The Roadmap to IP Video

The security surveillance market is changing. A system that simply solves today’s problems is not enough. Integrators need to make choices that provide customers an upgrade path that is forward-compatible with IP architecture.

It’s true. Analog video systems are still used in more than 85 percent of all applications. That’s today. However, it’s clear that IP/digital video is the path the industry is following — and the course security integrators need to plot to assure future success.

It has now come to the point where many vertical markets, including education, law enforcement, transportation, water treatment and new construction, will specify only an IP/digital video system. They want better identification that only IP video, especially megapixel systems, provides; the ability to better validate whom they are seeing with an increased clarity of image.

In addition, IP video also provides such users with easier monitoring to help prevent incidents and enhanced recording tools that quickly identify perpetrators after an incident. With this changing market in mind, integrators must be as much a consultant as a product provider. They need to know the technology and customer well enough to properly direct them on their migration toward IP.

Analyzing Cost Trade-Offs

Overall costs, both in terms of infrastructure and the IP products themselves, will typically be higher than those of analog systems. In addition, the level of technical expertise required by the installer to implement IP video systems can also affect the overall budget.

To guide you on which to choose, recent studies have shown the “breakeven” point of implementing an IP system vs. an analog system is around 32 cameras. When customers will take full advantage of remote viewing, video management and operational capabilities, IP video becomes especially suited for systems larger than 40 cameras.

Whether you decide to make your breakeven point 32 or 40 cameras, you will find that the lower cost of Cat-5e cable and reduced labor expense typically offset the initial higher product expenditure. There are also additional intangible cost savings realized when administering an IP video system that you do not get with analog. And remember, like any system, the customer will be adding more and more applications to the solution.

Planning for Future Conversion

Integrators want to be sure their system choices provide an upgrade path that is forward-compatible with a future of fully digital IP architecture. Many users will demand this but there is one thing they will not want to do. That’s discarding their perfectly good, presently installed analog equipment.

To maximize your customer’s technology choices at the camera, the transmission system and the head-end, you can provide products that “connect the dots” between your customer’s installed analog and digital equipment and between security- and IT-based systems.

Start by adopting unshielded twisted-pair cabling (UTP) as the transmission medium. Fortunately, there is a way to implement a cost-effective hybrid UTP system that gives customers the product choices they need, supports today’s already installed analog systems and provides the IP-ready cabling infrastructure to eventually switch over to digital.

For users who want to implement a digital-ready structured cabling system that can handle a wide variety of existing analog products, there are Power-Video-Data (PVD) solutions that support cameras with a single four-pair Cat-5e cable. With it, the system can deliver a high-quality picture via the same infrastructure used by your customers’ Ethernet datacom systems. In fact, most facilities already have UTP cable for their phones and datacom needs.

There is also a full range of UTP EIA 568B-compliant CCTV transmission products featuring RJ-45 connectivity. PVD products now let integrators standardize their structured cabling in accordance with EIA 568B wiring protocols, reduce installation time and fully prepare the plant wiring for future digital systems when desired. 


When IP Doesn’t Mean All Digital

Using a DVR is a “middle-of-the-road” technique that can be used to upgrade to IP video surveillance. Beware, however; while a DVR system is a step toward the more advanced IP technology, it is not a fully IP-based product. 

To explain, a DVR system uses the same camera and structures for cabling as the original analog systems but replaces the old VCRs and multiplexers previously used for storage of the data. The data is converted to digital so that it can be stored on hard disks, but the quality of the images captured remains analog since this is how it originated.

In such applications, the integrator must be very aware of prospective image degradation. That’s because analog and digital use different video display methods. The signal coming from the analog cameras is interlaced, while digital monitors and DVRs require progressive scan.

With interlaced, the lines that make up the picture on the analog monitor are drawn in an alternating fashion. In the United States, the even lines appear first on the screen, then the odd lines. During interlace display scanning the screen is refreshed in two top-to-bottom passes so that the lines scanned in one pass are positioned between the lines drawn in the previous pass.

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