Feature Story

Adding Video Surveillance Thwarts Theft, Secures Business

By TMCnet Special Guest
  |  August 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 2011 issue of Unified Communications Magazine

Today’s business means doing more with less. For businesses, large or small, maximizing profits with less expenditure means there are more resources available to invest in future growth. VoIP has hands down delivered on its promise that networked voice and data improves communication and productivity, simplifies maintenance, and reduces equipment/monthly recurring costs.

However, a truly converged IP network also supports applications like wireless and video over IP (videoconferencing and video surveillance). How? Today, the majority of VoIP equipment is based on open standards like SIP, the application layer protocol that has emerged as the standard for controlling multimedia communication sessions like voice and video over IP. Open standards provide the flexibility to interoperate with multiple vendor equipment allowing small and medium businesses to future proof and extend the existing IP network by converging other critical business applications onto the infrastructure to increase ROI.

SIP-compatible devices today are everywhere. That includes telephone handsets, IP PBXs, IP multimedia phones, smartphones such as Apple’s (News - Alert) IPhone, and now IP surveillance cameras.

Now that SIP can carry real-time video signals together with audio to enable face-to-face communications, SMBs have access to a whole new set of tools to monitor business activities, thwart theft, and ensure security and protection. According to MarketsandMarkets, a U.S.-based global market research and consulting company, the video surveillance market is expected to grow from $11.5 billion in 2008 to $37.7 billion in 2015 at a CAGR of 20.4 percent from 2010 to 2015.

IP-based business surveillance solutions offer versatile security, superior picture quality, remote accessibility/monitoring, unlimited scalability and equipment affordability that prohibited SMBs from implementing them in the past. A huge barrier to entry that has been eliminated with IP is management concerns. The merging of voice, video and video surveillance using VoIP/SIP is easy to manage because the same technology that is found in any IP PBX and in a standard IP phone is also available on surveillance cameras and video phones. IP cameras and video phones from Grandstream Networks (News - Alert), for example, appear as another terminal on the PBX, making management of this integration of voice and video surveillance exactly the same.

Some SIP-enabled IP cameras offer bi-directional SIP/VoIP audio and video streaming capabilities that allow the cameras to receive or make calls, meaning users can dial the extension number of a specific camera to get real-time visual and audio from the location. That means instead of simply sending an e-mail to alert the user that motion has been detected, the IP camera makes a telephone call when an event is triggered, enabling the user to see and hear what is happening in real time, as well as having the ability to talk to whoever has caused the trigger.

Audio in video cameras allow SMBs to communicate remotely with visitors or intruders. Guards, for example, can virtually conduct a patrol and extend its coverage beyond a camera’s field of view. Accessing a PC or CCTV control system is not necessary, as a mobile phone or video phone from any location is all that’s needed to dial in or monitor what the camera is capturing.

Vensites, a technology firm in Latin America, is having great success working with SMBs to merge voice, videoconferencing and surveillance applications onto a VoIP single network. Millennium Mall, a popular shopping center in Venezuela, is using an assortment of SIP-based IP multimedia phones and IP cameras in its underground parking lot to ensure the safety of people and assets.

Other examples of using SIP video surveillance solutions include:

-Door-entry applications, for which a button is pressed to trigger the camera to make a call to a receptionist. The receptionist first talks to the visitor then enter a code on the phone informing the camera to release the door lock mechanism via an analog output. 

-Real-time visual clarification that an alarm has been triggered

-Retail shop owners can monitor back door entrance remotely for intruders, employees or deliveries. Once person is in the camera’s view, the camera calls owner’s video phone or mobile phone allowing him/her to view, in real-time, whether this is acceptable or a potential threat. The owner can then remotely call the camera and speak with the person or open the locked door. 

-Apartment buildings where all units have an IP multimedia phone that is used to view, speak, and unlock doors at main entrance.

-After-hours visual concierge for the hospitality industry. 

-Virtual receptionist or help desk for small business and enterprise.  

Ruth Seigel is a public relations representative for Grandstream Networks Inc. (www.grandstream.com).

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Edited by Stefania Viscusi