, which translates to a lower bitrate, bandwidth and storage with better video quality. H.264, when it is compared to MPEG-4, can compress close to 50-percent better for the same perceived video quality. This is a very powerful technology that more organizations are requiring their edge devices to support it.
The second point is something we’re seeing more and more with IP cameras, offering higher resolution. With the introduction of IP cameras, a new range of high resolution cameras can now be offered — megapixel and high definition cameras — which eventually translates to better quality of video and a higher level of security in terms of being able to capture wider areas and at the same time capture more details in the image.
Also, because of the fact that technology is advancing, more powerful DSPs [digital signal processors] are now available. With the introduction of these new technologies, edge devices can now provide better performance with higher resolution and higher frame rates.
Edge devices are also becoming more IT friendly, which provides easy maintenance and support capabilities. Those IT-friendly [devices] also provide better security that users can leverage like, IEEE802.1X. Being IT-friendly also means that if there is a problem with the video input or if something happens to the device, it will be able to use SNMP [simple network management protocol], to send alerts to another system regarding its health. This protocol is standard in the IT industry to communicate the health of a device to a central monitoring server. It also gives a rich Web interface, so it can be managed very easily from any place, and the user and personnel responsible to maintain the system can access the edge device very easily through standard tools. In the past, it was much more difficult to access a device, change configurations, check the log files and see the health status of the device. Now, it’s much more intuitive and easy to integrate with the IT infrastructure.
Additionally, edge devices are more ‘green’ and environmentally friendly. This means not just being compliant with ‘green’ standards, restricting the use of hazardous substances, but it’s also about lower power consumption. When using one or two devices, it’s not an issue, but when using hundreds of devices, every watt that we can save can be translated into a major saving to the organization and the environment.
Another important point is providing more intelligence on the edge, e.g. analytics. Being able to run analytics on the edge instead of sending all the video to the central location and then process it, the edge device is smart enough to detect if there is motion and even provide surveillance analytics like, tripwire detection, object related analysis and more.
What are the challenges that edge devices face?
Shahmoon: Since edge devices are becoming more complex, with many manufacturers offering them, it’s now becoming more important to have a good integration between these edge devices and the video management software [VMS]. Without that, the VMS cannot leverage these advanced features edge devices offer in a seamless and reliable fashion.
How is this issue being addressed?
Shahmoon: When we develop an edge device, we run it through hundreds of tests and make sure that every part of the integration is tested and reliable. Verint also integrates with third-party edge devices as part of the open platform solution.
The other way to address these challenges is to standardize the communication between an edge device and the VMS. There are two standards that are evolving as we speak: ONVIF and PSIA. [The standards are] still not comprehensive enough to cover the all the features the cameras or edge devices can provide today. In the future, we will definitely see more VMS and edge device manufacturers supporting ONVIF and PSIA. This will eventually help and ease the integration and should make it more reliable and seamless.
What is the most important thing integrators should know about installing edge devices?
Shahmoon: The more complexity these edge devices are bringing, the more the integrators need to be experts. They need to understand the technology. They need to know how to connect and set up the edge devices, the VMS and the network, and they need to know these products well.
It is important that they understand how [edge devices] operate and how they are integrated with the VMS. It’s not just installing an analog camera anymore. I think the real challenge is more around the network: How do they make sure that the network is set up properly to support the deployment? There are more devices sitting on a network, so there are more areas that the integrator needs to look at from an IT perspective. Some of these areas are touching other parts of the organization in terms of the infrastructure. [Integrators] need to be aware and know how to do a proper design and planning with these edge devices.
How will offering edge devices benefit integrators and end users?
Shahmoon: One, they can offer better security coverage. I mentioned before high resolution, higher frame rate, better quality, analytics, storage and intelligence on the edge. These contribute to a better level of security coverage for the customer, which should make it easier to sell.
The second is a quicker return on investment [ROI]. [Integrators] can really show the customer that with the edge devices, they can get a quicker ROI to what they invested, which will eventually return itself very quickly. Since the devices are now more IT-friendly, and they have lower power consumption, they don’t have to spend the same amount of resources and time to maintain these devices in the long term.