Ask the Experts: IP-Addressable Video Technology

A roundtable discussion featuring CCTV, IP and security experts

Telders: I would venture my opinion that the conversion is inevitable. Many of the installations that are not using (IP cameras) today are doing so simply because they have a pre-existing hard-wired installation. The other limiting factor is lack of familiarity with IP-enabled equipment. Many potential users of this technology may have difficulty determining how to work effectively with the IT infrastructure to establish a new installation of this kind.

Fredrik Nilsson, general manager for Axis Communications: Today, we estimate that less than five percent of the cameras sold for security and surveillance applications are IP-addressable. This number is quickly growing, and analysts estimate that by the year 2008 more IP-addressable cameras will be sold than traditional analog. I think this is a correct estimate.

Friborg: The biggest obstacle for growth is the lack of IT and networking knowledge among the CCTV resellers and installers. Larger system integrators are now in the process of gaining the required in-house IT skills, but many of the smaller installers will not be able to do this, so they will be left behind over the next five to 10 years.

Lockhart: The hybrid solution of installing high-quality analog cameras connected to IP encoders must be figured into this equation. If both of these solutions are called "converting to IP camera technology," then three to five years is probably that crossover point. The biggest single obstacle to IP camera adoption is the VMS software required to turn large quantities of cameras into a seamless and workable network and how it will integrate into existing subsystems.

Brahms: I expect that for IP video cameras to reach 50 percent or better will require further product and infrastructure improvements. If security product manufacturers would meet and establish industry-wide standards for video compression and cross-vendor system compatibility, they could help facilitate the growth to 50 percent of sales. This would simplify integration of IP video equipment and applications from various manufacturers and assure end users of the future viability of IP video equipment purchases.

ST&D: Does IP-addressable CCTV offer clear-cut customer benefits? What are they?

Telders: Cost savings. The cost of establishing a new hard-wired solution is high due to skilled labor costs and maintenance of a new set of wires. Using existing network connectivity as an alternative can simply be more cost effective. I also see this trending toward a commoditized market, and as a result there will be price competition for market share and units will become less expensive over time. Network maintenance and monitoring (from an infrastructure perspective) can simply be provided to security as a customer of the corporate network, allowing the security director to focus on the business uses for the CCTV system and not the technical maintenance of the system.

Nilsson: There are several benefits that network cameras and IP surveillance solutions offer customers. First and foremost, there is the benefit of lower cost. If it is a new system where a camera has not been previously installed, or a larger existing analog camera system with more than 50 cameras, the system cost is many times lower. An IP surveillance system usually comes out costing even less when you factor in total cost of ownership. Network cameras have additional benefits such as megapixel resolution, the ability to power the cameras over the ethernet, integrate PTZ control, audio, alarm contacts, and more.

Taylor: IP-addressable CCTV offers an inexpensive and convenient method for remote access of the CCTV video. Most IP-addressable systems allow multiple end users to access the same video simultaneously. IP-addressable CCTV also offers methods to allow for flexible permission schemes, so that "power users" can easily be given more rights than standard operators for viewing certain cameras or types of video. A DVMR or IP camera that supports TCP/IP video transmission will likely also provide additional TCP/IP services, such as FTP archiving, e-mail notification on alarm, remote status monitoring and remote control of relays.

Gorovici: A network video recorder (NVR)?not a DVR, which is instead a digital VCR that resides on the network?provides a wide array of bandwidth management and network management tools. It provides multiple solutions in one system?multiplexer, matrix switch, and DVR. It runs on off-the shelf equipment, and it incorporates storage from any of the storage manufacturers. It's also scalable, flexible and upgradeable.