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Network Video Recorders Save the Day… and Night

Airports large, small and in-between face unique security challenges, as they guard against threats that can arrive from both land and air.

Surveillance recording solutions increasingly use IP networks

Panasonic WJ-NV200 Airports large, small and in-between face unique security challenges, as they guard against threats that can arrive from both land and air.

There are almost always diverse and fast-paced activities at airports that require very specific types of attention, as well as rules and regulations that must be observed. Cameras are the obvious addition to support security and airport police forces, so naturally network video recorders (NVR) play a vital role.

An important element of an NVR is a software program that records video in a digital format to a disk drive, USB flash drive, SD memory card or other mass storage device. However, the software is usually run on a dedicated device through an onboard operating system.

Today, NVRs are increasingly part of an IP video surveillance system, where networks built from standard IP gear (routers and Cat-5/6 cabling) used in just about any traditional IP network. The NVR is distinct from a digital video recorder (DVR) because its input is from a network rather than a direct connection to a video capture card or tuner. There are hybrid NVR/DVR systems that incorporate functions of both the NVR and DVR.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the primary airfield serving the greater Los Angeles area, the second-most populated metropolitan area in the U.S. LAX is currently installing new security cameras on a daily basis, according to Fernando Castro, captain with the Los Angeles Police Information and Intelligence Center. There are about 1,300 cameras now in service at LAX, and that number is expected to climb to 3,000.

LAX serves 60 million passengers a year, with as many as 100,000 passing through out every day. This amounts to a lot of information that needs to be gathered and recorded.

Pelco NSM5200 NVR “We have it all stored on computers and a facility off-site,” Castro said.” Down the line, we are going to have to increase storage space.”

In contrast, surveys of regional airports around the U.S. find that many have a handful of cameras installed at airport gates and none at all in other airport locations. Some have only live cameras and no record capability, while others record on a mix of disk systems and obsolete video cassettes. Lack of modern surveillance video systems and recording is generally a function of budgetary constraints.


In deciding what system to procure or even whether a security system is necessary, experts say airport authorities should, among other things, inventory all current security measures. Management should decide whether cameras are needed at all entrances and exits, whether they are necessary in baggage claim areas, and whether to situate cameras in check-in areas to capture passenger images and personnel activity. Plans to protect planes and equipment should be reviewed, as well as the accessibility and vulnerability of restricted areas.

Cameras should likely monitor security checkpoints for congestion, suspicious activity and confrontations. Individual terminals and gates should be studied as well as corridors and transportation between terminals. Once this assessment is made, cameras, NVRs and associated equipment can be chosen to fulfill the airport’s needs.

As far as the products themselves, there are units and systems to meet the surveillance storage and management needs of any airport, large or small.

JVC VRX1600U NVR The Pelco Endura NSM5200 series is designed to combine high-performance, scalable hardware and advanced software capabilities. It features 250 Mbps recording throughput for real-time video, audio and data applications.

Pelco’s hardware design eliminates single points of failure, and features redundant fans, power supplies and RAID 6 storage. Pooled storage management provides automatic distributed load-balancing and N+N failover across a storage pool to ensure continued recording if a catastrophic failure occurs.

The Endura NSM5200 uses built-in EnduraStor storage management to “groom” video from Pelco video encoders and IP cameras based on age and priority. The NSM5200 is capable of up to 32 simultaneous video/audio playback streams, and it has built-in diagnostic monitoring to provide preventive maintenance and simple network management protocol (SNMP) monitoring.

The Endura NSM5200’s storage capacity is scalable using third-party storage arrays with an optional Fibre Channel interface. Pelco claims that the Endura NSM5200 has improved energy efficiency compared to competing product due to the system’s consolidation of multiple hardware components into an integrated chassis.


Panasonic’s WJ-NV200 i-Pro SmartHD network disk recorder supports full HD output.

“This NVR showcases a collection of intelligent features to offer a smarter security solution,” said Dave Poulin, Panasonic’s director of vertical markets for physical security and mobile video.

It uses H.264, MPEG-4 and JPEG formats, and can simultaneously display live images from up to 16 cameras. This network disk recorder is fully compatible with Pansonic’s i-Pro SmartHD network cameras.

The WJ-NV200 i-Pro SmartHD supports high-definition output for display of recorded and live images, while offering the option to record to an SD card. This enables easy and fast transfer of footage to laptops or other storage/distribution systems.

“SD recording is a failsafe in case of network issues,” Poulin said.

JVC’s new VR-X3200U network video recorder is based on the Milestone XProtect Enterprise and Windows Embedded OS for a user-friendly interface. It offers enterprise-level HD recording and viewing for an unlimited number of NVRs, cameras, sites and users.

More than 1,000 different camera/encoder models can be supported by installing the latest Milestone device driver pack. A broad range of software add-ons and third-party integrations, as well as a fully documented software development kit, are also available.

JVC sweetens the deal for the VR-X3200U NVR by offering free non-expiring licenses for the company’s CMOS-based SuperLoLuxHD security cameras. With this combination, there are no recurring license fees for full access to the camera’s features, such as active tampering detection and built-in video analytic features.

The JVC VR-X3200U supports exported data and the system can be password protected. The recorder comes with a 1 terabyte (TB) drive preinstalled, with three expansion slots for additional storage up to 4 TB.


“A system must be robust and user friendly so that operators can see relevant information and the display does not fatigue them,” according to a report prepared by Ann Barry and David Mazel of Technology Service Corporation of Silver Spring, Md.

“The interface must be intuitive and respond to real-time data,” the report added.

Airports are more than terminals and taxi stands. Out there where the planes land, there are acres— and in some cases square miles—of terrain that need to be observed and secured.

Some airports abut forests, while others are on shores of a river, lake or ocean. Providing camera coverage and security for these areas is difficult, especially in harsh environments that often surround airports.

The Moxa MxNVR-IA8-T network video recorder is designed to be installed inside NEMA-rated cabinets at remote locations around an airport’s perimeter.

“It is meant for harsh conditions,” said Joe Cook, Moxa America’s business development manager. “It is the more popular unit in the series, with wide operating temperatures of –40 to 75 degrees Celsius without needing a heater or blower.”

The MxNVR-IA8-T has dual 2.5-inch HDD bays, supports H.264, MPEG4 and MJPEG video recording, and can record up to eight IP video streams from Moxa cameras. The unit is only 1 RU high.


The entry-level one-terabyte Toshiba Surveillix ESV4 NVR has a 1080p HDMI output for local viewing, and supports four-megapixel IP cameras. It connects to legacy analog video systems and does not require to be connected to digital cameras. The ESV4 includes free video management system software (VMS) and is Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) compliant.

Toshiba also has Surveillix NVR software that will run on standard Windows PCs. Such a PC-based system can record up to 64 IP cameras per PC, as well as control pan/tilt and other parameters for more than 150 models of IP cameras.

Toshiba Surveillix ESV4 NVR If you need to design a video surveillance system from scratch, a recent report from surveillance consultants Barry and Mazel said that you could spend years writing requirements, designing the subsystems, writing software, testing hardware, integrating the pieces and hoping the final system works.

“This approach is time-consuming, expensive and will often lead to a system that is obsolete by the time it is completed,” the report said.

A better approach, the report concluded, is to build a system, test it, deploy it and add systems over time.

“It allows the system to evolve over a short time, but in a way that uses the latest technology and improves past limitations,” the report concluded.

One thing that seems to be common with network video recorders and associated components is that they all work on standard IP networks, familiar to any IT expert. If you have the right network capability at the correct places, installing NVRs and cameras is a much more manageable task.