IP Video Builds on What You Know

Contrary to what might be perceived by all of the articles in security magazines, exhibitions at trade shows and talk within the security industry, less than 15 percent of video surveillance applications involve IP/digital video.

The reasons analog video still rules the market are obvious to those who work with different types of companies wanting to strengthen safety and security. First and foremost, there are many analog video systems installed that run on coax and, in many cases, their users are simply upgrading components. In other instances, security managers are leery of moving beyond what they already understand and currently works for them.

Many resellers, including dealers and integrators, are also uncomfortable with IP/digital surveillance. They see connectivity as a big issue. Plus, IP/digital video has some new vocabulary that needs explaining. Hopefully, this article can provide a kind of portal into IP/digital video. It all begins with a basic understanding of what comprises a computer-based network.

Cat-5e Provides Infrastructure

An IP camera has its own IP address and built-in computing functions to handle network communication. It is best described as a combination camera/computer that connects to the network exactly like any other node. For the most part, that means you can forget the intricacies of most of our glossary’s definitions. You just need some training on how to piece them together.

The good news is that any major IP video provider will help you to do so. From training manuals, both print and electronic, to actual “hands-on,” “in-the-field” support, your IP video manufacturer should be there to guide you. Once you’ve done a couple of installations with the manufacturer’s help, you’ll be just as capable of configuring an IP/digital system as you are connecting a traditional analog CCTV system.

More good news is that almost all new construction projects include the laying of Cat-5e cabling, a desirable infrastructure for IP/digital systems of any and all types, including video. True IP-based digital surveillance includes cameras that use signal processing to send video streams over the LAN through a Cat-5e cable rather than a coax cable network. This provides greater bandwidth and standard TCP/IP communication.

With IP/digital-based video on Cat-5e, a user can connect surveillance cameras to any network or wireless adapter, being extremely flexible in their placement of the camera itself. Once Cat-5e cable is available, the rest becomes easy. To make your IP/digital video selling life easier, begin looking for and asking if your prospect has Cat-5e cable installed.

Hold Onto That Analog Equipment

Integrators and end users want to be sure their system choices provide an upgrade path that is forward-compatible with a future of fully digital IP/digital architecture, without throwing out perfectly good analog equipment. To maximize the customer’s technology choices at the camera, the transmission system and the head-end, leading video systems suppliers are providing products that “connect the dots” between installed analog and digital equipment.

Leveraging UTP Cabling — Joining analog equipment to the digital future is facilitated by the adoption of unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable as the transmission medium. In fact, most facilities already have UTP cable for their phones and datacom needs. If the customer has it, use it because there is a way to implement a cost-effective hybrid UTP system that gives customers the product choices they need. A UTP-based hybrid solution supports today’s cost-effective analog systems while providing the IP-ready cabling infrastructure when a switchover does occur.

For integrators that want to implement a digital-ready structured cabling system that easily supports a wide variety of existing analog products, a power-video-data (PVD) solution supports cameras. Integrators can deliver a high quality picture over the same infrastructure used by Ethernet datacom systems.

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. The PVD solution provides a convenient, cost-conscious and future-proofed way to connect power, video and data from the camera to the control room.

Leveraging DVRs — The “middle of the road” of video surveillance is upgrading video by utilizing a DVR. A DVR system is not really fully IP-based, but is a step toward the more advanced IP technology. In actuality, a DVR system uses the same camera and structures for cabling as the older CCTV analog systems, but the old VCRs and multiplexers have been replaced with a DVR for storage of the data. The data is converted to digital so it can be stored on hard disks, but the quality of the images captured remains analog since this is how it originated.

In other words, analog signals are fed from the cameras to the DVR where they are converted into digital signals for storage and/or transmission over digital networks.

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