Eye on Video: Strategies for upgrading analog surveillance systems

How to use encoders to bring legacy technology into the world of networked video

Multi-stream capabilities. Some higher-end encoders have the ability to provide multi-stream encoding for each channel. For example, you can create two different compression and resolution streams for a single analog camera's transmission. One stream of a few frames per second could be sent for remote archiving while a full-frame-rate, high-resolution stream could be stored locally.

Other innovative features. A video encoder can provide video motion detection to all the attached cameras as well as camera tampering alarms, event management and integrated audio support. The technology also provides a foundation for more intelligent video features such as license plate recognition, people counting and other analytics.

Simplifying expansion of an installation
Introducing video encoders into an analog solution improves flexibility and scalability, as well as provides a logical and cost-effective migration path from legacy to IP-based video surveillance. The video encoders facilitate one of the more appealing features of an IP-based system: the straightforwardness of adding new cameras and moving them around.
Instead of running lengths of coaxial cable to a new location, an analog camera can be easily plug into a video encoder at the new installation site.

Since video recording and management in an IP-based solution are based on standardized computer hardware, businesses can choose best of breed from a multitude of competitive vendors whenever more storage is needed or parts of the infrastructure require upgrading.

The open standards platform provides other advantages as well. Video encoders employ universally accepted compression standards such as Motion JPEG, MPEG-4 or H.264, which consume less bandwidth and require less storage capacity for archiving. Not only do the standards avoid the dead-end-options created by proprietary technology such as digital video recorders (DVRs), they open up the surveillance system for integration with other technology such as building management and entry control systems as well as point-of-sale registers. This flexibility increases the value of the surveillance investment to the company's overall operational success.

Securing a future-proof solution
Migrating from analog video to IP-base surveillance can be fraught with challenges, especially in enterprise installations where companies are looking to protect their large investment in analog cameras. By introducing video encoders into an analog video surveillance configuration, security managers can maintain their legacy investment while acquiring a host of useful network-enabled features. This hybrid stepping stone towards an open IP-based video surveillance solution is virtually future-proof because it allows users to add network cameras to the system at their own pace while experiencing all the benefits of a networked operation along the way - including high-resolution video with progressive scan, megapixel and HDTV image quality.

About the author: Fredrik Nilsson is General Manager of the Americas for Axis Communications and author of the book Intelligent Network Video. He is a regular expert contributor on topics of networked video surveillance systems and cameras.