IP-based physical security solutions were a much tougher sell five years ago than they are today. As the quality of IP products and networks have continued to progress, more and more customers are seeing the benefits of IP solutions in access control, burglar alarms, video surveillance and more. These benefits range from improved functionality to increased cost-efficiency as well as the ability to smoothly scale a project incrementally up or down in size.
Misconceptions and a general lack of education further muddies the picture as security dealers try to decipher what role IP networks are playing now and into the future. For dealers who are still on the fence about offering total network-based security solutions, here's a look at some of the current misconceptions about IP, some realistic limitations, and how to start becoming more educated about the topic.
Tackling the Misconceptions
Regarding IP-based security solutions, some of the biggest misconceptions are that they are more expensive than traditional solutions, highly difficult to learn, and suffer from poor performance due to network bandwidth issues. While all three of these accusations might have been based in part on truth five years ago, this is simply not the case today.
When asked to give some common misconceptions about IP networks, Peter DeAngelis, president and CEO, IQinVision, states, “They are difficult to learn, manage, and maintain.” He then explains, “Now my argument would be that they are different to learn, manage, and maintain, but not necessarily more difficult.”
Keith Ridings, national sales manager, Panasonic Security Systems, says something similar. “The biggest misconception would have to be that IP networks are complex to install and maintain. On the contrary, not only are the systems easy and convenient to install, there is a wealth of support available with programs such as P-Tech, Panasonic Security Training University , to help dealers learn the ropes.”
Speaking with regard to IP video surveillance systems, Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, Axis Communications, says that many people are surprised that an IP system can cost less to install. “A couple years ago when IP was newer and costs were higher, that was a limitation, and that was also one of the obstacles for people moving into the technology,” he continues.
But as the technology has improved, and not only on the network camera side, but even more so on the networking side of the storage side, cost today is lower if you look at a system beyond 40 cameras, Nilsson says. He goes on to admit, however, that IP cameras individually are more expensive than analog cameras, but the total network cost must also figure cabling, storage, and monitoring. “These factors can result in a lower total cost per channel, which at the end of the day is the only thing that's really interesting,” adds Nilsson.
“By moving to a pure IP-based solution, you get to leverage the existing IT infrastructure,” says Thomas Heiser, vice president, Networked Access Solutions, HID Global, who also notes that people tend to be surprised when they learn that enough power can be run through a Cat 5/6 cable to handle most types of interior locks sets.
“The IT department has already invested in storage, switches, and Power over Ethernet hardware,,” Heiser comments, “so it makes sense to leverage this investment rather than have the security department buy the same hardware only to be used for the access control system. Cost savings can also be realized in the installation. Traditional access control systems used closed wiring and fixed purpose cabling. Going to IP-based systems means you use traditional IT wiring; the same Cat 5/6 that is used everywhere else, can now be used for the access control systems as well.”