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Knowing how to network

In today’s business and economic climate, purchases are being scrutinized more as end users are looking to justify their selection based on very precise requirements.

January 12, 2011  By Steve Bocking

Also, as IP systems become more prominent, IT staffs are getting involved in decision making for security. The result is more demand for technical expertise. Therefore, the value proposition of the integrator sales representative should not only be offering high-level assessments of security risk, but also additional information on how the entire IP video system should be configured and designed.

This ultimately means that the integrator sales representative today needs to be a jack of all trades. They have to know how to do a basic risk assessment, stay informed about the security products being offered (IP cameras, readers, controllers, management systems, etc.), and know the basics of computer engineering and IP network infrastructure. The most daunting of all of these can often be discussing the networking aspects of a CCTV system.

In my opinion, it is not necessary to be a networking expert to sell an IP system. However, it is important to have one on staff to offer guidance in more complex designs. So here are a few key questions and rules of thumb that can help when doing a high-level network design for an IP video system.

Will the end user be using the corporate network or creating a separate dedicated network for the security system? I personally think one negates some of the key cost-saving advantages of re-utilizing the corporate network by creating a separate dedicated network, but it is an important first question to ask.


If re-using corporate network is selected, the involvement of the company’s network administrator is crucial and this is the time to include them in discussions, if they have not been already.

How much bandwidth is available on the corporate network for the IP camera system? The good news is most corporate networks are more robust than ever, and often are built on Gigabyte backbones (1,000Mbps). There are too many cameras on the market today to calculate all bandwidth consumption scenarios, but as a “catch all” conservative calculation for an H.264 IP camera at 30fps HD resolution (1280×720), an integrator can estimate 2Mbps. Of course, this may vary based on the scene filmed.

Based on this estimation, if an integrator has a project with 10 HD IP cameras, they could approximately require 20Mbps of the network, which represents 2 per cent of its usage. So if the end user has a corporate Gigabyte network, the IP camera application should be fine.

However, if the network is only 100Mbps, the security system may be viewed as requiring too much bandwidth. In this case, the integrator may suggest reducing the video quality to reduce bandwidth consumption or building a dedicated network.

In summary, at the very basic level, it is important to know if you will be using a corporate network or one dedicated to security application. Of course, there are many different factors involved, but armed with the information above, integrators should be able to judge feasibility of a camera project, start preliminary specification and gather key information to bring back to their network expert.

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