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CCTV in the Cloud – What does it mean?

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If we said that CCTV in the cloud is becoming more popular, would you know what we were talking about? Cloud CCTV is also known as VSaaS (Video Surveillance as a Service) and involves using the internet in your CCTV system – but how? Before we continue we should point out that these sorts of surveillance systems generate quite a bit of debate in the security industry, with some extolling the virtues of the technology, with others trying to explain we these systems simply aren’t ready yet.

We are going to present an un-biased view for you, giving you the facts you need to know to understand how VSaaS works, and present the benefits and disadvantages that such a system comes with. This discussion will be coming in two parts, with this months article looking primarily at the way these works work – what is the technology that drives cloud CCTV?

How VsaaS Works

VsaaS all begins with yet another strange term – an IP camera. An IP camera works much like an ordinary camera, but the information the camera picks up is converted into data that is easily transferable over the internet (hence the IP – internet protocol). This signal is sent to your broadband router at which point the video and audio picked up by the camera is transferred (uploaded) to the internet.

Now, before that last sentence scares you too much, the video and audio is uploaded to the (secure) servers of which ever VsaaS provider you are using. So, if your service is being provided by the company (this is completely made up by the way) “Ultra-Secure CCTV in the Cloud”, then your information from your camera is transferred to their servers (essentially their computers and hardware).

This now brings us on to one of the things that makes a system such as this unique – your video and audio is then accessible from any device that is connected to the internet. Generally, you don’t need special software; you don’t need your device connected up to any computer or system with wires; all you need is internet access. Plus, this device might be a laptop, PC, smartphone – as long as it has a browser.

Why the phrase “in the cloud”? The cloud is simply the term used by many technologies, services and industries for when your data and information is being stored on someone elses hardware and infrastructure. A really basic example of this is your email account. When you access your email, you do so via a web browser. You view all of your email information and data through the browser and none of that data is actually stored on your computer – it is all stored on the hardware of Google, Microsoft, or who ever your email provider is.

Much of the information provided here will likely provoke different reactions in different people (largely down to how much the individual already uses newer technologies) – some will be thinking “wow, the advantages of hosting this information on someone elses hardware are amazing”, while others will be thinking “this doesn’t sound useful at all – plus, I don’t want my information in someone elses hands!”. Both viewpoints have some merit. In the next installment on this series, we will be discussing the benefits and disadvantages in more depth, drawing on expert opinions from throughout the security industry.