Monitor Your Business on The Web

by Tabrez Khan    Sep 18, 2008

Imagine a company thousands of miles away in Europe being able to view in almost real-time what’s going on at its captive BPO unit in India. Or imagine that you have bought property abroad and you can view real-time video images of it anytime so you are secure about it. Or you may even be able to ensure your children’s security, while they are staying abroad, all this through IP-based surveillance cameras.

Also called network cameras, the systems have an integrated web server and an IP address assigned to it. Video and audio travels over the IP network to authenticated users who have installed these cameras and have secured access provided to them.

The ability to stream video and voice over the Internet is what differentiates it drastically from earlier analogue wired cameras, which would work only locally. Besides elaborate control rooms and security personnel were needed to monitor those older versions.

Web-enabled Network cameras have made possible the real-time monitoring of a site where the camera is installed from virtually anywhere in the world, as long as there is network access.

“We have deployed IP-based surveillance solutions in sectors such as the government, oil & gas, petroleum, hospitality etc. Enterprises in other segments such as transportation, construction and retail are also deploying IP-based surveillance solutions,” says Prakash
Prabhu, country manager-India for Axis Communications, a company that manufactures network cameras. It has system integration partnerships with companies like Honeywell, Ingram, Siemens who integrate IP-based applications and other components into the network cameras and customize them for various industry segments.

Some commercial establishments where Axis’ network cameras have been deployed include BPCL, HPCL, Mumbai’s international airport and the newly built international airports at Hyderabad and Delhi.

Apart from their more routine usage in the above sectors, there’s an exciting range of possibilities with IP-based surveillance systems, says Prabhu. Built in motion sensors and heat and smoke detectors for instance can make them ideal for fire prevention, lighting, and access control in intelligent buildings. All these aspects can be controlled from a central location in an intelligent building that would offer enhanced security and more hi-tech convenience to residents.

Retail establishments can customize the solution with motion sensors installed which not only take care of the store’s security but also count footfalls in that store. Installing more specialized software can enable a store to keep track of the conversion ratio, which racks are getting more visitors and similar other business intelligence that conventional software cannot deliver.

Public infrastructure such as airports, railway stations etc are under increasing terror attacks and the network camera can be handy for security in these establishments.

The level of customization and the intelligence that can be built-in to these cameras is vast, says Prabhu. “We have assigned IQ levels to these cameras, according to the level of intelligence built into them, says he. For instance, with the help of pre-installed parameters coupled with motion sensors they can pick-up an object such as a bag lying idle for a long time or a person behaving suspiciously and raise an alarm.”

The only constraint so far with any IP-based video transfer has been the tendency to consume huge bandwidth. In network cameras this constraint has been removed through a new video compression standard called H.264 that compresses video files to a great extent.

H.264 can reduce the size of a digital video file by more than 80% and 50% respectively compared with conventional video standards such as Motion JPEG format and the MPEG-4 Part 2 format,k according to Prabhu.

This signifies reduced network bandwidth and storage space requirements for a video file.

“The market for network cameras in India is a growing one. We are hopeful of increasing deployments in the future,” concludes Prabhu.