Jumping from analog to IP

How can integrators help their customers take the leap from analog to IP/digital video systems? Customers want to jump to IP surveillance but in a cost-managed way that extends the life of existing analog equipment. For most sites, this migration will take place gradually and, during the process, analog and IP solutions will have to coexist, in some cases, for many years to come.

A key consideration for security professionals is whether or not the existing cameras or new IP ones will provide the image quality needed to achieve the functional requirements of the system. Different applications have different requirements; some customers require the ability to see and track suspects in changing lighting conditions while others simply need to see that a corridor is clear. In many migration plans, specific locations of greater vulnerability or image detail requirements are ideal places for IP-based cameras, including megapixel and high definition models. An integrator needs to ask if higher resolution cameras can help at each location.

A typical approach to migration is to use analog-to-digital encoders at the camera end to transform images from an analog camera to a digital signal for transmission and storage. The downside is that the existing analog control room equipment gets scrapped, often before it has fulfilled its useful life, because the new IP video management software (VMS) controls the already-installed analog cameras.

A coexistence approach holds down the budget at the beginning. The existing analog equipment, including cameras, control room, video wall and cabling remains untouched. In this solution the VMS, integrated with the present operators' keyboards, sits on top of the system to manage the new IP equipment and the already-installed analog system.

--Mark S. Wilson, vice president of Marketing, Infinova, Monmouth Junction, N.J.