IP vs. Traditional CCTV: An Industry Roundtable (part 1)

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

Banerjee: Analog systems offer many benefits, including familiarity, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and proven longevity, and are most appropriate where video need only be viewed in a single location. In contrast, IP video offers flexibility on how, when and where video can be stored, viewed and manipulated. New construction offers the greatest advantages for using IP, where the IP video surveillance system becomes another set of devices using the new building’s network communications infrastructure. It’s estimated that 50 to 60 percent of costs can be saved by laying down network cables instead of thick bundles of coaxial cable, PTZ control wires, audio wires and power cables. Retrofitting to install an entire IP video system provides fewer advantages; it’s here that implementing a hybrid system provides the greatest benefit. However, choosing between analog and IP video is not a black-and-white choice — hybrid systems are extremely common. Finally, the industry’s comfort level with analog should not be overlooked. As a new technology requiring a higher level of technical skills, IP video requires qualified installers. The industry continues to struggle with finding enough trained technicians with this skill set.
Gorovici: In every respect, IP-based video surveillance is driving the future of physical security. The fact that the video is now in a digital format allows for more applications to use the same data. In addition to garden-variety security, we’ve seen surveillance video being used for operations improvement, marketing analysis, training development programs and employee performance reviews. In the past, IP-based video surveillance was more cost-effective for solutions that were on a larger scale. Today, that is no longer true. The cost of IP cameras and encoders is on par with analog cameras and the software and hardware combined are about the same as a DVR. Where IP Video Surveillance really shines over DVRs for budget issues is in the event of changes to the system or moving the systems. It is much easier and cheaper to move equipment and cameras because they are all connected to the network. There is no need to run new cabling.
Lavery: From an application standpoint, there are many advantages of an IP-based video surveillance system over an analog system. These include the use of a customized server software that allows the end-user to filter video for specific triggered events from all locations more efficiently, directly through a secure internet connection. Most analog systems can only be accessed at the actual DVR. As far as infrastructure goes, most businesses already have an IP infrastructure in place, so network cameras are a perfect fit. An analog system requires coaxial cabling and power runs that become very labor intensive.
Nilsson: In general, there are three main benefits of using IP Surveillance over analog video. The first is image quality (using progressive scan and megapixel sensors), next is scalability (it is simple to add one camera at a time, systems that scales from one to thousands of cameras, and ease of integration with other systems) and finally lower total cost of ownership (for systems beyond 32 cameras or when cabling already exists). These pros outnumber the cons. There is, however, still a tremendous amount of education needed to make end-users, consultants and systems integrators aware of all the benefits, and understand how quickly the technology is developing.
Surfaro: It’s useful to have a perspective for an end-user’s video system deployment focus without getting “caught up” in the analog vs. IP discussion. The most important consideration is to deliver the most effective video solution and recognize that it is a tool for the end-user’s safety, surveillance or security program. That said, both analog and IP Video Systems each offer strengths in individual projects and applications. Applications that require large numbers of users monitoring or reviewing video are best suited with IP Video. Deployments that require real-time surveillance with hardware-based control, such as casino surveillance and loss prevention, are still best served by analog video systems in many cases. New, large-scale project deployments are predominantly IP Video-based; however, an end-user can still enjoy the infrastructure savings of IP Video Systems through the use of CAT5e or CAT6A for analog video systems, with baluns and passive transceivers. Making poor choices in IP Video deployment can be more costly than their analog counterparts. Excessive IP Camera recording system license costs, if unaccounted for, can cost far more than the embedded recording system alternatives, for which there is only an upfront cost.
Forest: For applications, IP-based video surveillance offers two main advantages over analog systems: geographic reach and image quality. The ability to deliver surveillance footage anywhere on the IP network across wide geographic distances has been the primary driver of IP-based systems to date for applications in campus environments or for central monitoring of remote locations. The other major advantage of IP-based video surveillance is that the image quality can be substantially better because IP cameras can be multi-megapixel and are not restricted to analog NTSC or PAL standards.
Aronson: The principal advantages of IP cameras are flexibility and convenience. With IP technology, recording devices do not need to be directly connected to cameras. Cameras can be placed at any point within the facility that is connected to the network. Network Video Recorders (NVRs), virtual matrix software and viewers can be located where they can best be serviced and used, instead of at the end of a camera’s coax cable. Power over Ethernet (PoE) cameras have the additional advantage of needing only a single connection. Analog cameras retain the advantage of instantaneous control. Applications, such as casino surveillance, that cannot tolerate any delay in camera control or image display will continue to work best with analog cameras.
Havlin: Overall costs both in terms of infrastructure and the IP products themselves are typically more than those of analog systems. In addition, the level of technical expertise required by of the installer in order to implement IP video systems can also affect the overall budget. Recent studies have shown that the “break-even” point of implementing an IP system over an analog system is generally around 32 cameras when IP becomes a more cost effective option. From an application perspective, IP video is even more suited for systems larger than 40 or more cameras when customers can take full advantage of remote viewing, video management and operational capabilities.

2. What types of end-users should be considering an IP-based video system over an analog-based video system; and what types of end-users should stick with analog? Are there specific applications that would favor one technology over the other?

Nilsson: An end-user with a system of more than 32 cameras should absolutely consider IP-based video if they are interested in saving money. For smaller systems, if cost is the only factor of interest, analog still may make sense; however, if Cat5 or Cat 6 already exists in the buildings, then IP will again be the lower-costing solution. Most vertical markets are installing IP-based systems, with education, transportation, government and retail being on the forefront.
Aronson: Any organization that does not need or rely on split-second camera control should consider IP-based video, as an all-digital system provides the widest set of solution and support options. Along with customers requiring instant camera control, there is one other set of end-users that should consider analog systems: retail companies that need IP networks only for the office and checkout. These companies may need video distributed throughout the facility; however, the cost, effectiveness and security of using an analog system vs. expanding the data network should be evaluated.
Havlin: Education, retail, government, transportation are all clearly markets for IP video. The analog market is still very strong with small retail and other small-business applications.
Shabtai: End-users that should heavily consider IP include greenfields where infrastructure doesn’t exist; truly distributed sites (e.g. city centers); and organizations where video monitoring and alarm management in control rooms are their everyday practice (e.g. critical infrastructure).
Apple: Depending on the application, the technology to be used should reflect the specific requirements of the end-user. Selection should not be made based merely on perceived benefits of one over another. Many end-users have invested much into analog cameras and digital recording and control equipment. Steps should be taken to intelligently and efficiently support both analog camera technology and well as state-of-the-art IP camera technology. We promote modern UTP-based hybrid systems, cameras, UTP transmission systems, recorders, etc., which can exploit the advantages of both technologies to the benefit of the customer. In the end, it is always about specifics of the application and the related range of choices and budget. In our opinion, this is not really related to a specific end-user type.
Surfaro: Applications that could require many users to view single or multiple IP Video sources simultaneously, such as mass transit or transportation applications, are very well suited for IP Video. Those applications where network infrastructure has been successfully deployed and maintained are excellent choices for IP Video: Hospitals (strong internal network) and city-wide surveillance (long-range WiFi and new WiMAX deployment) are two examples. Analog technology is completely viable for specific applications like casinos; however, with the use of hybrid endpoint solutions, a migration path to an IP solution can be evolved.
Banerjee: Smaller, single location end-users, where a single DVR-based solution is adequate for their needs, can safely stay with analog for as long as that equipment continues to operate. End-users who require flexibility in their video needs should be considering and implementing IP. They include a multi-location company that wants to be able to centrally view and/or control camera functions or integrate video with other security or building automation systems. DVRs are also ideal for users who are limited in the use of their network to transmit video, for reasons such as limited WAN bandwidth. This scenario lends itself to recording on the edge, which is a more bandwidth-friendly option than installing a PC-based NVR at each location. That solution is expensive and, more importantly, can become a maintenance nightmare. IP cameras recording direct to iSCSI disk arrays is one way to eliminate this problem without resorting to DVRs.