Researchers: IP video less expensive than analog for mid-size systems

A new whitepaper from Axis Communications says that mid-sized IP systems are more affordable than a comparable analog camera/DVR system. The whitepaper was based upon research conducted by the Lund University (Sweden) Lusax research group, a research organization initiated with the help of Axis, Niscayah and Assa Abloy.

The whitepaper sought to analyze the costs of a "greenfield" security camera and recording device installation at a conceptual retail establishment. According to the whitepaper, the research focused around asking U.S.-based security integrators to bid the same project based on an IP video installation and an analog/DVR configuration. The five integrators who responded to the system cost study were said to have been selected because they actively sold and installed both IP and analog systems.

The researchers specified comparable cameras and recording (H.264), and detailed cable lengths, camera positions, frame rates and storage periods to ensure a level playing field for the bids. Three formats of the system were specified: a 14, 25 and 40-camera installation. Those camera numbers were not without thought. "In order to provide an unbiased comparison, the number of cameras in each alternative was selected to avoid the known 'sweet spots' of analog systems -- 16, 32 and 48 cameras -- and IP-based solutions -- 17, 33 and 49 cameras -- respectively," wrote Axis in the whitepaper.

What Lusax reported was that for all of the conceptual scenarios, the IP video surveillance system cost less than the analog system. According to the whitepaper, "For 14, 25 and 40 cameras, the IP solution is on average 11%, 13% and 16% lower cost than the analog system, respectively."

The whitepaper noted that IP camera costs were more than the cost of comparable analog cameras. IP cameras represented between 38 and 51 percent of the total IP system cost versus 23 to 27 percent of the total analog system cost. Despite the higher cost of cameras (each IP camera cost on average 50 percent more than the analog camera), the researchers said the savings came in the cost of storage. The research was based upon a software-and-server model for IP video, not an NVR-based model for recording IP cameras.

For more information, view the full whitepaper "Total cost comparison study of analog and IP-based video surveillance" (PDF download). A previous research project, conducted in 2007, had found that a 32-camera system was the break-even point between the cost of an analog and an IP system.