Network vs. analog video: A roundtable

Integrators and manufacturers debate the forces at work in this technology transition

Eli Gorovici/DVTel: 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.

Phil Aronson/ASG: Follow the money. Digital recording has a clear cost advantage over the 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.

Jean-Pierre Forest/Avigilon: 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 (high definition) 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.

Fredrik Nilsson/Axis Communications: 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 standalone 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.

Mickey Lavery/I2C: 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.

Moti Shabtai/NICE Systems: The best way is to adopt the evolutional approach and choose a 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.

Joel Rakow/Ollivier Corporation: One scenario is to deploy signal converters to existing analogs when it is time to replace the DVR with an NVR and then add IP cameras as needed.

Steve Surfaro/Panasonic: 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.

QUESTION: 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.

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 affects 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 their 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.