Should Governments Use a Core LAN or uLAN?
At first thought, agencies might consider adding new security and surveillance devices to their existing core IT networks. But with recent trends toward the convergence of both physical attacks and cyberattacks on facilities, it can be wise to prevent holes in one network from affecting the other.
An alternative option that may be right for many agencies is the implementation of a utility LAN, or uLAN. Currently, uLANs are emerging as a new way to connect and power smart buildings and advanced security and surveillance technologies separately from the existing core network.
Utility LANs are managed Ethernet networks designed for nontraditional Ethernet-enabled Internet of Things or machine-to-machine devices. Also, uLANs can use similar network switches, cloud connectivity, network security methods and cabling, and be easily managed by groups other than IT.
The systems they are connecting can be set up to communicate with each other without the IT manager learning all of the individual system intricacies or worrying about those systems affecting core network performance and security. The uLAN is a network concept that state and local government agencies can use to support the expanding range of security devices — from security cameras and automatic door locks to motion sensors and smart LED lighting — that need to be connected to the network.
How State and Local Agencies Can Leverage the uLAN
Making the decision to connect security and surveillance devices to a uLAN or a core LAN comes down to data security, support for Power over Ethernet (PoE) and specialized network management.
On one hand, a traditional core LAN might already be deployed and may have unused switch ports that are available to support the abundance of new devices. For an existing installation, this option might seem the easiest and most cost-effective alternative.
But the core network must support growing network capacity needs in a way that doesn’t interfere with the existing applications, including servers, phones and end-user PCs. Video streams of one or two megabits per second will increase to 10Mbps or greater as high-resolution cameras are added.
This may not seem like a lot for networks operating at gigabit-per-second speeds, but facilities can have dozens of cameras, which can drive up bandwidth requirements quickly. And with the trend toward other building systems moving to IP and increased collection and storage, the impact on the network can grow significantly. The uLAN can be built to support these bandwidth levels and eliminate the burden on the core LAN.