Large Scale Security Camera Deployment

Hello fellow experts,

I have been given an opportunity to design and implement a video surveillance system for a fairly large franchise chain, consisting of 50 locations spread out in one city.

Now, we ourselves are an IT consulting firm for SMBs and have done IP security camera deployments, however none that had this many locations. The biggest we have done is 3 locations with 45 cameras total, all stored locally at the client locations.

Brands we have worked with:

Now, with this project, each location will need between 4-6 cameras. However, we would like to store all recordings offsite securely at the corporate head quarters. Perhaps we can develop some type of hybrid solution, with local recording that also gets backed up every hour or so offsite.

I know bandwidth will be our #1 challenge in this project, because the large video files will take a very long time to upload. We do not have details of their current bandwidth for all their locations.

What can you guys recommend IP camera wise for large scale deployments? It's going to be a fairly large system, but we are looking mostly for recommendations on camera hardware vendors and software. Building the backup infrastructure at the corporate headquarters will not be a problem, we plan on building out a full server rack with VMware and a SAN. Something outside of Cisco would be nice to see different pricing options.

Also, how do you suggest we connect all of the locations to the corporate headquarters? VPN tunnels would be the most secure but VPN overhead might be brutal for our uploads.

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btanExec ConsultantCommented:
With IP cameras, some key feature that I may be looking out for include
a)  local processing of the video image done during capture and analysis like motion detection
b) tampering detection logic raise alerts by communicating with a central server. The alert may use a variety of IP protocols, SMTP (E-mail), Syslog, File Transfer (FTP), or a TCP socket connection with a small keyword in the payload.
c) reliability element and resolution prowess e.g. offer wide dynamic range processing to handle harshly lighted areas that may not offer a well-defined image, bright areas that may be washed out and shadows that may offer little detail.
d) support high definition over standard definition so as to have fewer cameras required to cover an area of interest with a similar number of pixels per foot. Consider progressive scan image which has less motion blurring than an interlace scanned image

taking the cisco article for interest read, see the model of Virtual Matrix Scenario and Distributed Media Servers for wide deployment base. this also may in consideration if intent for Wide Area Application Services is needed as compression of traffic is key contributor

Virtualization, Isolation and Encryption of IP Video Surveillance - to view live and archived video feeds, an option to provide an authenticated and secure VPN connection (I am not a cisco folk though)

The VPN concentrator (Cisco VPN 3000 Series) is added to the topology to allow access for selected users in the global routing table to the command center VLAN. The Cisco VPN client on the workstations connects to the VPN concentrator to authenticate the end-user and create a private and secured access to view live or archived video feeds. Adding the concentrator demonstrates a technique by which an external agency, such as a law enforcement department, can be provided with secured and authenticated access over the Internet/extranet.

there are other use case worth checking out too

Israeli Wireless Communication For Russian Safe City Video Surveillance Project
Aaron TomoskySD-WAN SimplifiedCommented:
To add a little: I agree that onsite processing and even storage is going to be necessary with limited bandwidth. Then you are free to choose some type of sending those already recorded and compressed streams centrally. Id probably start with some type of sync like Dropbox/owncloud/btsync or more manual like rsync or even FTP. This could either be a push from each site or a pull from the central location, each has its benefits. It's important to have checks in place so you know the difference between no new files to sync and the sync itself failing.

For your central place, look at a supermicro box running zfsguru (FreeBSD) or whatever zfs based os you are comfortable with for inexpensive but large and fast storage.

If your onsite storage was also zfs based, you could use zfs to sync the filesystem without any outside programs. The zfs send/receive setups I have done are all over ssh with compression and no need for always on VPN tunnels. However you can do the same with rsync or other programs.
btanExec ConsultantCommented:
Thought it is also good to poll vendor if they able to advise base on the handbook...

Analysts (IMS Research) report that by 2015, more than 70% of all network cameras shipped will be capable of delivering megapixel resolutions. In recognition of this shift in the security industry, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) recently released a handbook documenting the guidelines for best practices in design, selection, and deployment of video surveillance systems (VSS), as well as identifying the minimum requirements for infrastructure devices and components....

Link ..
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There is thousand choices option in hardware /software.
Main question would be choice between quality of video+ snapshot or continuous=total bandwidth per site against actual bandwidth can be run to this location.
Average 2MP IP CCTV right now is about $100-300 and probably most effective price/quality proportion.
You can use simular to this bandwith calculator
or if want be more precise, test actual , while running 4-6 cameras out of location- most of of the routers/switches capable to show port utilization.
In other word, if you need high quality video and be capable store footage offsite, you would not be able bypass ISP bandwidth limitation, unless you sacrifice quality.
It might be cheaper, ship daily/weekly/monthly removable harddrives out of each location, and have them on constant rotation.

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It would be cool if your system was tunable in the sense that at first, while bandwidth is limited, it sends a LQ stream or snapshots every X seconds but in 10 years when bandwidth is not an issue you can just open the flow full on without replacing the image aquisition infrastructure.
Many currently exist IP CCTV software already have it implemented.
As well with IP CCTV not a big deal develop custom aps.
There is many way to do so, you can all stream out of all cams, but in bulk of degraded quality, at desired bandwidth utilization.
SpejAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the answers so far. Let me add several points:

-The cameras will be mostly used to watch inventory and registers/transactions during daylight hours
-Video quality doesn't necessarily have to be high quality
-Bandwidth will be a problem, so the design has to play nice with slower speeds
-The camera's need to have the ability to be seen on iOS/Android via mobile apps (this is an absolute must for the owners)
-Live stream/recordings will be viewed mostly from the corporate HQ PC's also, eliminating the need for a VPN Concentrator/Policy requirement (however we will be using Cisco gear, so VPN policy creation is still possible)
-Motion detect recording will be used to save on space
-Hoping to utilize POE for every camera

What's the best way to upload files from all the stores back to corporate HQ? Would an MPLS configuration serve as a better platform? Someone mentioned Dropbox as a solution, however we would like the storage of files to be in our possession at the corporate HQ.

Also, I should add that we have also worked on an Axis System with IP cameras that was deployed across 15 locations, and the software worked quite well for viewing from a PC or Laptop, however the storage was local to each location.

SpejAuthor Commented:
The bigger question here is: who is the right vendor or vendors to work with, any suggestions?

We do not really need any type of PTZ or anything on these cameras. We also don't need video analysis or anything of that nature in the software. Alerts will work well if we added them afterhours for motion detection or tampering, but not much outside of that. There are employees on site working, however the owners want to keep a close watch on the transactions/money.

The biggest feature we need is software that plays nice with 50 locations and also allows us to view by location each camera from corporate HQ.
Looks like you should go head and enable remote storage, utilizing existing options should be provided by Axis, if not, work out upgrades, worse case switch to other vendors, GeoVision is pretty flexible and close to your requirements.
Mobile aps does not require high bandwidth- their screen resolution very low anyway, view cams from mobile devices is not the issue.
From what you saying, there should be no problem keep transferring files "on the go", most DVR do have option transfer file over low bandwidth link, if for example its happen that all cams start recording at once, existing  CCTV DVR's will handle buffering, so no need to be bother with "extra" -MPLS/else, as long you rules in place allowing transfers supported by particular hardware.
You just need to work out details with Axis how to do so in details.
btanExec ConsultantCommented:
Securing large areas with adequate camera coverage can be challenging, and the use of pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras often does not suffice in these applications. A PTZ camera can only be pointed in one direction at a time and can miss important or security-threatening events in another part of the coverage area. Panoramic view cameras don't miss anything; a single 180° or 360° panoramic view camera can cover a large area that would require many conventional cameras or multiple PTZ cameras.

Panoramic view cameras are available with 180° and 360° imaging capabilities, and 8- or 20-megapixel resolutions (which will continue to increase). This allows even larger areas to be viewed with the ability to capture precise details. A panoramic camera with 20-megapixel resolution can replace many analogue or standard definition IP cameras to provide comprehensive and continuous coverage of a large area. This includes PTZ cameras which may be pointing in the wrong direction when events of interest occur.

May want to check out Arecont Vision's products

Also the Cisco Video Surveillance Manager solution supports the configuration of PTZ cameras connected to encoders or as IP cameras.  In order to support PTZ connectivity, the encoder should be able to connect to the camera through a serial interface. The Video Surveillance Manager solution supports the following PTZ protocols:
•Bosch•Cohu•J2 Vision•Pelco D•Pelco P
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