What School IT Teams Should Know About Investing in Next-Generation Security Cameras
Next-generation video surveillance is shaking up the typical school IT infrastructure. Before video was encapsulated in IP, many school physical security teams kept their distance from in-building IT infrastructure and, instead, ran parallel data networks on campus as they migrated to Video over IP. Those days are rapidly ending as security camera networks merge with campus IT infrastructure.
As physical security teams start to deploy the next generation of surveillance cameras, IT teams need to get up to speed on these key changes to the technology and its use. Here’s what to look out for when working with physical security staff to scout next-generation cameras for campus security.
Why Do Schools’ Smarter Cameras Need Strong Bandwidth?
Next-generation security cameras can do a lot of processing on the camera itself, which has important implications not only for bandwidth use but also for cost and power consumption. Older cameras sent video continuously to network video recorders (NVRs). This created a constant load on the network, typically 4 megabits per second, per stream, with H.264 compression for standard Full HD 1080p (1920×1080) cameras. Now multiply these numbers by four for the newest 4K resolution cameras.
Today’s smarter cameras have variable frame-per-second rates and variable resolutions. With onboard processing, the camera can detect motion or changes in the picture, and kick from a constant low resolution and low FPS rate to a higher resolution and higher FPS rate to improve the quality of the recording when it is really needed.
For IT and physical security teams looking for meaningful upgrades, these high-resolution smart cameras also deliver incredible capabilities, such as motion and object detection, privacy zone masking, built-in infrared illumination and image enhancement, and more efficient use of expensive NVR storage.
How Should K–12 IT Teams Engineer Networks for Next-Gen Cameras?
Having variable resolutions and frame rates puts IT teams at a disadvantage when building networks because it’s difficult to know whether a network port is going to be attached to a camera monitoring an unused classroom or one watching a busy school hallway. Thus, even with smart cameras, it’s best to plan for maximum data rates and high-power utilization (Power over Ethernet Plus) from every attached camera, smart or otherwise.
IT teams should be careful to budget for maximum continuous bandwidth when looking at interswitch uplinks out of wiring closets that may have dozens of cameras active at once. They should also place video cameras on separate virtual LANs and use a per-VLAN spanning tree on the LAN to help spread the load.