Wireless surveillance safety

September 2015 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions, IT infrastructure

A local academic institution has recently launched a Safe Public Routes project for the purpose of providing surveillance at various identified crime hotspot areas surrounding each of their four properties. An electronic security system was used to increase security awareness and minimise crime in these areas, to the benefit of students.

The solution behind this electronic security system consists of Dynacolor high definition IP cameras installed onto steel posts five metres above ground level, equipped with Infrared illumination allowing visibility in poor lighting conditions, powered by means of a BFR solar kit, and a combination of Ubiquity and Mikrotik wireless terminals for data transmission to allow for viewing and recording locally on a Mirasys VMS at each respective property.

Each camera post will be equipped with a maximum of two HD IP cameras using solar power and wireless transmission equipment which communicate back to various wireless high-points within each property. The solar power solution allows a single post configuration of two cameras to function for a minimum of 36 hours under overcast weather conditions.

Why wireless and not a wired solution? Each security system can be derived from many different solutions whether wired or wireless, however main factors that were considered include the following:

Geological surrounds

• The project involves placing cameras in public areas where excavation of trenches will be difficult and very disruptive to traffic of local citizens. The solar powered and wireless solution eliminates the need for any excavations other than that for the erection of the camera post thus keeping disruption to the public at a bare minimum.

Existence of underground wire ways

• Should underground wire ways have been already in place, a wired solution would potentially prove to be more cost effective. Due to the lack of existing wire ways, implementation of new wire ways would far outweigh the costs involved with implementing a solar powered and wireless solution.

Implementation period

• Excavations through public areas require special permission and careful planning to minimise disruptions to the public. Not to mention the health and safety regulations that go with it. The time spent on planning alone would most likely exceed the time required to implement the entire solution using the solar powered and wireless solution approach.

Future expansion

• In wired solution terminology, expansion at the edge would require the availability of additional physical network ports. For a wired solution, one would use optical fibre as the underground communication medium towards network switches at the edge to collect the video from the cameras. The initial backbone network platform will be costly to implement while future expansions will become more cost-effective due to the availability of additional ports having been addressed during the initial solution.

• In wireless solution terminology, expansion at the edge would require careful calculations before implementation can occur. Wired solutions allow transmission speeds of up to 10 Gbps while most modern wireless network devices warrant speed of less than 500 Mbps. Expansion of wireless solutions would require sufficient bandwidth at both the source (edge) and receiver (high point) ends. Just because there’s bandwidth available at the edge does not indicate the same at the high-point since most high-points will be the reception point of connections from several edge devices. For this particular project several high-points have been considered allowing expansion of at least twice the number of devices at the edge without having to purchase additional high-point devices.

For the wireless network of this project, each camera post at the edge and high point at the core require an outdoor rated wireless access point designed for long range applications to establish wireless network communication. Ubiquity M5 Powerbeam devices have been selected as the edge devices while Mikrotik Groove Routerboard 52HPN equipped with 120 degree antenna for each high-point.

Security considerations

One of the biggest concerns for wireless users is making sure their wireless networks are secure. When it comes to technology, being 100 percent secure becomes a fabricated term. In reality data sent over a wireless signal are already potentially exposed creating the possibility of intercept if no security measures have been put in place. There are several ways to harden the security of your wireless network to prevent unauthorised access.

Change default passwords

• As almost anything is available on the Internet today, changing the default password of your devices will be the very first step.

Use WPA2 security

• WPA2 stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. The most recent Wireless Security Protocol responsible for encrypting data before it gets transmitted into open air.

Disable SSID broadcast

• Disabling the broadcast of the SSID makes your wireless network invisible to equipment capable of scanning for networks.

Implement MAC address filtering

• MAC address filtering allows you to create a list of all your devices on an access point blocking access to any other device with a different MAC address. A MAC address of a network device is unique to that device and no duplicate MAC may exist.

Assign static IP addresses and disable DHCP

• DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is responsible for allocating an available IP address to the requesting network device. Deactivating DHCP increases the difficulty of gaining access to your connected network devices.

Enable firewall

• Enable the firewall at your access point as well as your operating system and open only the ports required for your solution to further increase the difficulty of gaining access to your connected network devices.

As the need for long-range communications, roaming between multiple buildings or floors and the speed of wireless transmission increases, wireless network equipment become the more popular choice with other benefits including time of deployment, reduced cost of ownership and scalability.


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