POE technology

Introduction

April 19, 2019

We illustrate the benefits of POE technology as far as campus security is concerned

Power Over Ethernet, POE/ POE ++, is a technology that enables devices to receive electrical power over a standard Ethernet cable. Ethernet is a technology that has evolved over the last few decades and is pervasive in almost every office, small and large businesses and is used to network servers, storage that provide the end user a critical service as far as their business operations are concerned. In parallel, over the last decade or so, many companies are manufacturing devices that use the Internet Protocol as a means of communication. This allows for many disparate devices to communicate with each other using the IP protocol and all of them today use the ethernet cable. This makes sense because the price point of ethernet technology has dramatically dropped over a period of time. This price drop is seen across all technology spectrums such as: network switches, NAS storage, fire alarms, access control systems, BIO ID systems, Surveillance cameras, Video Management Software and innumerable other technologies that have all come to benefit from the ubiquitous IP protocol and Ethernet L2 routing protocols

One can now imagine all the possibilities of building a single unified secure system with very different devices all networked together but unified by a single software platform. However, there is a caveat in all of this. Most of the devices are located in different parts of the infrastructure and they all need electrical power to run and function reliably. As they all use the ethernet cable to communicate, including electrical power within the connecting ethernet cable, eliminates the need for a power supply at each terminating device. This results in cost savings; every manufacturer of the devices has to ascertain that they are POE compliant which results in half the number of cables being used to network plus has the added advantage of a 100-meter run between the device and the nearest network switch

In summary POE/ POE ++ is a simplifying and unifying technology which allows system integrators to build custom solutions as per customer requirements without having to worry about different power supplies with different power ratings for each device

Here is a link for interested readers that describes POE in great detail: https://www.versatek.com/what-is-power-over-ethernet/

There are several POE products available in the market which can be easily searched. Once the requirements of the customer are known one can make a choice of vendor and budgetary limitations to put together an appropriate solution

We will illustrate these various points using campus security as an example in the following paragraphs

Basic Campus Security Requirements and the driving forces behind them

  1. 24/ 7 school/ college curriculums are forcing authorities to revisit campus security requirements
  2. Increase in on campus crime rates due to various factors
  3. Different and unique requirements for different departments within the same campus
  4. Managing policies across multiple infrastructures is increasingly complex
  5. Troubleshooting is extremely tedious and time consuming if a unifying system integration plan is not put into place at the very beginning of the project
  6. Ongoing daily maintenance and upkeep of devices and network infrastructure

Other Essential Campus considerations

  1. Centralized Cloud based management. This becomes important when one has to manage several campuses at the same time
  2. Security. This becomes critical when all campuses are tied together through the cloud as a single security breach can wormhole itself to all campuses
  3. POE devices that act as a unifying technology at the base level of the security architecture
  4. Multigigabit backbones for future easy expansion as the campus and infrastructure size increases
  5. MAC level communication encryption between all switches and compute/ storage devices in the network infrastructure

Challenges and approaches to a viable Campus Security Solution

  1. Make a detailed plan as per infrastructure/ campus requirements
  2. Make the plan fit into the budgetary limitations. This will be the biggest challenge as some compromises will have to be made
  3. Selection of network vendor, access control and other peripheral device vendors and finally the software that unifies all these diverse components
  4. A network vendor provides you with a Network OS responsible for the security and management of the various network components. A Video Management System or VMS provides the other backbone software around which all other POE driven devices are connected to. This becomes very critical as the VMS can be looked upon as the other OS which acts as a unifying piece of software. Together the “network OS” and the “VMS OS” constitute the bulk of the software with a communication channel between them
  5. The VMS software must be enterprise class with built in Video Analytics plus it must have the ability to connect to all the peripheral access devices through an Application Programming Interface or API and Software Development Kits or SDKs
  6. The VMS software must have the ability to support several types of IP cameras as well as provide an easy and quick path to integration for all other Peripheral Access Devices

A Network Diagram Illustration of the various components that constitute a Campus Security solution

The above diagram shows the many components that go into building a security solution. This is more from a hardware perspective and shows a typical layout. A key point to note is the FIREWALL and the WAN connection to outside the campus. This WAN connection could be to other campuses or to the cloud that connects to other campuses or to both. Special attention needs to be paid to this particular component of the system. Several security techniques are available out in the market to make this point of the network achieve the highest possible security breach block

Another view of the network but more from a layout and human perspective

An Example of the VMS Software which acts as the other OS in addition to the network OS

The illustration above is to depict the critical role the VMS Software plays in any security system. It is the key backbone software that talks to all the other Peripheral Access Systems Software. In the above example we have shown Automatic License Plate Recognition along with Under Vehicle Surveillance System at the key entry points into a campus. The VMS in the above case also integrates an existing Visitor Management System but now enhances it with video and Facial Recognition. The campus shown is connected through the cloud to other campuses. The cloud component allows remote management, control and has access to machine learning and artificial intelligence and machine learning components of Azure/ WATSON. Any Cloud service could be used in implementing a custom solution to the growing needs of campuses as the technology is available today

Summary

In this short article we have tried to illustrate how we can implement campus security. POE technology plays a key role in connecting all the devices because of its’ ability to carry electrical power over great distances. POE repeaters can be used to extend beyond 100 meters. POE is a game changer as far as reducing the overall installation and cabling costs are concerned. The diagrams used for illustration in this brief article are used to highlight the 4 key components and their relationship with each other: (1) Network Hardware and Software (2) Compute/ Storage Hardware and Software (3) The VMS Software (the other OS) that plays a key role in integrating all the Peripheral Access Devices and finally (4) The importance of Cloud Connectivity for overall ease in control and management of the various sites/ campuses

PGM Security Group INTL