Network vs. analog video: A roundtable

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

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 DVRs to standard business class servers or PCs.

Provinsal: Yes. These technologies provide capabilities that cannot 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. Megapixel 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.

QUESTION: Does a lack of operating standards impact the effectiveness of IP-based video?

Lavery: A lack of operating standards does impact the effectiveness of IP-based video, and this is why it’s important to find the right software vendor and camera manufacturer. Recently, Axis Communications, Bosch Security Systems and Sony Corporation announced that they will be working together to create an open forum to develop a standard for the interface of network video products. The goal of this new standard is to allow the integration of various brands of network video equipment. This will also help manufacturers and software developers ensure product interoperability.

Apple: IP cameras from different manufactures are often not compatible with one another, and IP video management software applications from different manufactures are often not compatible with one another. It is a choice, cost and flexibility issue.

Forest: Unfortunately, many early IP-based video solutions have suffered from poor image quality because of a lack of operating standards which directly impacted their effectiveness and tarnished the reputation of IP-video. The newest IP-based solutions, however, have addressed these issues with operating standards such as High Definition Stream Management (HDSM) and are able to deliver the high image quality and availability that end-users now expect from a surveillance system.