Until the recent advent of IP video encoders that allow data to go across a network, data transport for analog cameras has been either via coaxial cable (sometimes requiring video amplifiers or line boosters along the way) or fiber optic cable (using proprietary encoders and decoders) from cameras back to the central monitoring point. Both coax and fiber transport result in an analog signal at the end of the line. Coax line boosters and fiber optic encoders and decoders have their own lifecycles and are candidates for replacement at some point. Coax cable can’t be reused for Ethernet networking, but fiber optic cable can.
IT departments are already familiar with using fiber for networks. When considering converting fiber used for analog communications to network use, it is important to check with the IT department. Such conversions should be handled in a way that is consistent with IT network design standards and practice. Additionally, the upgrade may be able to be incorporated into a planned IT project. If the security department has spare fiber optic cable, and IT could make good use of some of it, it may be prudent to discuss a resource swap that benefits both departments.
The timing for replacing analog cameras with network cameras should be based not just on the life of the cameras, but also on factors relating to converting the analog communications infrastructure to Ethernet network. That includes Power over Ethernet (PoE) capability for new network cameras. With many companies currently deploying VOIP solutions — which use PoE — it is important to get the network camera power requirements into the hands of IT, and to schedule deployment of the new cameras for after the VOIP network support is in place.
Network video systems and high-capacity corporate network backbones can provide an affordable means to bring remote site video back to a central monitoring point. If this hasn’t been done before, consider whether it would provide security or efficiency improvements.
In addition to the cost savings over a rip-and-replace approach, implementing a hybrid system can be done with a plan that optimizes the way that security improvements are rolled out.
Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. Mr. Bernard has also provided pivotal strategic and technical advice in the security and building automation industries for more than 18 years. He is founder and publisher of The Security Minute 60-second newsletter (www.TheSecurityMinute.com). For more information about Ray Bernard and RBCS go to www.go-rbcs.com or call 949-831-6788.