USPS to deploy IPv6-capable video surveillance

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plans to deploy an IPv6-capable video surveillance system to 40,000 postal sites across the country. In addition to providing high-quality video, the system is expected to provide the USPS with enhanced mobility, security and network management capabilities. The new video platform will be integrated into the existing USPS network.

Video surveillance is critical for USPS to prevent and investigate burglaries and other security incidents that occur inside and around USPS facilities. An IP-based system offers features unavailable in traditional closed circuit television (CCTV) systems, such as the ability to view live video from remote locations through an Internet connection.

An IP-based system also will provide the USPS with better abilities to centralize video surveillance and security operations. Unlike an analog CCTV system, a digital IP-based system provides an easier means to store video footage for later search and retrieval during an incident investigation.

The system will consist of IPv6-capable network hardware, video security cameras and digital encoders that translate the video to MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 digital frames suitable for transport over IP. The encoders can interoperate with the existing analog cameras, negating the need to replace them.

The project is being coordinated through the Joint Mission Support Center (JMSC), as well as the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. OIG is an independent entity dedicated to the USPS, while the Inspection Service is a division of the USPS responsible to 'secure the nation's mail systems' and investigate incidents involving the postal system, including the physical security of the facilities.

Part of USPS' goals for mandating that the video system be IPv6-capable was to comply with the US federal government's encouragement to migrate to IPv6-based networking.

'The USPS isn't required to comply with the IPv6 mandate,' said Dan Mihalko, spokesperson for OIG and JMSC, 'but has voluntarily chosen to comply. So, IPv6 needed to be in the RFP for this video system.'

The Postal Service sees value in IPv6 beyond just its expanded address space. It is fairly well-known that USPS is one of the original legacy 'owners' of IPv4 address space, having acquired the entire 56.0.0.0 /8 block before strict allocation procedures were adopted to avert address depletion. This original 'Class A' allocation provides over 16 million IPv4 addresses, far more than most other commercial entities can acquire today.

But because of the large number of USPS locations, their growing reliance on mobile devices and the increasing need for network-capable devices such as video cameras, postage meters and mail scanners, USPS expects IPv6 to be a gateway to enhancing its services and capabilities. Several of IPv6's capabilities, such as built-in quality of service and multicast, are tailored to supporting real-time applications such as video.

About the Author

Dan Campbell is a freelance writer with Government Computer News and the president of Millennia Systems Inc.

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