Hardly a month goes by without being able to read about all of the latest installations of network camera technology. The transportation, government and educational markets have seen some high-profile deployments that can be both flexible and economical.
What are some of the new technologies and opportunities that network-based CCTV presents?
NVR. Those three letters nearly always accompany any serious discussion about IP camera technology. NVR stands for Network Video Recorder, and this is usually the back-end of the system that sits behind the cameras deployed in the field. The NVR — whether an appliance or a piece of software on a standard server — is responsible for all video management within the system. Typically, there is a way to access the NVR from various locations, whether local or distant, and the NVR is responsible for processing all requests for video. But how can we leverage the NVR platform to attempt to provide a more practical system?
Many NVRs are compatible with hardware from multiple vendors. This is an important part of any network-based system. It is this compatibility that enables end-users to customize their own systems and select the cameras that fit the application best.
The more vendors an NVR manufacturer is willing to work with, the more effective your video system can be. End-users often forget that they can mix and match cameras from various manufacturers, and instead opt to purchase their cameras from a single manufacturer. However, consider an application where several camera types are needed. If you needed wide dynamic mini-domes, day/night box cameras with vari-focal lenses, a 35x zoom day/night PTZ camera and a megapixel camera, you could probably get all of them from one manufacturer.
Instead of purchasing all the cameras from the same manufacturer, what if you consider a cross-manufacturer approach? You could end up with the wide dynamic mini-dome with the best dynamic range available, the box camera with the best day/night specs, the highest quality optics, as well as a PTZ with the best low-light sensitivity and a megapixel camera that offers the resolution you need. This is only an option if the NVR platform that is selected offers support for cameras from various manufacturers.
Some people will say that going with different manufacturers makes for a support nightmare, but this is where a qualified integrator has a chance to shine. When going with a network-based system, it becomes important to select an integrator that has real-world experience with networks and the pitfalls that can be common in a network environment. This is not the time to look for the integrator who gives you the lowest price. While price should always be a consideration, every factor surrounding the integrator should be considered. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. When looking at previous jobs an integrator has done, be sure to ask about their ongoing support. It is this support that you would need when going with a multi-manufacturer camera deployment.
A qualified integrator should be able to handle a multi-manufacturer camera system, and they should be able to provide any necessary support in a situation like this. In a network deployment, an ongoing support agreement should definitely be considered. While any deployment should come with at least one year of warranty coverage for parts and labor, when the warranty is over what happens? You will want an integrator who will be around for the long haul.
In recent years, the camera market has been literally flooded with offerings. In the past, you may have had only four or five options for a particular camera style, you may now be presented with 10 to 15 cameras — all of which might meet your needs. Don’t be afraid to look around and perform your due diligence.