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Anand Desai
Anand Desai
Anand Desai - Director Strategic Marketing, LAN Solutions Business, Micrel. Anand brings more than 20 years of marketing and sales experience to Micrel Inc. and he is responsible for strategic marketing in the LAN Solutions business unit including product definition, marketing and applications. … More »

The Move to Cloud-Enabled IP-Based Security Systems

July 2nd, 2014 by Anand Desai

Responding to customer demand and advances in technology, there is currently a strong trend among building security system manufacturers to evolve their products from traditional analog systems to IP-based products. Doing this allows them to leverage widespread innovation in IP-based communication systems through Cloud services. These new security systems are much more than just intruder alarms. They offer increased functionality, connectivity, and access options to take advantage of the capabilities of emerging technology. They provide a much richer set of features such as voice over IP (VoIP), call routing, rule-based response, and even allow access via mobile devices.

Security system use is widespread in residential, office buildings, hospitals, industrial facilities, and educational campuses. Current systems offer a wide range of functions such as access control, computer security, video surveillance, and public safety. These legacy systems involve multiple elements connected to a monitoring unit, which is managed from a control panel (see Figure 1). Generally, an analog phone line connects the monitoring unit to a remote monitoring station that responds to alarm conditions 24×7. Figure 1 shows a local area network (LAN) connected to the Internet; but the legacy analog security system is not connected to the LAN (and hence grayed out). Typical installation locations for today’s systems might include a single-family home, to many tens of units, such as in a multi-site industrial deployment.

Figure 1 An example of a Security System

Figure 1. Typical Security System

 Many customers want or need to leverage their investment in their existing security system. As a result, manufacturers are developing migration and upgrade paths that enable legacy analog systems to coexist with new IP-based ones.

Upgrade to a VoIP involves a quick migration path to an IP-based security system by simply connecting a local monitoring unit to a remote monitoring station using the Internet. In this approach, customers leverage their existing Internet connection rather than using an analog phone line, to connect the monitoring unit to an analog telephone adaptor (ATA) as shown in Figure 2.. Installation is seamless in many cases because most customers already have a connection to the Internet.

Figure 2 An example of Basic Upgrade VoIP Connection

Figure 2: Basic Analog System Upgrade to IP

For those customers seeking to remotely verify and control the status of their security system (in addition to simply receiving alarms and text messages) a more advanced upgrade to IP-based monitoring is needed. To achieve this, both the monitoring unit and customer control panel are upgraded to an IP-based system. As shown in Figure 3, an IP-based monitoring unit has been deployed and connected directly to the LAN. Legacy monitoring elements are simply connected to the Internet. The new IP-based control unit is connected to the customer’s existing LAN to allow the user to enjoy a full complement of IP-based security services. This is possible because the monitoring unit and control panel can now be accessed using the Internet, enabling a wider range of services.

Figure 3 An example of Advanced Upgrade IP-Based Monitoring

Figure 3: Advanced Upgrade: IP-based Monitoring

When there is no need to upgrade an existing system, for example with a new construction or if a customer desires a new system installed, a complete IP-based security system can be installed. The major advantage to installing IP-based security systems is that they offer a much richer set of features. In these deployments, VoIP, call routing, rule-based response, and access via mobile devices are expected functionality. Perhaps even more valuable, IP-based systems enable access to a number of emerging cloud-based services, which could include multi-modal communication (text, e-mail, Instant Messaging, voice communication), remote access control and remote control of the entire system (remote configuration and monitoring). Use of these services would allow customers to remotely configure and control the system, including system notifications, from any web browser or Internet enabled smartphone. In a fully IP-based system, all components are network-enabled. This includes the monitoring unit, control panel, access control, and all monitoring devices (see Figure 4).

Figure 4 An example of IP-based Security System
Figure 4: IP-based Security System and Monitoring Devices

IP-based security systems provide significant benefits in terms of new services, deployment efficiency, and operational efficiency. In terms of services, benefits include remote access and control via mobile or network devices, real time information such as status, alarms and alerts, as well as the emerging set of features that can be delivered by the cloud. At the same time, Internet standards simplify integration and these IP-based systems offer rapid scalability to a large number of sites and functionality. Finally, these new systems are more efficient to operate and operate at a substantially lower cost. They feature reduced power consumption by using EEE and other green standards, eliminate the recurring service costs of an analog telephone line and have fewer system elements to maintain and monitor..

Embedded components are used to bridge operating domains, such as analog-to-digital. Most often they are configured via a serial port or web-based interface and usually do not require a local interface. An analog telephone adaptor (ATA), which is used to connect analog phone systems to an IP network, is an example of this type of component. ATAs can have one or more “FXS” ports where the analog phone line is plugged in (instead of the phone jack), a network connection to connect to the Internet, and many also offer additional network connections to connect local devices for convenience (see Figure 5). Many units are built with a PoE option allowing the unit to be powered using a PoE-enabled Ethernet switch.

Figure 5 An example Analog Telephone Adaptor for an IP-based Security System

Figure 5: Example IP-based Security System Analog Telephone Adaptor (ATA)

Endpoint devices provide a rich user interface often including display, keypad, microphone, and speaker, all of which are connected to the network. Control panels, access control, and intercoms are all examples of endpoint devices.

Consider the example of a basic control panel for an IP-based security system shown in Figure 6. The panel has an LCD display, which indicates status and alarm conditions, a keypad, a microphone and a speaker, which are typically driven via VoIP communications. In a typical deployment, the back panel has one or more network interfaces to connect to a LAN. Other endpoints might include digital control of external devices, including sensors, cameras, access control mechanisms, zone access templates, door and window locks as well as other security devices, depending on the system complexity.

Figure 6 An example Control Panel for an IP-based Security System

Figure 6: Example IP-based Security System Control Panel

A more advanced example would be an intercom endpoint (see Figure 7). The form factors and functions are different than the control panel outlined above, but the basic architecture is largely the same, consisting of a display, keypad, microphone, speaker, and network connections. Installation of these endpoints is highly efficient, since they only need Cat 5 wiring with PoE and can be installed in electrical boxes.

Figure 7 An example Intercom for an IP-based Security System

Figure 7: Example IP-based Security System Intercom

So how do all of these components work together to achieve higher levels of functionality at lower costs? System-on-chips (SoCs), such as Micrel’s KSZ8342 and KSZ8382, provide complete solutions for integrating and managing all of the components of an IP-based security system. SoCs offer built-in support for all of the interfaces needed for these endpoint devices SoCs offer high reliability and compactness that has already been proven in commercial and industrial, applications around the globe, making them ideal for use in IP-based security systems.

Both of the Micrel SoC families mentioned above use a an embedded RISC CPU and a powerful DSP. This achieves a highly flexible VoIP platform that features HD voice processing.

Driven by rapidly accelerating customer demand for the connected home, innovation in IP-based communication systems is enabling adoption of IP-based security systems. Micrel SoCs deliver a complete solution for IP-based security systems. They can be used in all of the configurations discussed above, from upgrading legacy security systems, hybrid systems as well as fully digital systems. . The high level of integration in these SoCs encompasses a 3-Port switch, PHY, amplifiers, audio interfaces, and other interfaces. These SoCs feature built-in support for both t embedded and endpoints, which means only a few additional external devices are needed to create a fully-featured device. The firmware uses a modular architecture, to give developers many choices when developing application software. This allows the SoCs and the associated firmware to be adapted rapidly to enable a wide range of IP-based security solutions.

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