Video over IP

Advantages & Dis-advantages of Wireless IP Surveillance Cameras

By now, you should be familiar with the advantages of IP Video Surveillance over Analog/DVR Video Surveillance. Basically, IP Video Surveillance uses IP Cameras / Management Software to capture, transmit and view video surveillance footage over the computer network and even across the Internet. One of the biggest advantages of IP Networks is the ability to use wireless medium to transmit information, including video. So, in this post let us have a look at some of the main advantages and disadvantages of wireless IP Surveillance Cameras.

Advantages of Wireless IP Surveillance Cameras:

1. Wi-Fi based wireless broadband services could be used for public surveillance systems (Surveillance of a locality, street, traffic junctions, etc).

2. Wireless surveillance cameras can be useful in situations where it is difficult to lay cables – Museums, Heritage buildings, Industrial plants, etc.

3. Wireless surveillance system is cost effective (when compared to wired networks involving Fiber Cables, Trenching, etc) to install and maintain.

4. Wireless Networks can be deployed quickly and wireless surveillance can be used for providing temporary Wi-Fi to fairs/ exhibitions, etc.

5. Wireless Point-to-Point back-haul networks could extend the network to more than 5 KM over the wireless medium, if required.

6. Wireless networks are quite secure these days as most of them use 802.1x authentication & encrypt communications using WPA2.

7. Wi-Fi Mesh networks can connect to each other (over the wireless medium) to form a nearly all wireless network in a given location. These Mesh networks allow multi-path propagation & can automatically choose alternate paths to avoid single point (link/device) failure.

8. A Wi-Fi network supports QoS (Quality of Service) parameters to be configured for carrying real-time traffic. Basically, the real time traffic is identified in the network and is given higher priority over data traffic.

9. Wireless IP Surveillance cameras can be moved from one place to another without worrying if cable/network jack is available at the new location. In fact, entire wireless setup (including access points, etc) can be moved to a new location easily and quickly.

10. Mobile video footage capture – Its possible to capture video footage using a wireless IP surveillance camera installed over a police car when it is moving (for example).

11. The quality of indoor wireless cameras could be enhanced by using Wireless Controllers to create and maintain a wireless network.

12. Digital Compression techniques like H.264 & H.264 SVC offer a quality video stream in low bandwidths.

Dis-advantages of Wireless IP Surveillance Cameras:

1. If the wireless network is not properly configured, there would be interference from access points operating in the same channel (From internal and neighboring AP’s) which would reduce the quality of the Wi-Fi network.

2. The most commonly used Wi-Fi network band – 2.4 Ghz has only three non-overlapping channels and is always over-crowded. Besides, non Wi-Fi devices like Microwave Owens, Bluetooth devices, etc can interfere with Wireless networks.

3. For long-haul backbone wireless networks, Line of Sight might be required. Even for Wi-Fi access networks (that don’t require a Line of Sight), the signal strength and signal quality might be affected due to interfering objects like Glass, Trees, Elevators, Metallic Racks, etc.

4. Wireless networks offer sufficient bandwidth when IP Surveillance Cameras are placed near the Wireless Access Points. But the bandwidth decreases with increasing distance.

5. IEEE 802.11n is the latest wireless standard that offers more bandwidth + increased wireless coverage distance. But many Wireless IP Surveillance Cameras do not support this standard and even if they do, they might support a reduced MIMO configuration.

6. Packets arriving out-of-order (due to wireless transmission) may result in degraded video quality & stateful compression techniques are intolerant to packet loss.

7. Performance of Wireless Mesh Networks decreases considerably with each (additional) hop. So, the area that a mesh network can cover (and hence its size) is limited.

8. Quality of Service (QoS) parameters should be set end to end to ensure good quality video transmission over IP networks and all the active devices used in the network should be configured for consistent QoS settings.

9. POE Injectors / POE Switches cannot be used with Wireless IP Surveillance Cameras. So, power cables / power source should be arranged for each of them separately.

10. Each video stream occupies a certain bandwidth. So when a lot of video streams are simultaneously transmitted over a wireless network, it might be overwhelmed.

So, what has been your experience with Wireless IP Cameras? Would you go for an all wireless IP surveillance implementation in your campus?

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