Author: Sara Haber Santana

Internet Protocol (IP) technology has transformed the way we work, communicate and even entertain. Now, that same technology is changing the way we secure and protect the things we value most: our institutions, assets and people.

It wasn’t that long ago when we relied on the mailman to deliver our messages. In most cases, it took a stamp and three days to get our thoughts across to friends, customers or business associates. Today, we can accomplish the same thing at lightning speed, a thousand times a day, without licking a single stamp, thanks to e-mail applications that are affordable, reliable and available to almost everyone. The power of IP, the technology that makes this possible, is also evident in online movies, e-commerce and smartphones. We’ve come to depend on IP-based technologies for many of the things we do throughout our day; in fact, for most of us, it would be hard to imagine a world without it.

Whether it’s a message, movie or phone conversation, every service enabled by the Internet is made up of data packets. IP is the primary protocol used to deliver those data packets from a source device (such as a server) to a destination device (such as computer or PDA), doing so by relying on a unique IP address for each piece of equipment. Put another way, the use of IP ensures that all Internet-enabled devices communicate in a common language.

What does IP mean for physical security? Gone are the days of low-resolution analog cameras connected via coax cables to DVRs and tape recorders hiding in the janitor’s closet or some dark corner of your business. IP video surveillance systems enable high-definition cameras capable of enough detail to identify individuals in a crowd or license plates in a parking lot. With IP, ownership costs drop and reliability increases because these systems use the same LAN cables and data room infrastructure as any other IT application and are maintained by the same IT staff that maintains all other business-related applications. Additionally, IP is founded on standardization and that same principle carries over to IP-based physical security. Relative to the days of proprietary analog offerings, the open standards inherent in the Internet increase the utility of IP video surveillance systems by promoting innovation and an ever-increasing offering of compatible solutions.

Video surveillance began as a standalone, static and proprietary solution. As it has done for voice communication, e-mail and entertainment, IP has brought video surveillance out of the janitor’s closet and into a world where applications’ value and utility increase exponentially thanks to the ever-increasing reach of the Internet and the innovative and creative power pouring into Internet- based technologies from every corner of the world.