IP Video vs. Traditional CCTV Roundtable: Part 2

Integrators and manufacturers weigh in on the pros and cons of deploying the different video surveillance systems

1. What’s the best or most efficient way for end-users to migrate from analog to an IP-based video surveillance solution?
Banerjee: A hybrid system is an excellent way to meet the needs of customers looking to leverage existing analog camera investments when upgrading or expanding video surveillance systems. Using IP encoders as the bridge between analog cameras and the network, video can be viewed using video management software or a Web browser, recorded to NVRs or centralized storage area networks that offer high-density fault-tolerant storage devices instead of a single hard drive.Recording at the edge, or storing video at the edge of the network instead of transporting it to a centralized NVR, is a bandwidth friendly option in today’s IP video systems. This decentralized approach only uses the network to replay video at a workstation. This renders recording independent of other network conditions, such as congestion and downtime. Many users also have analog switches with attached tapes or DVRs for recording. Or, recording can also be achieved with multi-channel encoders with Direct-attached iSCSI RAIDs, as a direct and more flexible direct substitute.
Havlin: Use either a Samsung DVR to connect their existing analog cameras to the network or an encoder. Install video management software like Samsung Net-I that talks to their DVR and IP cameras. In addition, adding “IP-Ready” products like our new Video Plus UTP power hub that enables analog coaxial video signals and power to be sent over Cat-5 cable is ideal for new projects that have pre-wired Cat-5 cabling but that are not yet ready to install an IP-based system.
APPLE: Stop installing coax! UTP based Hybrid Analog, without a doubt, is the best way for end-users to set themselves up for possible future migration. The future is clearly a mix of analog and digital video. One of the most popular and fastest growing architectures is that of a Hybrid System. A DVR-based system is the simplest example, where video is digitized within the DVR and made available for viewing locally or over the Ethernet network or via the internet. Analog cameras, UTP transmission, and IP digitizers with Hybrid Network Video Recorders at the control room provide the next step in the evolution, where the IP backbone is comfortably confined (high bandwidth) within the control room. The key is the deployment of a UTP based structured cabling transmission system. It allows the use of cost-effective analog cameras, and eliminates the need for a full IP-based distribution system. It also provides for migration to a full IP architecture down the road.
Gorovici: Through integration, analog-based systems can make their way to IP-based video surveillance solutions and then as cameras are brought on-line, you just add them directly into the system. As channels fail, just bypass the integration and go directly into the new system. As a manufacturer, we see equal number of installations between retrofits and greenfield. When migrating from analog, it is not necessary to throw away or discontinue using perfectly good equipment—another tremendous benefit of IP-based video surveillance.
ARONSON: Follow the money. Digital recoding has a clear cost advantage over VCR when total costs are evaluated. Use the end-of-life of a system’s infrastructure to phase in digital replacements, consolidating equipment as facilitated by the IP infrastructure. Once the core of a system is IP-based, all new cameras and system extensions should also be IP. Finally, coordinate with other facility updates to extend the IP network to camera locations so that cameras can be upgraded to IP according to their lifecycle.
Forest: The most efficient way to migrate from analog to IP based solutions is to replace the existing recording infrastructure with a solution that supports both analog cameras and HD IP cameras. This allows an end-user to continue to use the existing analog cameras that are still useful, and HD IP cameras can be used everywhere new cameras are going to be deployed.
Nilsson: That depends on what the existing system looks like, but there are many technologies for bridging an analog system into network video. Video encoders with built in intelligence, PoE and multi stream capabilities are widely available, either as stand alone devices to be installed close to the camera or a video encoder rack with blades, providing very high density for replacement of DVRs. Additionally there are technologies for using existing coax cables for IP transmission, a benefit when an analog camera is being replaced with a network camera.
Lavery: The easiest way to migrate analog investments to IP technology is the use of video encoders to convert the analog video stream to a digital stream. This can be done at the head end by plugging the coaxial cabling directly into an encoder. The encoder is the connected by a network cable to a server or PC. Many companies make the transition to IP as their current DVR systems get older or need replaced.
Shabtai: The best way is to adopt the evolutional approach and chose platform that will support a migration path by supporting on the same unified front-end both analog and IP solutions, eliminating the need for fork lifting the analog platform.
Rakow: One scenario: deploy signal converters to existing analogs when it is time to replace the DVR with an NVR and then add IP cameras as needed.
Surfaro: The use of low-latency control platforms, dedicated, embedded Network Disk Recorders, High Definition Hardware Decoders and Video Encoders supporting over-the-coax control all together form the “best practice” in analog-to-IP Video migration and deployment.

2. Are megapixel and HD technology driving increased migration to IP-based video?
Surfaro: Yes, these identification rich technologies are a key driver for IP Video in certain applications. As with any IP Video deployment, careful consideration to accommodate storage, maintain system cost and display High Definition imaging sources is of great importance. Panasonic is taking advantage of its WJ-ND400 NVR’s massive storage capability with the introduction of two new megapixel cameras that will have not only the industry’s most aggressive price point for their resolution/image quality, but new, key image processing technologies to assure clear images, even in difficult lighting conditions. Finally, to display the images from these new megapixel cameras, as well as other network cameras and encoders, Panasonic is pleased to offer the first High Definition hardware-based decoder for the Security Industry. This decoder will simultaneously decode six video streams and then display them on High Definition Displays through an industry standard HDMI interface. You will get the video that you need, displayed in real-time, and not be dependant on a recording server’s performance to decode them.
Nilsson: Any technology that improves image quality will drive the technology shift. Megapixel is doing it in the same way as progressive scan is. Megapixel has many advantages, with higher resolution as the obvious one, but also drawbacks such a lower light sensitivity and higher storage needs. The sensors and light sensitivity are improving and with H.264 compression the storage concerns are being addressed.
Gorovici: Yes. Think about it: even your TVs will be forced to be HD-ready by February 2009 and just about everyone has network access in their homes. These two developments combined show the power of technology and how it effects our everyday life. With TV programs like CSI and Vegas showing enhanced video as commonplace, end users and integrators alike are eager to deploy technology that can make there system more efficient. Megapixel cameras are becoming a more mature product and are at costs competitive with higher level IP and analog cameras. Through improved engineering, some models require only a portion of the bandwidth and storage compared with when they were first introduced. Like Networked-based video surveillance, edge devices are also maturing and becoming more commonplace, effective solutions.
Forest: Absolutely, end users are rapidly adopting the newest generation of HD surveillance solutions because they make it possible to offer better protection with fewer cameras and at a lower total cost. Unlike a couple of years ago when HD solutions only made sense in critical infrastructure applications, we are now seeing HD surveillance solutions being implemented in applications across the board including retail, commercial, transportation as well as school campuses.
ARONSON: Megapixel and HD are examples of camera features that are natural extensions of the IP infrastructure. Technology innovators can quickly deliver these features within IP networks relative to adapting them to an analog infrastructure that was not designed to support these capabilities.
Havlin: Megapixel cameras are just beginning to make progress in the security and surveillance markets. HD is still in the future. The driver for increases in the IP video is due to the ability to better manage storage, forwarding of video events to others and central command and control of operations in major corporate and government users
Banerjee: Megapixel technology delivers superior picture quality and is especially attractive in LAN environments where the appropriate amount of bandwidth exists. It’s important to note that megapixel and HD technology are not the only answers when a user seeks increased picture quality; the majority of the mass market does not even use NTSC IP cameras to their full capability (30 FPS at 4CIF). This should be a warning sign as to the levels of expectation of the market and the user’s readiness to jump to a 40 Mbps stream per camera, which will increase storage needs by 20 to 40 times the current capacity.
Lavery: I believe that many Security Directors and IT Departments know that these technologies will eventually be the standard, so they are making the switch to IP now. As prices for storage go down, sales of megapixel cameras will go up. In my opinion, the main reason we are seeing increased migration to IP systems is the use of standard PC based servers for recordings instead of the DVR. As IT Departments converge with Security Departments, we will continue to see the switch from DVR’s to standard Business Class Servers or PC’s.
Provinsal: Yes. These technologies provide capabilities that can not be achieved using traditional analog cameras. Unfortunately, the cost of bandwidth and storage limit the adoption rate.
Rakow: No…there are not enough systems that allow recording of megapixel images.
Shabtai: Potentially yes and we are starting to see the signs. MP cameras not only offer a change in the video format from analog to digital, but also a much better video quality (actually for the first time better than pure analog), and better foot coverage of an area with less cameras.