What you need to know when designing a video surveillance system
When designing, refreshing, or upgrading a video surveillance system, five core principles should be considered before deployment. These key points will help ensure that the video surveillance solution will meet everyone's needs without compromising network infrastructure.
- Identify all stakeholders for the project and areas for improvement or have the highest need for cameras.
- Develop a video retention policy for investigative or evidentiary purposes.
- Ensure the system being deployed is scalable and has an open architecture.
- Make sure that the deployed system does not expose your network potential cyber threat vectors.
Identify your key stakeholders by examining who will maintain, update, and regularly access the system in order to distribute permissions appropriately. For example, restricting access to live and recorded video, moving a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera, recording audio, downloading and saving video, or making changes to the system are tasks you will want to cover with day-to-day users.
A video surveillance system has many components to it, and most require periodic updates for both security and functionality. Knowing who will maintain the system will allow for feedback on what they need to do their jobs properly. This team will generally cover things like camera firmware deployment, VMS update schedules, and which OS will be used to deploy the VMS. In some environments, a combination of IT staff and building maintenance or security will be responsible for keeping the system running.
Once the stakeholders have been identified, work with the daily users to ascertain the most significant coverage areas (e.g., blind spots that guards or physical security personnel or high congestion areas).
When deciding on camera placement, discuss how the footage from the area will be used:
- Is it essential to identify a person specifically, or is a general view appropriate for this spot?
- Will video or images of people need to pass through facial recognition software?
- If capturing vehicles, will there be a need for license plate recognition?
When dealing with object character recognition (OCR), there are several factors that images must meet for the OCR software; understanding those requirements before camera deployment will ensure the correct camera is going in the proper place before installation even begins.
The surveillance system should be designed around the idea of helping supplement your security presence and allow the physical guards to respond to incidents quickly while increasing their visibility.
2. Policy Development
Determine how long and where the video will be stored. Be sure to follow any local or state government guidelines when creating the retention policy. However, you can exceed those requirements if your network architecture or budget allows for it. Stand by the retention policy and guarantee that all stakeholders and end-users are aware of how long video is stored to set expectations on how long people have to request the video and limit surprises when someone inevitably asks for a video that has been deleted. Along with storing the main archive for a set amount of time, the chain of custody is imperative to create policies for who should retain evidentiary clips and how long they should be kept and policies for distribution. If the video must be used in court, this will help maintain evidence integrity.
3. Scalable and Open Platform
Confirm that you are deploying a scalable, open platform system. As cameras go up and the system is being used daily, stakeholders may find more places where cameras are needed. Some systems are limited by the number of cameras each box can handle, so it is vital to understand the limits of the overall system and how much each box can manage.
It is equally important to choose an open platform. Closed systems offer advantages in terms of maintenance costs and are typically cheaper upfront, but they are not as flexible. Equipment will need to be replaced or upgraded. In a closed environment, it generally ends up requiring a "forklift" replacement of all or most of the components in the system. Choosing an open platform mitigates much of that cost by giving you more options, and not being beholden to one manufacturing option allows for a best of breed solution to be developed. The VMS should support multiple camera manufacturers, and, in turn, the cameras should be supported by several different VMS software manufacturers.
Ensure the systems in place help secure the physical environment and do not expose the network or the IT infrastructure. As the number of devices on the network increases, the potential for exposure increases. Cybersecurity safeguards guarantee the headend and edges of your surveillance system are closed off. Actively monitoring for potential cyber threats is another way to keep TCO low and will give the IT staff peace of mind knowing that the surveillance system is limiting the network exposure. Following guidelines from NIST, PCI, OWASP, and similar organizations, along with taking a layered approach to cybersecurity, will help alleviate concerns from the IT group.
After your system is deployed, continuous monitoring provides holistic management of any threats or challenges that arise. Monitoring software, like Razberi Monitor™, alerts security personnel to potential hacking and device failure as well as which device is requiring attention. This allows for a reduction in costly truck rolls and service calls. The critical items to monitor are:
- Server/appliances and storage - Server status, RAID, overall disk health, malware, and virus alerts will allow for preventive maintenance before a catastrophic failure.
- Switch health and network traffic - To reduce chances for high jitter and lost video, we want to make sure the video streaming is unencumbered and latency is low.
- Cybersecurity - Cybersecurity has made its way from strictly IT into every portion of our life. We live in a digital world, and most video surveillance systems are connected. With connectivity comes vulnerability and cybersecurity concerns. As we deploy digital security systems, we must have visibility to and monitor its cyber posture.
- Cameras and IoT devices - Cameras and IoT devices are complex and run at the edge of the network. Streaming video, audio, providing logical inputs, and outputs are just a few services these devices offer. Gaining insight into these services and their health broadens the scope of the camera and IoT monitoring. Incorporating some digital labor into the monitoring to perform a PoE reboot upon loss can address the issue until a technician can gain access to the site in many cases.
Overall, monitoring will protect your investment and give you peace of mind.
Building Your Network
The five core principles serve as a jumping-off point for deploying a surveillance system that meets the needs of all groups involved, ensures that the deployment will not open the overall network to unauthorized, rogue devices. These principles also make certain that the system in place can grow and adapt to your environment as the needs for the system change.