Welcome To SIP, Video Surveillance

Video surveillance is one of those huge markets where standards aren't used enough. Though I am not an expert in video surveillance, I have been on the edges of this market and its requirements in the past several years.

During this time, I have seen only two types of surveillance systems:

  1. The closed proprietary ones, where everything is done with some obscure protocol.
  2. The hybrid ones, where camera links use proprietary protocols, but some gateway along the way is capable of converting it to a standard protocol.

The standard protocol of choice in this industry is RTSP - Real Time Streaming Protocol. It is basically a protocol defining a kind of a set-top box remote control, where you can "select a channel", "play" it and do some other tricks.

There are some who regard SIP as a better solution for RTSP (and I am among them). Grandstream just announced a set of SIP based H.264 IP video surveillance products.

In a nutshell, the Grandstream solution has surveillance cameras that use SIP signaling to stream video from the camera to a monitoring system somewhere. They also use bi-directional audio, so the security guys can shout at perpetrators, if and when they see them.

As our lives get more digitized (and more complex), I believe everything needs to become interactive and multi-directional. RTSP, as a single direction media protocol just isn't the right choice anymore for surveillance. It's good to see that the industry is heading towards SIP on this one.

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