Hybrid video: The next evolution in convergence

Surveillance sitting in an analog world - hybrid solutions take it the next step in integration


“The power of the installed base of analog and CCTV cameras is something people don’t think of,” Anderson commented. “You’ve got all these analog cameras and DVRs out there, and a good deal of the installer community isn’t yet comfortable with IP, so in many instances they will just stay with analog and even install more of those products. But the real question they have to ask is: if the site has analog, why do they need IP?” he queried. “What do they want to accomplish with the camera?”
Anderson admitted “the move to IP in a mixed system is not painless. You can take a DVR that’s analog only and buy a hybrid recorder that converts an analog system. You can buy an NVR and put it next to the DVR, or you can buy software and put it on a PC and use an encoder. But you have other factors, such as that most hybrid DVR recorders are limited to CIF or resolution which is probably not a good resolution for positive identification.”

As such, the strategy more companies are moving to, he said, is IP-based software with encoders that talk to the old DVRs and NVRs. “Those old DVRs are really big encoders. You can save the end-user’s investment and move forward to another year’s budget, “he said.

Infinova is another manufacturer helping bridge the gap to IP, building a complete line of hybrid solutions, as well as an award-winning Universal Security Platform (USP) that configures and manages the network via network management software. The USP system is specifically designed for dedicated network users, in which one universal security platform provides access to video, audio, data, 1000M Ethernet, intercom and alarm.

“We integrate our technology with the existing infrastructure and equipment and it doesn’t matter if it’s from different manufacturers,” according to Dr. Jeffrey Liu, Ph.D. and president of Infinova. “Our hybrid solutions extend the use of existing equipment and protect the end user’s investment,” he said.

The USB is a blade server software solution which digitizes the analog signal so it becomes transparent to the end-user, said Mark Wilson, vice president of Marketing for Infinova. “The idea is to extend the life of the system, cameras and cabling and delay high costs of replacing cameras.”

Deployed to integrate hybrid into the network, the USP does not change the look or functionality for the operator. “There is no retraining of operators, which can be a significant part of an installation, and everything is managed through a GUI,” Wilson continued. “You don’t need to put encoders in front of the cameras.”

Wilson added that having a blade-type solution is something the IT department is familiar with and this helps security sell the solution. “Finally, it’s not what IT folks refer to as a forklift, dump-everything upgrade,” he said. “When the user wants to go all IP in the future, they can change out a card in the server and deploy IP cameras as they find necessary.”

Dr. Bob Banerjee, product manager, IP Video for Bosch Security Systems in Lancaster, Pa., has long advocated the hybrid approach. And he also believes in educating installers to look carefully at the installation and decide what will work best for the end-user. Banerjee believes in using DVRs with software that allows them to become hybrid units that can capture analog signals.
“I would recommend integrators become familiar with at least one hybrid recorder,” Banerjee commented. “Something like this allows you to reuse your existing cameras and add some IP cameras as well. A good hybrid recorder will allow you to mix and match cameras. These units have BNC connectors to connect the coaxial cabling.”

Banerjee said organizations such as ONVIF will also help the industry migrate to IP, especially as standards are created. “That’s where the beauty of organizations such as ONVIF comes in. As soon as a DVR is ONVIF compliant, any IP camera or encoder will work with it. Installers are waiting for the complexity of IP products to come down, so I don’t think the price is the problem. IP is complicated. It takes a step by step approach but hybrid solutions can work.”

Hybrid or bridge products are giving integrators the skills they need to progress to the next IT-centric level in security. By learning from the ground up how all these components work, how the digital signal and network operates and the end results, integrators will be better prepared to deploy these systems. In all, in the end the goal is to bring all systems and services together into the network-leveraged world.

As always, in everything you do, let the application or end-use be your guide. Take some time to check out all that manufacturers have to offer, because they have been hard at work creating hybrid solutions to make your video come alive on the network.

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