Cloud CCTV and what is really involved
At the moment I am constantly being told by customers that they want to move to Cloud Based CCTV because it offers huge cost saving opportunities. Yes the cost of cloud based storage could be attractive as a monthly charge with no maintenance costs for recording hardware and I would agree that this would offer a cost saving if this was the only cost factor involved.
A cloud in the sky all sounds very fancy
In essence a cloud is simply a remote server that you have access to with a network connection. If you have servers at work you can access from outside your offices they would be work clouds likewise if you have a networked drive at home that you can access remotely this will be your home private cloud. By thinking of the system this way any networked or networkable CCTV systems installed can be connected to your corporate or home network and accessed remotely essentially becoming a cloud in their own right.
Every cloud has a silver lining... is this really the case?
There are two main flaws I personally see with complete cloud based CCTV. The first is the bandwidth issue. An average analogue camera can produce up to 1 Mbit/s of traffic depending on settings. The national average for broadband upload (upload is the key area as you are sending information out) is 800 Kbit/s (80% of potentially one camera). Even a small shop or office will have a minimum of 8 cameras so an installer would need to reduce the frame rate and quality settings to reduce the traffic and bandwidth requirement. Think of it like a hose pipe; say I needed 1 litre of water in my paddling pool each second but my pipe will only allow 500ml every second my paddling pool will not fill up as quickly as I want no matter how fast the tap runs.
Reducing quality and frame rate brings its own problems as the lower the quality of the frame rate and the less frames means less chance of sufficient evidence. To add to the network issue there is also the amount of data being transmitted. A 16 channel analogue system has a 1-2Tb HDD installed for 31 Days recording. This would mean to keep the system at the same settings you would need to transmit up to 2Tb a month. The costs for transmitting this much data each and every month will be “cloud” high and would far exceed any fair use policy for unlimited internet usage. This doesn't even go into what the backup plan is for when the network goes down.
It is worth noting that the above is based on analogue. The CCTV market is rapidly moving to HD and files are at least 4 times the size.
Is the cloud secure?
One other area that was highlighted to me by a Forensics officer to the flaws of cloud based CCTV is the integrity of the network. Whilst you will have a secure network and the cloud will be secure there is no guarantee that packets of data will not be lost in transit. Although, this may not show up on the video file being played it may become a problem if stripped down and checked as evidence. If one packet is missing that could deem the file inadmissible in court. However, there has been little evidence of this happening at the moment but this is something the police are looking into.
My personal recommendation at this present time would be to stick to on site recording. This presents us with a few options. The most cost effective option would be to investigate the network options for a DVR currently installed. If this is networkable it could be accessed remotely via the manufacturers normally free issue VMS (Video Management System). Should you want to upgrade to a networkable DVR then I would suggest looking into a Hybrid option. These units will make the best of your existing infrastructure whilst offering the ability to install new HD cameras allowing use of technologies such as Analytics and Edge Based Processing.
There are other options available to gradually move over to IP and whilst the prices for cameras are not as cheap as analogue, savings can be made in other areas. Camera numbers can be reduced and infrastructure can be utilised. Our Sales teams are fully trained to talk to you about the options available and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.