Convergence Channel: To IP or Not to IP; That Is the Question
Offering high definition video surveillance requires weighing customer needs and expectations against the inherent strengths and weaknesses of either an IP- or HDcctv-based solution. The business implications of these decisions are just as critical as the technology choice.
SSI is pleased to welcome security industry veteran and convergence specialist Paul Boucherle to its lineup of columnists. His “Convergence Channel” contributions will augment those of Steve Payne.
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous … technology claims. My apologies to William Shakespeare; however, it sets the stage, excuse the pun, for a different perspective on the argument between selecting IP video or HDcctv technology for your customer’s security video needs.
What is the right migration path to recommend? There sure is a lot of marketing noise out there. Will you pass the “red face” test a year after your recommended solution becomes fully implemented? After all, it is your reputation we are talking about. Be careful how you position yourself.
Technology was much easier when the most difficult decisions were which camera manufacturer, what camera type, lens and how many tapes were needed for your library archive. Storage came in boxes of 24 VHS tapes – simple. Not today. We have gone from simplicity to very complex in a span of just eight years. Not only do we have to speak a new language, but there are new standards for interoperability with networks. What the heck are those?
Speaking of interoperability and obsolescence, the rhetoric has really been heating up between the IP and HDcctv camps about what the market will be in the future. I will readily cop to the fact I am an early curve technology junkie. Can’t help it; it’s a “recovering technology application engineer disease.”
Therefore, I shall attempt to simplify a contentious and complex subject by viewing video technology from a different perspective; a more rational business perspective. Security is a business, your business, and it impacts your customers’ business in positive ways if you do your work thoughtfully.
Evaluating Video’s Intended Use
Video quality is, of course, the end game when designing solutions for your customers. It’s also the factor that ends up being the most subjective.
Let’s address two key questions. First, is there a high enough quantity of high quality video data to complete an investigation that would stand up in court, should it come to that? Secondly is there enough quantity of high quality video available to support business or operational processes? If you fall short answering these questions someone is going to be disappointed with the final outcome.
Either an IP or HDcctv technology choice can deliver high quality video images to satisfy the first question. The second question will depend on who wants to use the video and where they will use it. If it is a centralized control room, either solution works. If they need to view the video feeds from many places, IP may have the edge.
So when is good enough good enough? When you consider/compare incremental quality increases vs. additional implementation and operating costs over a three- to five-year timeframe.
Rendering the optimal solution means still more questions need to be addressed. What does the function, size, condition and ownership of the facility look like with your customer? If you plan to deliver value to your customer, these conditions must be considered in designing security video solutions from both a business and technology perspective.
You may want to start with some questions about a facility before you force-fit your favorite video product into a no-win situation. By the way, guess who will get the majority of the blame if the system doesn’t meet your customer’s expectations? And when you ask the right questions, you will not be chasing your competitors and projects on a price basis.
‘Sell Low’ Is Given New Meaning
As a pneumonic device for remembering important considerations, here’s an acronym that should also be your antonym: SELL LOW. Here’s how it works:
Stay or leave — How long is your prospect/customer going to stay in the facility for which you are designing the system? If it is short-term (three-five years), using existing coaxial infrastructure and HDcctv is an economic and smart business choice. If it is five years or longer, balance IP against HDcctv. Remember to ask the customer how smart they want their video system to be?
Expanding or contracting the business — Is the customer growing their business; will they be expanding at the existing site or looking for a new one? You don’t want to invest in an expensive network infrastructure if you are not planning to stay for a while. Just asking this question will reposition the customer’s perception of who you are and how you work. That will be important later.
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